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Resumes and CVs: What’s the Difference?

Adejoke Adeboyejo Headshot

Adejoke Adeboyejo

May 6, 2024

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Resumes and CVs: What’s the Difference?

Graduates and job seekers are familiar with the words ‘resume’ and ‘CV’, which may be used interchangeably during a job search. A resume is however shorter, at about 1-2 pages, and emphasizes only relevant skills, experiences, and work contributions. It also helps you stand out from other applicants and get you an interview invite. However, a resume and CV usually contain different information and serve specific purposes. So what are the main differences between a resume and a CV?

Content and Length

The most significant difference between a resume and a CV is what they contain. The resume consists of the skills, qualifications, and experience captured succinctly as required for a job role. A CV contains a full history of your academic credentials, including educational qualifications, publications, presentations, and professional affiliations. With all this information, a CV can run into several pages. A resume is however shorter, at about 1-2 pages, and emphasises only relevant skills, experiences, and work contributions. 

Purpose and Audience

A resume and a CV are usually designed for different purposes. A resume is tailored for job roles and can be sent to recruiters and hiring managers in various industries, as long as the relevant skills and educational requirements are captured in the resume. CVs are usually directed to hiring committees, academic institutions, and research organizations and are used in applications for academic roles such as postdoctoral positions, teaching and research jobs, as well as for fellowships, grants, and graduate admissions such as Masters and PhD programs.

Format and Structure

CVs and Resumes also differ in formatting and how they are structured. A CV includes sections such as education, research experience, publications, fellowships, awards, and professional affiliations while a resume follows a standard structure of sections including contact information, personal objectives, work or volunteer experience, skills, education, and professional certifications.

It’s important to note that in most countries outside North America, especially in Europe, the word “CV” is used to describe the document used for job applications so when a job asks for a CV, bear in mind that this simply means a resume. 

What should a Resume look like?

A modern resume should contain the following:

  • Contact Information

  • Personal statement/objective

  • Resume summary

  • Professional/work experience (with details of your contributions)

  • Education

  • Skills and certifications

What should a CV include?

  • Contact Information

  • Personal statement

  • Education

  • Employment history

  • Skills

  • Publications

  • Honours and Awards

  • Certifications

  • Grants and fellowships

  • Teaching Experience

  • Research 

  • Dissertations

  • Conferences

Important things to note on your Resume and CV

  • When seeking a job, it is crucial to tailor your resume to the job description by taking note of what the employer is looking for and using the right keywords to relate your skills and experiences to the job requirements. This will help your resume be more ATS-ready.

  • A modern CV/Resume should be visually appealing, using font sizes 10-12 for paragraphs and 13-14 for headings. There should be 1-inch wide margins on all sides. Information should be arranged in distinct sections, with bullet points used in lists.

  • Always include a personal profile that describes your skills, level of experience, and career goals.

  • A modern CV/Resume should incorporate digital elements such as links to online profiles such as social media platforms, websites, work portfolios, and publications.

While both CVs and resumes serve the purpose of showcasing an individual's qualifications and experiences, they do differ in length, content, purpose, audience, and formatting. When these differences are understood, it becomes easier to design effective resumes or CVs that are tailored to the specific requirements of academic or professional opportunities. So whether you're applying for a research position or grant in academia or a corporate job in the business sector, knowing when to use a CV or a resume can make the difference in landing that first interview.

Adejoke Adeboyejo Headshot

Adejoke Adeboyejo

Adejoke is an experienced HR professional who writes about recruitment, employee engagement, and the role of technology in Human Resources.

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