The differences between a resume and a curriculum vitae

Resume vs. curriculum vitae: What is the difference?

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For starters, resume is French for “summary” and it originally implies a brief overview of work history and educational background. On the other hand, curriculum vitae or CV is Latin for “course of life” and it usually presents a listed documentation of accomplishments in life.

Although the two terms have been used interchangeably in different countries, there is a stark difference between a resume and curriculum vitae. Take note that countries such as the United States and Canada, as well as the United Kingdom, Germany, and most part of Europe have remained strict with usage. This article lists down the differences between resume and curriculum vitae.

The difference between resume and curriculum vitae

1. Geography: Resume is the preferred application document in the United States and Canada. In most European countries such as the United Kingdom and Germany, CV is the preferred application document. In the Middle East, Southeast Asia, and the Pacific, the difference between a resume and a curriculum vitae is not properly defined.

2. Purpose: In North American countries, a resume is used primarily for applying for a position in business organizations, non-profit organizations, or government offices while a curriculum vitae is generally used for applying for a position in the academe, or for fellowships and grants. In European countries, CV is used as a universal application document.

3. Emphasis: Competencies or skills and knowledge obtained from work history and educational background are emphasized in a resume while professional and academic accomplishments are the primary focus of a curriculum vitae. Moreover, a resume is tailor-fitted to a particular job vacancy or the career track of an individual.

4. Content: Skills and knowledge obtained from professional background of an individual is commonly highlighted in a resume and thus, work history usually predominates the content. This is particularly true for experienced applicants. On the other hand, academic credentials and professional accomplishments predominate the content of a curriculum vitae.

5. Length: A resume should be 1 page to 2 pages in length only. It is a concise and specific document aimed at getting the attention of recruiters and giving them an overview of the capabilities of an applicant. On the other hand, a CV is an in-depth document with two or more pages that presents a detailed professional and academic biography of an individual.

6. Format: There is no standard format for organizing and presenting the information within a resume. There are actually five common types of resume formats. Some applicants even take a high degree of creative freedom, especially if they are applying for creative positions. However, a CV is straightforward and chronological.

Takeaway: Resume vs. curriculum vitae?

The differences between a resume and a curriculum vitae are strictly followed in the United States and Canada. In these countries, resume is a brief and often targeted application document for most organizations while a curriculum vitae is a longer and detailed application document that is preferred in academic institutions.

However, in most European countries such as the United Kingdom and Germany, a CV is the standard application document across different industries and sectors, as well as professions. Unlike resumes in North American countries in which contents are usually targeted to a particular job opening or industry, a typical curriculum vitae lists down and describes all relevant work history and academic background.

Countries in the Middle East, as well as in Asia and the Pacific do not follow a definite and restricted differentiation between a resume and a CV. Employers normally use these two terms interchangeably.

For applicants or job seekers nonetheless, it is important to determine first the employment-related norms or standards in a particular country, the industry, and/or the organization before deciding between writing and sending a resume or a curriculum vitae.