The difference between a Curriculum Vitae (CV) and Résumé (and does it matter?)

Curriculum Vitae

There can sometimes be confusion between the term Curriculum Vitae (CV) and Résumé, so in this article, I answer the question: ‘What is the difference between a CV and a resume?’

Curriculum Vitae (CV)

The term curriculum vitae, is Latin for ‘the course of one’s life’. Generally speaking – the term curriculum vitae is used by candidates within the areas of science, education/academia or medical communities and CV’s within these professions incorporate detailed information relating to professional activities, including journal articles, research, scholarships and publications.

A CV tends to be very comprehensive and formal in nature and will contain the following:

  • Research Interests and Experience
  • Scholarly Publications, Presentations and Reports (which is a prerequisite)
  • Education
  • Any Funding or Grants
  • Teaching and Lecturing Experience
  • Work History
  • Administrative Experience
  • Committees and Working Group Participation
  • Professional Memberships

Now contrary to popular believe, you can and should ‘blow your own trumpet’ within your CV. While a conservative document, you can still make sure your unique achievements are highlighted. You also still need to tailor your CV for every job application, so strong evidence is provided demonstrating that you do fit the job requirements.

Résumé

The résumé, on the other hand, is for everyone else and generally is the term used to describe an outline of your education, work experience and accomplishments.  Convention demands that you have one when applying for a job and your résumé is integral to the job search process. They are way shorter and less comprehensive than a CV and focus on telling a compelling story and showcasing your achievements.

Where the lines get blurred

However, this is where the fun begins, because depending on what country you live, the term used can be different and used interchangeably.

Australia

In Australia, you will often find that the job advertisements will request a CV, rather than a résumé. Often these job advertisements are associated with the professional sector. If this is the case and you are not an applying for a medical or academic position, simply change the heading of your current résumé, or alternatively, do what the majority of professional résumé writers do and that is not provide the document with a title. After all, it is pretty obvious to the reader, what the document is about, even without a title.

United States

If you are applying for a job in the US, or reside in the US, they are usually very specific in terms of the document required and make a distinction between a CV and résumé. If uncertain, just touch base with the contact on the job advertisement.

Other Jurisdictions

If applying for a job in the UK, New Zealand, Ireland or mainland Europe, then a résumé is generally referred to as a CV.  When they ask for a CV, unless a medical or academic application, simply submit your current résumé (with the document title renamed CV).

Finally, keep in mind that each country has different writing norms when it comes to presenting information within a résumé.  So do your research to make sure you meet these requirements. These writing norms matter more than the title of the document.

Other Articles you might find useful

How to write an Australian CV / Resume

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