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What is a CV?

A curriculum vitae or CV is a formal document commonly used by researchers and students when applying for academic jobs. It elaborates on the candidate’s educational background and key achievements.

In Latin, curriculum vitae means “course of life.” With this in mind, if the job post requires a CV, be ready to spotlight life-changing experiences that led to your top accomplishments, education, investigations and research.

However, a CV is not for all job seekers. In the United States, it’s used to apply for academic and scientific roles.

A CV provides an in-depth understanding of a person’s research and writing achievements and creates the opportunity to include original research, portfolios and publications.

CVs are lengthy and can comprise several pages to present a complete history of your educational credentials and accomplishments. This can include teaching experience, publications, grants, awards and fellowships.

Here is a CV example to inspire you:

What is a Resume?

A resume is a formal document used to seek employment. It provides recruiters with a solid overview of your qualifications, work experience, skills, education and top achievements.

It’s a more job-focused version of a CV. The goal of your resume is to convince employers that you are the ideal candidate.

Most jobs in the United States require a resume. A well-written resume markets your skills and accomplishments to show that you are a valuable asset to the employer.

Resumes are comprised of five main parts:

The order in which you organize the parts of your resume will depend on the type of resume format you choose. There are three resume formats: chronological, functional and hybrid.

Each format has a specific strategy. For instance, the chronological shows a steady and consistent work history by placing your employment information in reverse-chronological order. This type of resume is ideal for candidates with experience of five years’ or more.

The functional resume shifts the focus from your experience to your skills. Since it doesn’t elaborate much on your work history, it’s great for entry-level job seekers and those with employment gaps.

For applicants seeking a career change or with a great deal of experience and skills, a hybrid resume works best. This type of resume is also known as a combination resume because it combines the best strategies of a functional and chronological resume format. A hybrid presents both your experience and skills in equal measure.

Here’s an example of a resume:

Learn more about resume examples and formats on The Job Seeker’s Ultimate Guide to Resume Formats.

CV Versus Resume: Key Differences

Let’s take a look at the top-three differences between a CV and a resume.



CVs are specifically for applying to college, research positions, faculty jobs or graduate school programs. Resumes are used to apply for most jobs and are used to showcase notable achievements, and work experience.



A CV presents your entire career, education and even awards and scholarships. It’s a complete background of your academic credentials, research and writings. A resume, on the other hand, is a concise highlight of your most important work achievements and skills. It summarizes your main qualifications, so employers can understand your career background at a glance.



The most noticeable difference between a CV and a resume is length.

A resume is usually kept at one page. Although, it can get longer –– the general rule is that it should be one page for every 10 years of work experience you have.

It puts a spotlight on your most valuable achievements and career goals, creating a document that is straightforward and easy to read.

A curriculum vitae, is credential-based and used to submit for jobs in academia, scientific research and medical fields. It’s main focus is to provide information specific to scholastic accomplishments.

A CV without question is longer than a resume and can run several pages.

A resume only has five parts, which include:

  • Contact Information
  • Objective or Summary
  • Experience
  • Skills
  • Education

Here’s a breakdown of the parts of a CV:

  • Contact Information
  • Education
  • Experience
  • Publications
  • Presentations
  • Awards and Honors
  • Professional Training
  • Professional Affiliations
  • University/Department/Professional Service

Optional section

  • Skills
  • Languages/Travel
  • Activities
  • Additional Avocations/Hobbies
  • References

Additional supporting documentation

  • Transcript
  • Statement of Research
  • Dissertation Abstract
  • Cover Letter

As you can see, the CV comes standard with extra sections that a resume does not.

In addition to these standard sections, a CV also has additional sections that people add such as languages, hobbies, references, transcripts and publications.

CV Versus Resume: International Differences

Different countries have different accepted practices when it comes to applying for jobs and that is a big determining factor in whether or not you should use a resume or CV.

For instance, in the U.S. and Canada a resume is the preferred document to submit to employers as part of the application process. A CV is used when applying for a job abroad or if searching for an academic or research-oriented position within the U.S.

However, in the UK, Europe, South Africa and South Asian countries, a CV can be much shorter, like a hybrid between an American resume and longer academic CV.

Like the U.S., in Europe, CVs are also used to apply for scholastic roles and are called Academic CVs.

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