Searching for a new job is a stressful process. After perfecting your resume and finding the right job opportunity, the last thing you want to hear is that the employer only accepts CVs. Though they’re used in similar contexts, the terms curriculum vitae (or CV) and resume sometimes refer to different things—and it can be hard to keep track of what situations call for which one.
A big difference between a resume and CV is length. A resume is typically a one-page document that briefly summarizes your qualifications, including your education, relevant skills, and past jobs and duties. The purpose isn’t to provide a comprehensive rundown of your professional life, but to cherry-pick whichever highlights will grab an employer’s attention. If you can’t fit every position you’ve held since graduation on one page, you should mention the jobs that are most similar to the job you want. Same goes for past responsibilities. A resume is meant to be customized to match each new job you apply for, and any information that isn’t relevant should be left out.
A CV, on the other hand, goes more in-depth. Taking up two or more pages, a CV covers your entire career and features detailed summaries of your accomplishments rather than short blurbs. If you’re applying for an academic position or grant, you would use your CV to list all of your publications, research projects, teaching experience, honors, and degrees. Unlike a resume, candidates submit the same CV with each new application rather than updating it to fit different jobs.
In the U.S. and Canada, employers almost always ask for resumes; the only time you’ll be required to show a CV is if you’re looking for a research or academic position. CVs are also used to apply for fellowships, tenure review, and sabbatical leave in academia.
Things start to get confusing if you’re applying for jobs overseas. In New Zealand, the UK, and other European countries, the term CV is used as catch-all for both of the documents described above, and in South Africa, India, and Australia the terms CV and resume are used interchangeably. If it’s a job where sending a resume would be appropriate in the U.S., CV probably refers to the shorter-form document. If it’s more of an academic position, they’re likely looking for a traditional CV. And if you don’t want to take the risk, it doesn’t hurt to reach out to the HR department to confirm their preference.
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