3 Critical Differences Between CVs and Resumes

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Irene McConnell
3 min read

August 1, 2022

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Alright, let me give you the punchline first. We’ll discuss the devil that hides in the details later. The 3 key differences between CVs and resumes are:

  • their length,
  • their purpose and,
  • their layout.

That being said, it’s important to note that many of these differences become redundant across certain country borders. For example, the British refer to their main career document as a “CV”, while Australians, Americans and Canadians prefer to call it a “resume”.

This is an important observation because many people use “CV” and “resume” interchangeably despite clear technical differences between the two documents.

This is particularly true in the United States. When applying for roles here, you’ll be safe using either “resume” or “CV”. Your choice of words will not negatively impact your job application.

While the British do, as a culture, prefer the word “CV” to “resume”, the UK recruitment culture shares a lot of similarities with that of Australia (indeed, a lot of recruiters do stints in both countries during their careers).

Consequently, you won’t raise too many eyebrows if you call your career marketing document one way or another.

By the way, if you’re serious about getting a senior leadership role in 2022, you’ll need a top-notch resume. Consider hiring one of our executive resume writers to elevate your executive brand and convey your value in the best possible light.

What Are The Differences Between A CV And A Resume?

If you’re a fact nerd like me, and you must know everything that there is to know about the differences between CVs and resumes, listen up.

(You never know – knowing this may help you during a future pub trivia night).

A CV, or a Curriculum Vitae, is a Latin phrase that roughly translates to “course of life”. Its intended purpose is to comprehensively cover your professional achievements, work skills and academic accomplishments. Because of this, CVs can run for as long as 3-6 pages.

In contrast, a resume summarises your skills, abilities, qualifications, work history and educational background. Resumes are usually 1-3 pages in length and tend to be customised to specific job ads to ensure that they only contain relevant information.

What To Include On A CV?

Now that you know the key differences between a CV and a resume, you’re probably starting to see why each of these document types has traditionally called for starkly different amounts of detail.

If you were asked to submit a traditional CV, you’d need to include:

  • Your Contact Information
  • Research Objective, Professional Profile, or Personal Statement
  • Your Education
  • Your Professional, Academic or Board Appointments
  • Books You’ve Published
  • Blogs You’ve Written
  • Leading Websites You’ve Been Mentioned In
  • Peer-Reviewed Publications That You’ve Been Mentioned In
  • Your Awards and Honours
  • Your Voluntary / Non-Profit Experience
  • Conferences You Have Attended
  • Your Mentoring Experience
  • Languages You Speak
  • Your Vocational Memberships
  • Your References

As you can see, this amount of detail certainly warrants the name “course of life“.

What To Include On A Resume?

A resume is significantly more succinct and more to the point than a CV. Your resume, traditionally, should only mention relevant work experiences, skills, certifications, and education. Here’s a list of typical inclusions:

  • Your Contact Information
  • Your Profile
  • Your Recent Work History (15 or so years)
  • Your Education
  • Your Achievements

Final Words About CV vs Resume Differences.

Remember that you must keep the cultural context in mind despite clear technical differences between a traditional CV and a traditional resume.

A resume is the preferred application document in the US and Canada. Americans and Canadians would only use a CV when applying for a job abroad or if searching for an academic or research-oriented position.

In Australia, India and South Africa, the terms “resume” and “CV” are used interchangeably.

In the UK, Ireland and New Zealand, a CV is used in all contexts the documents aren’t referred to as “resumes” at all.

Also, remember that landing your dream role involves more than just having the perfect resume (or a CV).

The resume will often get you a foot in the door; once it does, it will be up to you to convert this opportunity into a solid job offer. This means being very clear about your strengths, weaknesses, reasons behind your career moves, mandates, and how they weave together to form your overall value proposition.

Finally, ensure you invest the time to build meaningful connections with recruiters and managers.

The days of simply spamming the job market with your resume, and applying only to advertised positions are over.

The job market is fierce. Your application is likely to be one of hundreds, and a recruiter’s decision to invite you for an interview will often depend on your pre-existing relationship with you.



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