CV vs. Resume

Please attach your resume….ok.
Please attach your CV….sure.
Please attach your resume and CV…..huh?

Admit it, at some point in your life you were convinced that these two were one and the same. Well don’t worry too much because you’re not alone. The fact that you’re on this page means that enough people have the same question; Exactly what is the difference between a Curriculum Vitae and a Resume?

The Curriculum Vitae (CV)

Curriculum Vitae is a Latin term for ‘Course of Life’. Sounds intense, doesn’t it? It’s an in-depth, comprehensive document that details academic achievements, licenses, certifications, and even professional researches conducted. The reason for this is that CVs are mostly used for the academic and research fields, which require their applicants to cover their entire career in the  documentation. Totally dependent on an applicant’s background, there is no standardized length for CVs—some are known to go for 30 pages or more!

Unlike its flexible little brother, the resume, CVs are seldom reformatted. It’a a one-fit document for every application waiting down the road. Parts like the reference list and cover letter, conditional as they are for resumes, are usually mandatory even before the request of a hiring manager.

The Resume

The resume is, more or less, the portable, adjustable version of the Curriculum Vitae. If CVs get more impressive as they grow in pages, resumes are designed to show recruiters the bits of experience that actually touch the job of interest. Because of this, resumes are mostly compressed to one or two pages, omitting data that stray away from the requirements of the job opening.   

Another thing to note is that with resumes – you’re allowed to play around with the presentation of your work history. With CVs, the history can only be presented in chronological order. With a resume, an applicant can capitalize on whatever data ups his qualification for the job. You can actually list work you did from five years ago before something from two months ago, as long as it makes sense to highlight experience that’s relevant to a particular job posting. 

Should you have both?

CVs and resumes, though different, actually compliment each other. Having a CV is handy when adjusting your resume. They are the master pool of everything you’ve done related to your professional life.  It makes adjusting your key qualifications for your resume much easier. 

However, in North America, CVs are used only when applying for academic, medical or scientific research positions. So, unless you’re applying to an international job posting or these research-type positions, your resume is your best friend.