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CV vs. Resume: Which Option Is Right for You?

Differences, similarities, and what to include in each

Hiring manager reviewing resumes and CVs
Image courtesy of Van Tay Media

Many people use the terms “CV” and “resume” interchangeably; however, they are two different documents. When you’re considering a CV vs. resume, it’s important to have a good understanding of what each document is, when each should be used, and which document will work best for your situation.

What is a CV?

CV is short for the Latin term curriculum vitae, which translates to “course of life.” In short, a CV is a written overview of someone's life's work.

This document is largely credential-based and includes detailed information about a candidate’s work history, education, research, publications, presentations, and other accolades. A CV is often at least two pages long, but can be longer depending on the length of the person’s professional or academic career.

What is a resume? 

A resume is a snapshot of a person’s career and is used to paint a succinct picture of what a candidate has to offer and what value they would bring to the job they are applying to.

This document is most effective when it is achievement-based and summarizes a person’s education, employment history, specialized training, and accolades.

Read more: 12 Questions You Should Be Asking Recruiters

How are they different?

“A CV is more typical for academic roles or international applicants. CVs are longer than resumes and tend to give more information, listing publications and possibly personal interests. While a resume tends to have a maximum of two pages, CVs are regularly longer—in the three- to five-page range,” explains career coach Alyson Garrido.

While a CV is very detailed and does not have strict constraints on length, it is widely thought that a resume should be no longer than two pages, with an optimal length of one page, depending on the applicant and length of time spent in the workforce. A CV is most commonly used in academia and science, as well as for grant applications, whereas resumes are used throughout every industry. 

Think of your resume like a movie trailer. A movie trailer includes all of the best parts of a movie to entice viewers to watch the whole thing. A resume should include only the most notable achievements and accolades to entice the reader (often the hiring manager or recruiter) to learn more about you through an interview. 

The goal of a resume is not to get you the job. The goal of a resume is to get you an interview, or to get the reader to want to learn more about you (most often through a call/interview).


  • Credential-based

  • Extremely detailed

  • Often two pages or more

  • No maximum length

  • Lists publications

  • Lists presentations/seminars

  • Lists research

  • Often used in academia, science, and research-oriented fields


  • Achievement-based

  • Summarizes information

  • One to two pages maximum

  • Does not always list publications

  • Does not always list presentations/seminars

  • Does not always list research

  • Used in all fields

Both include:

  • Full name

  • Contact information (email address and phone number)

  • Skills

  • Work history

  • Education

  • Awards

How do you know when to use a resume and when to use a CV? 

The majority of people will always use a resume. If a CV is required, the recipient will likely ask for a CV. If a CV is requested and you do not work in academia or research, clarify if the recipient would like a detailed CV or if a resume would work instead. When contemplating a CV vs. resume, note that hiring managers usually prefer a resume because it provides a more succinct picture of the candidate.

When you’re applying to jobs, it is essential that the reader can quickly scan your document to see if you have all of the required qualifications. Submitting a CV would make this task difficult. This is where a resume that is catered to the job you’re applying for becomes essential. Integrating the correct keywords can increase your chances of making it through the first application step and getting past an applicant tracking system. 

If someone asks for a resume, can you provide a CV?

Unless instructed otherwise, a resume will generally be more effective than a CV. When determining whether a CV or resume is best for you, consider that each corporate job gets an average of 250 applicants, and some big companies like Google have recorded three million applicants per year. Given those numbers, recruiters simply won’t have the time to read through an entire CV. This means they will probably not pick out the necessary information if they do glance at your CV, but it’s more likely that they will skip over the long document due to time constraints.

Read more: 21 Cover Letter Tips to Make Writing Quick & Easy

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