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CV and Resume: What’s the Difference?

career planning
Last updated on November 12, 2020

Find out how a CV is different from a resume, which one you should use, and what info to include to set yourself apart from the crowd.

A female international student intern candidate sits across from an interviewer as they look over her resume

Applying for a job for the first time can be confusing. During your research, you may have come across the terms CV and resume. To present yourself as a strong candidate when applying for a job in the US (or any part of the world), knowing the difference between a CV and a resume is crucial. Read on to learn what they are, when to use one versus the other, employer and country preferences, and more.

What is a CV?

A CV (short for curriculum vitae) is a document outlining information on your career, education, skills, and achievements, including scholarships and awards. Generally, a CV is two to three pages long. The length of a CV can vary depending on your work experience.   

There are three different types of CV formats:

  1. Chronological CV—This is the most commonly used curriculum vitae format, and it lists your work history starting with the most recent position. Use a chronological CV if you have prior work experience and want to highlight your skills and project experience.

  2. Functional CV—Also known as a skill-based CV, this format is used to focus on your skills and work experience, instead of chronological work history. While it is not as widely used as a chronological CV, a functional CV can be preferable if you have not worked previously, have gaps in your career history, or want to change careers.

  3. Combination CV—This format is a combination of a chronological CV and a functional CV. Using a combination CV, you can highlight your skills and provide a chronological work history.

What is a resume?

A resume is a document summarizing your education, work experience, and skills. The length of a resume may depend upon years of work experience. However, for most applicants, it can be kept to a single page.

Generally, there are four standard types of resumes:

  1. Chronological resume—Similar to the chronological CV, this resume format lists your work experience in descending chronological order, starting with your most recent position. This is the standard format that many hiring managers prefer.

  2. Functional resume—This format emphasizes skills and experience over employment history. A functional resume format is ideal if you are changing careers or have little work experience.

  3. Combined resume—A combined resume is a mix of a chronological and functional formats. This resume format highlights your skills and experience before listing your employment history in descending chronological order.

  4. Targeted resume—A targeted resume is a customized document highlighting your qualifications and experience for a specific job opening. Generally, a targeted resume requires more preparation since it is tailored to one prospective company at a time.

What are the differences between a CV and a resume?

The main differences between a CV and a resume are:

  • Length

  • Type of information included

  • The ability to customize for specific job roles

At a glance

What should you include in your CV?

When preparing your CV, you should include:

  • Your name and contact information

  • Personal statement (a brief overview of your professional background and career objectives)

  • Professional experience

  • Academic qualifications

  • Technical and personal skills

A CV could also include:

  • Certifications

  • Language fluency

  • Publications

  • Awards or honors received

  • Interests and hobbies

  • Volunteer work

What should you include in your resume?

The purpose of your resume is to provide employers with a quick overview of your skills and experiences. You should include:

  • Name and contact information

  • Resume summary or objective statement (similar to a personal statement in a CV)

  • Employment history

  • Educational accomplishments

  • Skills and certifications relevant to the job

How do a CV and a resume differ based on the country?

While resumes are the most commonly used format for job applicants in the US, employers in other countries may request a CV. The table below goes over how the requirements for a CV and resume can change based on the country. Keep in mind that the table covers a general overview of what to include in a CV and a resume for each country—so remember to do research before applying and update your CV or resume accordingly.

How to prepare a good CV

Here are some important tips you can use to make your CV stand apart from the crowd:

  • Review successfully prepared CVs—Doing additional research helps you identify what information employers are looking for in CVs, including good ways to structure your CV and CV examples and templates for each job role.

  • Keep your CV simple—Write your CV clearly and concisely. Your prospective employer should be able to navigate through the document easily.

  • Make your CV unique—Highlight your qualifications and experience that are directly relevant to the job you are applying for. You should also include a well-written personal statement to give a good first impression.

  • Proofread your CV—After preparing your CV, read your CV once (or twice) to ensure there are no spelling and grammatical errors.

Some tips for preparing a successful resume

To land your dream job, it is necessary to have an exceptional resume. Here are some tips to consider when preparing your resume.

  • Look for relevant keywords—Each time you apply for a job, look for important keywords by reading the job descriptions and include these exact words or phrases in your resume. These keywords are what the employer is looking for in a candidate.

  • Refer to resume examples—By reviewing various resume examples, you can pick an ideal format that will work best for you and identify which information will make your resume stand out.

  • Include only relevant information—Unlike a CV, a resume is a summary of your academic qualifications and work experience. Keep your resume as brief as possible.

  • Proofread—Read your resume several times and correct any grammatical and spelling errors.

Preparing a successful CV or resume for the first time can be challenging, especially when there are different requirements for each country. However, by taking your time and doing enough research, you will be able to create a CV or a resume that is best suited to the job and will make a good first impression. 

Good luck with your job search!

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