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What is the difference between a resume and a CV?

Gianna Van Heel
What is the difference between a resume and a CV?

How resumes and CVs differ in length, content, and purpose

The terms resume and CV are often used interchangeably, but there are important differences between the two documents that you should be aware of – especially in the US market.

In Europe, a CV is generally considered to be the equivalent of a US resume.

However, in the US, CVs are much more comprehensive and can be many pages long.

In this article, we explain the key differences between a resume and a CV to help you understand which one is best suited for your professional goals.

What’s the difference between a CV and resume?

There are a few key differences between a resume and CV. They include:

1) Length

Generally, a resume should be one page long.

However, it can extend to two to three pages if you have more than 7-10 years of experience.

On the other hand, a CV can be over three pages in length.

A CV includes more comprehensive information regarding your work history, education, research, and publications, for example.

Depending on the length of your career, the breadth of your experience, and the purposes you intend to use your CV for, it can span anywhere from 3-10 pages.

2) Level of detail

A resume is a focused document tailored to a specific position or type of role.

Your resume should include professional experience that is relevant to the position for which you are applying.

It should serve as a highlight reel, so to speak, of your skills, career history, and education.

As such, you can leave highly-detailed information out of your resume.

A CV is a more complete, well-rounded overview of your experience.

Your CV should include all of your experience, even if some of it doesn’t specifically pertain to the position you are seeking.

You can – and should – expand your CV to include information you wouldn’t normally include in a resume such as a detailed listing of:

  • Research
  • Publications
  • Teaching experience
  • Speaking engagements
  • Volunteer experience
  • Community involvement
  • Board memberships
  • Honors and awards
  • Distinctions
  • Professional associations

Though you will touch upon these elements on a resume, the extent to which you elaborate on them will be more concise and selective.

3) Purpose

Your resume provides a concise overview of your professional experience and skills.

It is designed to quickly convey your qualifications for a particular position.

Your CV provides an extremely thorough and complete picture of your experience.

It is intended to walk your reader through your career step-by-step in detail.

Do I need a resume or a CV?

In the US, a resume is expected for most professional positions.

A CV is primarily requested for academic and research-related positions.

CVs are more prevalent in certain fields including:

  • Academia
  • Medicine
  • Education
  • Research
  • Science

You likely won't need a CV if you work in a professional business-related field.

However, we encourage you to create a similar document where you keep a detailed record of your accomplishments and projects you have worked on.

It’s always helpful to have a complete picture of your experience in one document that lists all of your positions, contributions, awards, and publications in a great amount of detail.

Then, when you need to prepare a short-form resume, you can quickly pick and choose the information you need to put together tailored resumes for different positions.

However, if you’re considering going into academia, science, or a research-related field, definitely prepare a traditional CV.

Most of our clients who work in medical or scientific fields have both a traditional resume and more comprehensive CV.


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About the AuthorGianna Van Heel


Gianna Van Heel is a Consultant at Resume Pilots, where she leverages her interest in language and experience as a published researcher and translater to serve clients in a variety of industries.

Previously, she worked in marketing and program management for a boutique international tour operator in Washington, D.C.

Gianna graduated from the University of Notre Dame with a degree in Italian literature and philosophy.



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