What is the difference between a resume and a CV, or curriculum vitae? Most people mistakenly use the terms interchangeably, but the documents have different purposes in the competitive arena of job searches.  Here, you will learn the difference between a resume and a CV so you know which document will best represent you on your quest for a new career.


First, a resume is a one to two-page document, possibly three-pages for senior professionals, that provides a summary of how the applicant’s skills, accomplishments, and qualifications would benefit the hiring company and best fulfill the available position. In a sense, a resume matches the applicant to the job and hiring organization.

Resumes usually include just the most recent information; covering past 10 years is more than enough.  On a resume, an applicant provides items such as his or her career positions and accomplishments, education, special skills, and relevant affiliations, certifications, and memberships. There are several ways to format a resume to best represent a job seeker’s attributes and experiences, which will be presented in a future blog; be sure to check back soon!

CV (curriculum vitae)

Next, a CV, short for curriculum vitae, is a lengthier document that provides extensive detail on a professional’s history and accomplishments. A CV’s purpose is to showcase all of a professional’s career and achievement history rather than match the professional to a particular job or specific position.  CVs are frequently used for professionals in academics, science, medicine, and government; however, there are many other professionals that also benefit from having a current CV.

The length of a CV varies according to what the individual has achieved. CVs are formatted in reverse chronological order, with the most recent information placed at the top of each section. Some of the information included in a CV includes professional positions and achievements, education and certifications, awards and honors, publications, presentations, grants, fellowships, association memberships, and/or research projects. As the individual’s career grows, his or her CV is updated to include any new information.

All Resumes and CVs must…

Whether you decide to use a resume or CV to best represent your professional accomplishments, you will need to follow these tips to make sure your document winds up at the top of the pile of applicants:

  • Keep your resume or CV current as you go, making sure to include any new information as it occurs in case you need to quickly send it out
  • Use high quality paper and a dark ink setting on your printer
  • Email your document as a PDF to ensure proper transmission without distortion
  • Mail your document in a large, flat, white envelope rather than folding it to fit into a smaller envelope
  • Send your resume or CV to a specific person, by name, if possible

All About Writing is always available to help with your resume, cv, cover letter, reference list, and follow-up thank you letter.  We also revise existing resumes and CVs as changes and additions occur to keep your information fresh and current.

by Christa Riddle

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