Is There a Difference Between a Curriculum Vitae (CV) and a Resume?

Diane Goettel
Diane Goettel

Although they are similar documents and the terms are sometimes used interchangeably, there is a difference between a curriculum vitae (CV) and a resume. A curriculum vitae typically is a complete listing of a person's relevant history, such as his or her professional history for a job-related CV. A resume generally is a short summary of a person's education, experience, skills and related information. The difference between a curriculum vitae and a resume also can vary by location, because the terms can be used differently in some countries than in others.

In academia and research positions, prime considerations are given to not only where one studied but also what one studied.
In academia and research positions, prime considerations are given to not only where one studied but also what one studied.

Uses for These Documents

When someone applies for a job, internship, fellowship or academic program, he or she will often be asked to submit a resume or curriculum vitae. These documents chronicle the person's work history, highlight his or her awards and academic achievements and otherwise assert his or her qualifications. A resume or CV is often the first thing that a prospective employer looks at when considering a candidate. Therefore, both a resume and a CV include the most impressive and pertinent information.


A resume usually is one page or not much longer than one page. Some experts recommend avoiding resumes that are more than one or two pages. Each time a person applies for a job, his or her resume should be tailored to reflect skills, experience and other credentials that will be of particular use in that position. For example, if a person were to simultaneously apply for a jobs as a biology teacher and a biking tour guide, he or she likely would highlight different qualifications in each resume.

Curricula Vitae

A CV typically is longer than a resume and includes a complete listing of a person's relevant history. For example, this document might include every position that a person has held, a comprehensive list of his or her academic credentials as well as information on his or her published works and other significant achievements. In some cases, CVs are many pages long.

Differences Between Fields

Another difference between a curriculum vitae and a resume is that certain fields tend to use one or the other. In general, CVs are required when people apply for positions in the medical and academic fields. Resumes usually are preferred when people apply for business positions.

Differences By Location

The terms "curriculum vitae" and "resume" also are used in different ways around the world. In the United States and in the English-speaking regions of Canada, for example, the word "resume" is used predominantly. Even longer documents that more closely resemble CVs are often referred to as resumes in these parts of the world. The term "curriculum vitae" is used more often in Ireland, England, Scotland, New Zealand and French-speaking regions of Canada. In India and Australia, the terms are generally interchangeable.

Tips for Job Applicants

When a person is applying for a job and a prospective employer asks for a resume or a CV, it is important for the applicant to know how the term is being used. It can be helpful for him or her to contact the prospective employer to ask about the types of information that should be included. There are many books and websites that offer tips to help job applicants write resumes and CVs.

Diane Goettel
Diane Goettel

In addition to her work as a freelance writer for wiseGEEK, Diane is the executive editor of Black Lawrence Press, an independent publishing company based in upstate New York. She has also edited several anthologies, the e-newsletter Sapling, and The Adirondack Review. Diane has a B.A. from Sarah Lawrence College and an M.A. from Brooklyn College.

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Discussion Comments


@ Aplenty- Your local library is also a great place to go for resume and CV writing resources. The library has many books that can teach you how to write a good resume. You can also find other books that give professional resume samples from many different industries and backgrounds.


@ Alchemy- you make a good point about including a resume cover letter. It may not be necessary for all positions, but when applying for a professional position it should be included.

There are many different online resources for those who need help with resume cover letter writing. They give you tips on how to organize your letter, what to include, and how to get the reader’s attention.

You can also usually find courses on resume and cover letter writing at your local employment center. If you are a student, your campus may also offer free courses.


For those who have returned to school or changed professions a curriculum vitae may be a better alternative to a resume. It is a little more comprehensive, and allows you to highlight recent educational accomplishments. It may be a good idea to create both types of documents and keep them in your files, as there may be situations where one is more necessary.

One tip I would like to recommend is to leave an objective out of your resume and curriculum vitae. The interviewer or hiring manager may see that as a limitation. Besides, you may want to use your resume or curriculum vitae for more than one company. A customized curriculum vitae or resume cover letter is the best place to put your objective statement.

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