CV vs. Resume - What are the Differences & Definitions [+ Examples]

September 4
6 min read

You’ve probably heard of the Curriculum Vitae (CV) more than once. In some cases, it’s used as a synonym for the resume. In others, it seems like it’s something completely different.

So, which is it? What’s a CV, anyway? Is it any different than a resume? If so, how?

In this article, we’re going to answer all those questions and more:

  1. What is a Curriculum Vitae (CV)? [+ real-life example]
  2. What is a resume? [+ real-life example]
  3. What are the differences between a CV and a resume?
  4. How’s a CV different in the US and the EU?

What is a CV? [+ Real-Life Example]

The term CV is an abbreviation of the Latin word Curriculum Vitae, which is literally translated to “the course of your life”. 

A CV is a very in-depth document that describes your career journey step-by-step, including all sorts of personal information. You can look at it as a comprehensive description of everything you have ever done, all the achievements you are proud of, and all the publications that bear your name.

You need to update your CV every time you accomplish something new academically or professionally. Meaning, whenever you get a new job, publish something new, obtain a new certificate, and so on.

There is no rule of thumb on how long a CV should be - depending on the amount of experience, it can range from 2 to 8 pages.

What to Include on a CV

  1. Full name
  2. Contact information
  3. Professional title, resume summary, or resume objective
  4. Research interests
  5. Education
  6. Publications (both academic papers and books)
  7. Teaching or lecturing experience
  8. Work experience
  9. Conferences and courses
  10. Skills
  11. Certificates
  12. Languages
  13. Grants of fellowships
  14. References

Real-Life CV Example

Want to see how a CV looks like in practice? Check out a real-life sample below.

Elizabeth Smith is a marketing professional with a specialization in online marketing. She’s applying to become a professor at a university.

curriculum vitae cv sample

In Elizabeth’s CV, you can see a summarized snapshot of her life: everything she has studied, all the conferences she has been to, the skills she obtained, and a list of her publications.

Since she’s applying for a job in a university, Elizabeth mentions her academic achievements and interests first, and professional experiences later.

Want to create an awesome CV, but don’t want to spend hours playing around with the formatting & layout? We’ve got you covered! Use one of the 8 Novorésumé CV templates.

What is a Resume? [+ Real-Life Example]

A resume is a short, straight-to-the-point, document created for the purpose of applying to a specific job. 

Unlike the CV, you should try to keep a resume as short as possible. In 99% of the cases, you’d want to keep your resume to 1-page max. If you have 15+ years of experience, or really believe that the extra information you can mention can add value to your application, you can make it 2 pages tops.

In a resume, you only mention the aspects of your work experience and skills that are relevant to the job you’re applying for. A good resume highlights specific contributions you have made in your previous work and showcases how your different skills can be useful for the position you are applying to. 

The resume is usually accompanied by the submission of a cover letter which states your intent for applying to the job. The cover letter builds upon the skills and experience you have touched upon in your resume, explaining how they’re going to help you excel at the job you’re applying for. 

Making a resume and continuously updating it can be a hassle. Want a modern-looking resume done in less than 5 minutes? Try our online resume builder. It’s free, and you can select amongst 8+ templates. 

What to Include on a Resume

  1. Full name
  2. Your job title, or the name of the position you’re applying for
  3. Contact information
  4. Resume summary or objective
  5. Work experience
  6. Education
  7. Relevant skills
  8. Languages and proficiency
  9. Relevant certifications and interests (if any)

Want to learn more about what you can mention in each of these sections? Check out our guide on what to put on a resume.

Real-Life Resume Example

To get a better idea of what a resume looks like, check out the example below. 

In this case, Elizabeth Smith is applying for a job as a marketing specialist, not a professor.

professional resume sample

Unlike Elizabeth’s CV, her resume is significantly shorter and more to-the-point. She only mentions relevant work experiences, skills, certifications, and education. After all, the hiring manager cares about her skills as a marketer, not her academic achievements.

The ordering of information is also a bit different. In Jane’s CV, she mentions her academic experiences first and then moves on to work. Here, it’s the other way around, with minimal emphasis on Jane’s academic successes.

Want to get started with your resume, but don’t know how? Check out the Novorésumé guide on How to Make a Resume. We’ll walk you through everything you need to know about making a resume, one step at a time.

CV vs. Resume - What’s the Difference

Now that you have a clear idea about what’s a CV and what’s a resume, here’s a complete list of the differences between the curriculum vitae (CV) and resume:

  • Length - The first and most notable difference between a CV and a Resume is how long each one of them is. A resume is kept short and brief (usually 1 page), whereas the CV is more comprehensive (it can go up to 2-3 pages depending on your experience).
  • Function - The CV is mainly used for academical purposes, such as applying for a research program, a Ph.D., or joining the staff of a university. The resume, on the other hand, is written for a regular job in a company.
  • Type of information you include - The CV is an academic diary where you include all your academic qualifications, achievements, and certifications. It is universal in nature as it can be updated as you go. Whereas, a resume has to be created (or at least customized) for each job you’re applying for, and has a bigger focus on your professional achievements, rather than academic.

To give you a better idea of how a CV and a resume differ, here are the two other examples side-by-side:

cv vs resume

CV vs. Resume - The Difference Between U.S. & EU

By now you should have a clear idea about the differences between the CV and the Resume. Here’s where it gets a tiny bit trickier: these differences generally only apply in the United States

In all of Europe, the word CV is essentially just a synonym for the resume. So, if you’re applying for a position in the EU, and the job asks for a CV, you should know that it actually means a resume.

Conclusion

Now, let’s sum up everything we learned in this post:

  • A resume is a one page summary of your work experience and background relevant to the job you are applying to.
  • A CV is a longer academic diary that includes all your experience, certificates, and publications.
  • The differences are: (1) A resume is one page (max. two) whereas the CV can be longer, (2) A resume is used for job hunting in all industries, the CV is used for jobs and admissions in Academia, (3) The resume is tailored to the specific job you are applying to, whereas the CV is a comprehensive overview.
  • In the EU, both terms mean the same thing.

Now that you know the difference between a CV and a resume, it’s up to you to decide which one fits your purposes and job hunting process best.

It’s tough out there as it is! Here at Novorésumé, we are committed to making that process simple and fun for you. 

In less than 5 minutes, you can create a professional, modern-looking CV or Resume. All you need to do is go through our slick template gallery and choose the format that suits you best.

Choose among 16+ templates for building a resume or a CV for any industry or job position. You can even select a template for the cover letter that goes with your CV or resume.

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