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This is a question I am asked every week – what exactly is the difference between a Curriculum Vitae (CV for short) and a resume?

In Australia, most people would probably say that there is little difference between a CV and a resume, and in fact, the terms are often used interchangeably. However, and this is when it can get a little tricky, if you are thinking of applying for a position overseas, you should consider this: in New Zealand, the UK and parts of Europe, the term CV is used to describe both CV and resume-style documents, but they do not tend to use the term “resume” at all. In the US and Canada however, a resume and CV are two very distinct types of document – a resume is a short, targeted document that you use to apply for jobs, while a CV is only used for academic applications (e.g. academic jobs, grant applications, research fellowships etc.)

Confused? Well, a clue lies in the origin of the words: Curriculum Vitae, a Latin expression meaning “course of (one’s) life”, immediately indicates that a CV will be a detailed description of your work history, your education, qualifications and training, and details of such things as professional membership, publications, awards and achievements. However, a resume, which comes from the French word meaning “summary” or “to sum up” indicates that this should be a shorter, concise document, targeted to a specific job, and tailored to give an employer a brief overview of your relevant work history and qualifications.

So, in Australia, whilst the two terms are used equally throughout job vacancy advertisements, and indeed, by prospective employees themselves, I tend to think that it comes down to a couple of factors:

  • Length – A noticeable difference between a CV and a resume is how long each one of them is. A resume is kept short and brief (usually 1-2 pages), whereas a CV is far more detailed, (it can go up to 3-4 pages, or even more, depending on your education, qualifications and work experience).
  • Type of information to include – your CV will generally be a comprehensive list of your academic accomplishments, employment history, professional memberships, publications etc, usually all listed in chronological order, whereas your resume may only detail information relevant to the position you are applying for.
  • Format – a quick search on the internet will give you a whole range of layouts, but one size definitely does not fit all! If document production is not of your strengths, perhaps it is time to consider using a professional service to work with you to design a knock-out CV and/or resume – after all, these are your calling cards, and you want to stand out from the crowd! Check out the great range of sample templates here on our website and give us a call today. View our resume templates here.

Remember, if you are in any doubt about whether you should submit a CV or a resume, reach out to the recruiter or hiring manager and ask for clarification – providing the right document which includes the most relevant information for your application is crucial, and will ensure that the employer is seeing the very best ‘snapshot’ of you.

One last tip – do make an effort to review and update your CV regularly – it should be a living document that changes and evolves as you grow in experience and competency. Have you recently completed a new qualification or undertaken some training? Add it to your CV. Have you received an award or been recognised for an achievement? Add it to your CV. Have you had an article published in an industry journal? Add it to your CV.

Then, by simply selecting the relevant information from your CV, you will be able to produce a tailor-made resume at any time – saving time and stress when that perfect job appears!