Resumes vs CVs: What's The Difference?

Have you ever read a job advertisement that asked for a CV and wondered just what a CV entails? Do you know the difference between a resume and a CV and which document is appropriate to send to an employer? Read on for an explanation of both documents as well as tips for choosing the one that’s right for you.


A resume is a brief overview of the last 10 to 15 years of your professional experience, spanning one or two pages. While resumes can take on different formats—chronological, infographic, and functional are just a few types—the goal of the resume is to present the candidate’s expertise and job history in a concise, easy-to-read format. Resumes can (and should) be tailored to each position for which you are applying, using key words from the job announcement and highlighting specific skills you have that make you the best choice for job. They should also begin with a professional profile that succinctly introduces you and your unique experience to potential employers.


A curriculum vitae (CV), on the other hand, covers the entirety of your work experience. Commonly used by professionals such as professors, physicians, and attorneys, the CV goes into great detail, focusing on both work and academic history as well as publications, presentations, awards, research interests, and professional memberships. CVs are often lengthy documents that remain static, meaning they do not change with each job application. Unlike resumes, CVs always utilize a chronological format, as the focus is on the totality of your career and not specific jobs or skills. Job applicants using a CV can set themselves apart in a cover letter tailored to their desired position.


Descriptions for international positions often request that candidates submit CVs. For many international employers, a resume will suffice, as “resume” and “CV” are considered synonymous and used interchangeably. Before applying for an international position, however, fully research the company as well as its location. In some countries, CVs are customary and often include a wealth of very personal information, including your photograph, current age or full date of birth, gender, and nationality. This may seem unusual, but several countries lack the Equal Opportunity Employment (EOE) laws protecting American workers.


Unless you are applying for an academic position or an international position in a country that you know requires a considerably detailed account of your professional life, send a resume and a cover letter to prospective employers. If you are unsure which document an organization would prefer, reach out to the hiring manager for clarification. Regardless of which document or format you need, The Writque can create polished, professional documents for you or review and refresh your existing materials. For more information on our services, visit us here.