CV Vs Resume: What Is The Difference Between?

Christina J Colclough

By Christina Colclough

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When someone says they have sent a CV or resume to a company, we simply assume they have applied for a job opening. 

CV vs Resume

Of course, this educated guess is still correct, but there’s an obvious difference between the two terms once you look closer. Let me discuss the CV vs resume comparison further in my guides.

Differences Between A Curriculum Vitae (CV) and A Resume

A CV (Curriculum Vitae) stands for “course of life” in Latin, a comprehensive record that summarizes your entire professional and academic background. On the other hand, a resume simply highlights your key qualifications for a specific job in a concise one-to-two-page document. 

1. Definition & Length 

A CV is similar to a book of your professional life story. Thus, it can be multiple pages long and includes everything, particularly your entire work history, educational qualifications, research projects, publications, awards, grants, and even volunteer activities (though I typically see one-page CVs when recruiting at UNI Global). Long story short, all your overall achievements are comprehensively described and documented here.

On the contrary, a resume should be short and sharp (not exceeding two pages) and focus on the most relevant skills and experiences that match the job description. In simpler terms, it serves as a tailored pitch highlighting why you’re the perfect candidate for the position.

2. Content & Purpose

From my experience, a CV is often aimed at academic or research positions, as it can showcase your expertise and depth of knowledge in a particular field when structured cleverly. Meanwhile, a resume details how you can immediately benefit the team – quite suitable when applying for employers in the private sector or companies looking for directly applicable skills. 

3. Formatting & Structure

Resumes must follow a clear, concise structure with standard headings for work experience, skills, education, etc. Busy recruiters like us find them easier to scan, and you can highlight your most impressive qualifications better without them getting buried under redundant details.

On the other hand, there’s much more flexibility with CV formatting. You can organize the information chronologically, thematically, or even a combination of both! Depending on your background, feel free to add extra sections like teaching experience, fellowships, professional affiliations, or language skills.

4. Keywords & Updating

Since it targets specific jobs, a resume is often optimized with keywords from the job description to get recognized by applicant tracking systems (quite common in large corporations). 

Plus, you must update your resume frequently to tailor it for different job applications — unlike CVs, which can be modified much less often as they are a more permanent record of your achievements.

Summary Chart

LengthMultiple pages1-2 pages
FocusEntire professional & academic historySkills & experience for a specific job
Target AudienceAcademia, researchPrivate sector employers
FormattingMore flexible, can be chronological or thematicClear structure with standard sections
ContentComprehensive – all work experience, education, publications, etc.Tailored – highlights relevant skills & achievements
UpdatingLess frequentFrequent updates for different jobs

When To Use A Cover Letter Or Resume

1. When To Use A CV

As said, a CV is best suited for jobs requiring a comprehensive overview of your professional/academic achievements. Some common scenarios:

Two page version resumes

Academic Positions

When applying for professorships, research positions, or other academic roles, a CV is often the preferred document. It demonstrates your extensive research experience, publications, grants, teaching experience, etc., which are the standard criteria for measuring performances in these positions. 

Research Fields

For research-oriented fields like science, medicine, engineering, or social sciences, using a CV to showcase your expertise and research experience is the safest bet (not to mention compulsory).

Highly Specialized Fields

If you are eyeing a position in a very specialized field (e.g., niche areas within medicine or engineering), employers will likely ask for a comprehensive record of your entire professional history.

International Applications

In some countries (particularly in Europe and some parts of Asia), CVs are the standard document used for most job applications, even outside academia. Check which format is preferred before making your decision. 

2. When To Use A Resume

one page resume

Here’s the great news: resumes are the standard document used for almost all job applications in the private sector across most countries, including the US, Canada, Australia, France, and more. It applies to various fields, from marketing and sales to engineering and finance.

Customizability is one of its defining features, so make sure you have tailored your resume for each job application. Do not use your finance analyst portfolio to sign up for a social media manager position, for example! 

When your skills and experiences directly match the requirements listed in the job description, you will have a much better chance of landing an interview.

Some job titles where a resume would work best in your favor: 

  • Marketing Manager
  • Graphic Designer
  • Customer Service Representative
  • Accountant
  • Project Manager
  • Human Resources Specialist

What Should You Include In Your CV?

1. Standard Sections

Contact Information

Obviously, there’s no way a company can reach out to you without contact information. Below are some common details you must always include in your CV, regardless of your chosen field:

  • Full Name: Self-explanatory, but ensure it matches your application documents.
  • Professional Email Address: Use a work email address that looks and sounds professional. Any overly casual addresses or nicknames must be avoided at all costs.
  • Phone Number: Include a phone number with a clear country code if you apply your CV internationally
  • Optional: Consider adding your LinkedIn profile URL and a website URL if it showcases your relevant work and experience (e.g., portfolio for designers).


