CV vs Resume - What is the Difference? [+Examples]

March 5
3 min read

The Differences Between a CV or Resume - When to Use Which

Potatoes potatos. There has been lots of debate which of these is the correct version, and on the same analogy, many people are wondering what term should be used in their job application: CV or Resume? 

cv vs resume

Firstly, let’s start with the definitions: 

What is a Curriculum Vitae (CV)?

  • A Curriculum Vitae (CV) is an outline of a person's educational and professional history, usually prepared for job applications.

What is a Resume?

  • A resume is a brief written account of personal, educational, and professional qualifications and experience, as that prepared by an applicant for a job.

The main difference that can be already seen here from the CV and Resume definitions is the word “brief,” meaning that your resume sample needs to be short and concise, using fewer words than the CV, which needs to “outline” your entire educational and professional history. 

“Resume” as a term is mostly used when applying for a job in the private sector, while you will use “CV” term when applying for positions in the public service. 

When to use a CV?

  • A CV should mainly be used when you are trying to change your career and are applying in a different field/industry where you do not have previous work experience. 

A CV usually has two or more pages, and it should include in-depth information about your previous achievements, education, professional work experience, personal projects, skills, extracurricular experience, awards, publications, extra courses, volunteer experience, etc. 

Most of the time a CV is static and includes all your professional experience in chronological order, even if you have experience in different fields. However, make sure when writing the Cover Letter to personalize it to that specific job application and explain how your life-long expertise can add value and benefit the company. 

However, make sure to explain how the skills and achievements in your different positions are relevant to the new industry/job you are applying for. 

Bellow, you can see a CV example vs. a Resume example, where the main difference (length) can be easily observed:

When to use a Resume?

  • A resume is the main job application document in the USA and Canada, and most of the recruiters agree that the ideal length is one-page only, summarizing and presenting only the relevant information for one position at a time. 

Writing a concise one-page resume will prove that you can prioritize and communicate relevant information in an easy way.  

How to Write a One-page Resume

  • Shorten the number of bullet points in the work experience. Focus firstly on the achievements that start with an action verb and include numbers or percentages. 
  • Remove experience that is older than 10 years if you have more recent work experience. 
  • Remove also the experience that is not related to the job you are applying for at the moment. 
  • Include only your latest and highest level of education. For example, if you have a Master's degree, there is no point to mention the Bachelor degree as well. 
  • Remove the articles: the, a and an and the unnecessary words. 

The resume layout should be used when applying for jobs where you have relevant working experience, and there are lots of applicants because the recruiters have a short attention span and will spend on average 7 seconds per resume. 

If you would like to find more information about the writing of a job application, check out how to write a resume and how to write a Cover Letter

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