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CV or Resume: What Are the Differences?

Content cv or resume what are the differences

Getting your foot in the door at a job is challenge enough. You must climb a mountain of paperwork that many times include documents that you must scurry to get prepared.

What if a prospective employer sends out a notice that they want a CV, and they are adamant that a resume won’t do.

This is where many job hunters get confused. They see the request for a CV and think, “is that short for cover letter?” Well, let us clarify a few things about CV’s and resumes to get you on the right track to getting that coveted job.


On this side of the mountain you must climb, there are the CV’s, which stands for curriculum vitae, which in Latin means, course of life. It is exactly that. It is a detailed document of all that you have achieved throughout your academic life.

Unlike a resume which is shorter in content, a CV wants the meaty parts of your life. Your achievements such as awards, associations, clubs, publications, honors and more. It is much more than a career listing.

Sitting down to write out your CV will take much longer and should cover 3-4 pages of documentation, this depending on how much you have accomplished. It must be organized in chronological order, and the layout is much more static than a resume.

You will be asked for a CV in many cases where your level of academic achievement depends on getting the job applied for, such as teaching in colleges, moving out of the country to a job overseas. You will hear the need for a CV in graduate school conversations more so than undergraduate programs.

Those developing their dissertations for their Ph. D. are more apt to have a CV than a resume. It is a more comprehensive document, and if necessary get someone professional to help put it in order There are curriculum vitae writing services available to do them for you or do the editing of one you have already prepared.

CV Preferred Abroad?

Not necessarily in all countries abroad is a CV necessary, but U.S. citizens do well to have one prepared if they are applying for work overseas. We suggest to have one on hand for whatever job you apply for. Then before you submit an application, ask them directly what it is that their company prefers, the CV or the resume.

Specific countries that require a CV as opposed to a resume are, U.K., New Zealand, and Ireland. These countries do not use resumes at all. Professional CV writing services will be able to pinpoint when you need this type of document for your specific needs. They will have the formats for overseas CV documents you will need.


A resume is the simpler of the two documents. It is normally tailored to a specific job. It is usually no longer than 1 page, concise and to the point. Do this test. Hold your resume in your hand, see where your thumb landed? That is where most resume readers are going to stop reading your resume.

It is developed to be the type of document that is not looked at very long before the employer decides on whether to give you an interview. The goal of the resume is to make you look better than anyone else that lands on the HR desk.

Unlike the CV which is static and doesn’t change, the resume can have info placed in any corresponding sections throughout the document to give information pertaining to the specific job.  So, the differences to look for in a CV or resume are:

  • The length

  • The purpose

  • The structure/layout

Remember when writing your resume to:

  • Voice loudly how you can help the company you are applying for

  • Make your first sentence show what you can bring to the company, instead of your own objective

  • Include what results you achieved for your previous employers

  • Be specific in your descriptions of what you did for other companies with wording like, developed, conducted, administered, received awards for, etc.

  • Be brief, it is a resume not a catalog. Keep your entire story for developing your CV instead.

Getting It Seen

One thing to consider when writing your CV is that, no matter how well written it is, if it does not get into the hands of HR for further vetting, you have wasted your time. More and more job applicants are learning that using help of professional resume writers can increase the odds that the keywords needed to get your CV, or resume, into the hands of a job recruiter are utilized fluently throughout your document.

Professionals are trained to get your resume or CV past the ATS (application tracking software) that is used throughout major companies to find good candidates.

Some Additional Job Search Tips

If after reading this article you still find that the difference between a CV and resume are confusing, here is a little table that you can keep for future reference:

CV (Curriculum Vitae)


Static Document/Chronological

Tailored from job to job

Life Achievements/accomplishments

Employment History/limited

Long/ 3-5 pages’ okay

Short 1-2 pages

Used abroad/Europe, Ireland, New Zeal.

U.S./Canadian standard

Academic centered

Employment centered

Remember, whether you need a resumed, CV, or a cover letter, resume writing services are available to help you climb this mountain. It is one of the documents that you want to invest in for your future.



About the author:

Silvia Giltner is a former HR manager and professional writer who delivers resume and coaching services at Resumes Centre. Her passion is to help people make a career change and get jobs they truly love by showing them how to take a full control over their careers. Check her expertise on our blog!