A CV is Not a Resume: Who Knew?

Ever been at a party and the term CV came up and you just thought it was another way of saying resume or cover letter? You are not alone.


Ever been at a party and the term CV came up and you just thought it was another way of saying resume or cover letter? You are not alone. Many of us that have never had to use a CV, see it so many times associated with a resume that some of us have thought it was a short way of saying cover letter. Not.

There is a stark difference between resumes and CV’s, but if you are not an academic you will not need a CV unless you are specifically asked to provide one. For instance, when applying for jobs abroad.

But what are the differences?

The CV

The first thing that you notice about a CV when requested, if requested, is the length. It can go on for up to 5-6 pages depending on how long a career and how many accomplishments that person has. As the accomplishments grow, so does the CV, which stands for curriculum vitae, a term in Latin that means course of life.

If you are a Ph. D. you are familiar with this document instead of a resume. Those seeking employment in Universities are asked for their CV. Besides listing your skills and work experiences you will also be asked to list:

  1. Awards- what for? Where? When?
  2. Honors- why? Scholarship included?
  3. Publications- No matter how small you think they are. Stories, poems, and published dissertations. List names of and published dates.
  4. Achievements- Include all. Clubs, inventions, improvements made at any universities or companies you have worked for due to your input.

The importance of getting published for an academic run deep. It can make or break their career. The CV is not job specific as a resume is. It is academic specific and is a very important document for those that are post graduates.

If you are not in need of a CV now in your career, it does not hurt to keep a running list of your achievements just in case you are requested to submit one. A professional can help you format and design it to fit the requirements of the job you are seeking.


The Resume

This is the shortest of the two documents that is usually accompanied by a cover letter. This is a job specific document that is used by everyone looking for employment.

The resume focuses on:

  • Job performance
  • Skills
  • Specific job postings
  • Job history
  • Job objectives

The resume will change as job postings change, unlike the CV, which grows as you grow. The only concern that a hiring manager has when it comes to your resume is your past job achievements and what you can bring to their company.

How do I know When to Use Which?

Do not be alarmed. The hiring company will make clear which of these documents that they are interested in. However, it is suggested by professional job hunt sites that you prepare both. Especially if you are considering going abroad for schooling. You may need a job while you are there.

It would do well to recognize which countries utilize which of these documents. In Australia, and South Africa for instance the two documents are used for similar purposes. Usage seems to be left up to the individual companies, which is what you will experience with most places.

For instance, a British applicant will usually apply with a CV, a U.S. citizen with a resume, but they still must depend on what the hiring company requires, so again, be prepared.

A Cover Letter for Both?

The decision to write a cover letter, to make your introduction to the hiring manager, for your resume or your CV is also something that will come up in the job posting. It is important that you read the job posting through to know what the requirements are from job to job.

The main thing is to keep these documents up to date. They should be revisited every 6 months depending on how your career is going.

Author: Veronica Wright

Hi, I'm Veronica from Resumes Centre. I'm here to share all my struggles and experience about daily routine and give you as much career tips as possible.