Differences Between a CV and a Resume

An applicant holding a resume

The clearest difference between a CV and a resume comes from the origin of their names. “Résumé” is a past participle of the French word “resumer,” which means “sum up.” This document, therefore, is a summary of your character and professional experience. 

“Curriculum vitae” has its roots in Latin, meaning “course of life.” This document is a long description of your life since you joined higher levels of education. 

Aside from the definitions, we will explain three crucial differences in purpose, format, and usage in different regions.

Let’s begin!

Differences between a CV and a resume

A CV and a resume vary in three areas:

  • Purpose.
  • Format.
  • Length.


1. Purpose

A CV intends to paint a detailed picture of your academic and professional journey. Think of it as a scholar’s diary. You’re likelier to prepare a CV in educational, scientific, or research settings.

Given its purpose, you can create a universal CV and update it with your academic milestones as you achieve them. 

On the other hand, a resume is a condensation of your skills, work experience, and training. You’re likelier to prepare a resume in a corporate setting. 

Unlike a CV, you should tailor a resume to a specific job opening. 


2. Format

We’ll break down these documents’ formats into lengths and sections to paint a clearer picture. 


A CV is limitless, often spanning several pages. Several CVs contain over a decade of history in great detail.

A resume is often under one page long. Your resume can extend to two pages if you have over a decade of relevant work experience. 



A typical CV breaks into the following sections. 

  • Your contact information. This section should include your name, email, phone number, and LinkedIn profile. It should exclude information such as marital status and photos. 
  • A summary statement that condenses what the reader should expect to see in the CV. 
  • Education.
  • Research experience.
  • Publications.
  • Teaching experience. 
  • Work experience. 
  • Skills. 
  • Languages.
  • Certifications.
  • Awards and honors. 
  • Grants, fellowships, or scholarships awarded. 
  • Conferences attended. 
  • Professional memberships. 
  • References.

A resume often consists of the following sections.

  • Contact information. This section includes your name, email, phone number, and LinkedIn profile. 
  • Summary. This section is a concise paragraph that tells readers your skills and value to a company. 
  • Work experience. List each experience as concise sentences instead of descriptions, as in a CV. 
  • Education.
  • Projects. 
  • Skills.
  • Professional memberships. 
  • References. 


3. Usage in different regions

If you often use the terms “CV” and “resume” interchangeably, worry not! That’s because different regions use them differently. 

Both documents are synonyms in Africa, Europe, Asia, and the Middle East. Many job descriptions will ask for a CV that follows a resume’s format. 

These differences often apply only in the United States and Canada. However, talk to your peers before preparing these documents to get clarity.



To paint yourself in the best light, you must understand the differences between a CV and a resume. They have distinct purposes, formats, and lengths intended for different contexts.

A CV is the norm in academic, scientific, and research settings and is comprehensive. It has many sections, such as education, publications, and research experience. Additionally, there’s no page limit when writing a CV. 

On the other hand, a resume is common in corporate settings. It has fewer sections arranged into concise sentences. This brief format ensures the document stays under two pages.  

If you’re in regions outside the United States, job descriptions are likely to ask for a CV as a testimonial of your work experience. 

Ultimately, whether crafting a CV or a resume, focus on making a compelling argument by expressing your unique skills, experiences, and accomplishments. 

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