CV vs. Resume: Which Should You Use?

CV vs. Resume: Which Should You Use?

By Steve Bailey

Published on September 7, 2021

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According to CareerBuilder, nearly 24% of hiring managers spend less than 30 seconds reviewing each applicant's resume. To improve your chances when applying for jobs, you'll need to check whether a resume or CV is required. Knowing the difference between the two, along with the purpose and appropriate length of each, is essential to a successful job hunt.

Keep reading to learn more about these two documents and when you should use them — it may depend on the type of job you seek and where the employer is based.

What Is a Curriculum Vitae?

In Latin, the term curriculum vitae means "course of life." This reflects the fact that CVs tend to go into much greater detail than resumes. In the U.S., CVs are primarily used in the academic world. These documents usually include multiple pages and lots of details on professional experience, education, skills, published works, research projects, coursework, and awards and achievements.

Applying for jobs in the academic, education, medical, science, and research fields may require a CV. In addition to helping you stand out among your peers, a strong CV can help you secure grants, fellowships, and international jobs.

What Is a Resume?

Most resumes are one page and focus largely on skills, work experience, education, and contact information. A well-written resume gives employers a quick look at what you can bring to a position. Additionally, a more concise resume can sometimes make a bigger impact than a longer document — even if it means leaving out some items.

Job-seekers should understand that resumes are meant to pique employers' interest. They can convince employers to set up an interview and may serve as the starting point to a more detailed conversation.

What Are the Differences Between a CV and Resume?

Many job applicants encounter a common question: Is a resume the same as a CV? The main differences between the two come down to length, purpose, and where you live.

Content and Length

Length is a notable difference between a CV and a resume. A resume consists of just 1-2 pages and provides an overview of your skills, experience, and education. It should also only include information relevant to the job for which you're applying.

A CV, by contrast, can run three pages or longer and provides all the important details of your professional and educational background. It outlines your entire career, including your achievements, awards, publications, and research.

Geographic Location

Where you live can dictate how employers view ​​a CV versus a resume. In the U.S., a resume typically refers to a shorter document, whereas a CV includes much more detail. CVs are generally used in the academic and scientific worlds.

However, in the European Union and other parts of the world, applicants use CVs when applying to most jobs. In fact, there is little difference between a CV and a resume in the eyes of many employers abroad.

Purpose

Another key difference between a CV and resume is the purpose of each document. When applying for most jobs in the U.S., a resume works best. You simply want to give the potential employer a reason to interview you.

Applying for positions in the academic, research, scientific, and medical fields may require a CV rather than a resume. Department chairs and hiring committees in these fields often prefer to get a detailed look at each applicant's background before moving forward with the hiring process.

When to Use a CV vs. Resume

Determining when to use a CV versus a resume comes down to several key factors. If the employer is located in the U.S., you should likely submit a resume, unless the position is in the academic, medical, or scientific fields. If the position is located abroad, a CV may be a better option.

If you're unsure, reach out to the recruiter or manager supervising the hiring process.

For many job-seekers, writing both a resume and CV is good practice. While you probably won't submit both when applying for a single job, having these documents ready can give you more flexibility during the application process.

Frequently Asked Questions About CVs and Resumes

What is an international CV? true

Many jobs outside the United States require applicants to submit an international CV. On your CV, you may need to provide information like your marital status, language skills, health status, passport number, date of birth, and nationality. An international CV also goes into much greater detail than a resume.

How long are CVs? true

The typical CV runs about 2-3 pages, which is a key difference between a CV and resume. While resumes should be concise, CVs provide greater detail. If you have a lot of experience, your CV may run longer than three pages.

Do I need a CV for graduate school?

Many graduate programs require applicants to submit a CV. Even if you apply to a program without this requirement, you may be able to provide your CV as supplemental material for your application. Writing a CV can prepare you to apply for scholarships and jobs at your college or university.

Do I need a CV to apply for fellowships and grants?

A strong CV can give you credibility with committees that make decisions about awarding fellowships and grants at the graduate school level. Demonstrating your skills and experience can convince these committees that you will implement grant projects successfully and excel in fellowships.

Feature Image: Techa Tungateja / iStock / Getty Images Plus

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