Always present your educational background with the most recent qualification first. Each qualification must include:

  • The full name of the institution and its city/country
  • Specific degree or diploma earned (e.g., Master of Science in Computer Science, Master of Arts in History).
  • Your major/field of study (if applicable) 
  • Graduation year (and month, if relevant)
  • Honors or Awards (e.g., Dean’s List, Scholarships)
  • (Optional) Briefly mention coursework or projects that showcase specific skills or align with your career goals.

Work Experience

Like with educational background, your professional history must also be listed in reverse chronological order, with the following details included for each position: 

  • The full company name and its city/country
  • Job title (be as specific as possible) and the dates of employment (Month & year)
  • Summary of Responsibilities and Achievements (*)

(*) This is one of the most important parts. I suggest strong action verbs to outline your key duties and accomplishments. Always focus on the actual results or impacts rather than just listing your skills without backup. If applicable, quantify those achievements (e.g., “Increased sales by 15%”).

Also, to maintain clarity, you should bullet points for each responsibility and achievement. Blocks or walls of text do not necessarily hurt your chances but are not encouraged, either.


Here’s where you introduce your expertise related to the field you’re applying to. It’s usually a mix of both:

  • Hard skills: Technical skills and proficiencies (e.g., software programs, data analysis tools).
  • Soft skills: Interpersonal qualities and transferable skills (e.g., communication, teamwork, problem-solving)

Using a generic list that can be applied to any job  and any industry is the fastest way to crush your own chances. Instead, you must thoroughly analyze the job description and choose only the most relevant skills for the specific position you’re targeting.


This section showcases your contributions to your field through published works – particularly relevant for those applying for academic or research positions.

Here, you should list all your published research papers, articles, or even books to demonstrate your expertise and knowledge in your field of study. When listing these publications, use a recognized bibliographic format like APA (American Psychological Association) or MLA (Modern Language Association) for consistency and easy reference.

Presentations and Conferences

Anyone who has presented their work at conferences or workshops should include this section in their CVs. Potential employers will be impressed if you can demonstrate (with proof) your ability to communicate complex ideas and active participation within your field!

Use this section to bring up all the conferences or workshops you’ve participated in. Be sure to mention:

  • The name of the event
  • The topic you presented on
  • The date it took place

Awards and Honors

Achievements properly recognized by credible sources or awards will leave a much stronger impression than just a simple list of relevant work experience. Make sure to mention any awards, scholarships, or fellowships you have received throughout your academic or professional career. 


Are you multilingual? Then do not hesitate to leave some room for your language skills. List all the languages you speak, read, and write, and do not forget to indicate your proficiency level for each. Common terms used: fluent, conversational, beginner,…

What Should You Include In Your Resume?

1. Contact Information

First impressions always matter. Just like with a CV,  remember to include your full name, a professional email address (avoid nicknames or anything informal), and a phone number with a clear country code if applying internationally.

2. Summary or Objective Statement 

Are you an experienced professional? In that case, I suggest a powerful pitch at the beginning (2-3 sentences) highlighting your most relevant skills and experiences. 

Example: “Results-oriented Marketing Manager with 5+ years of experience in B2B lead generation. Proven track record of increasing sales by 15% through targeted email campaigns and social media marketing initiatives.”

On the other hand, an objective statement is more suitable for entry-level candidates or those with a career shift. Use 1-2 sentences to briefly express your career goals and how they align with the company and the position you’re applying for.

Example: “Highly motivated recent graduate with a Bachelor’s degree in Graphic Design seeking a position as a Junior Graphic Designer to leverage creative skills and contribute to a team-oriented environment.”

3. Work Experience (The Core of Your Resume)

List your work history in reverse chronological order, starting with your most recent position. Each position must include: 

  • The full company name and its city/country
  • Your job title (be as specific as possible) and start and end dates (month & year).
  • Tailored achievements: Use strong verbs to outline the results and impact you made, and quantify them whenever possible with numbers or percentages. 

Always use bullet points to maintain clarity. And since this is not a CV, you don’t have to mention every achievement in your work history, especially those that have little to do with the job description. Keep this section informative yet relevant.

4. Skills

Showcase a mix of hard skills (technical proficiencies) and soft skills (interpersonal qualities) related to the specific job you’re targeting.

Double-check the job posting for relevant keywords, then scatter those keywords strategically throughout your list of skill sets to highlight how your experience directly responds to what the company is looking for.

Example: For a marketing position, you might list skills like “SEO optimization,” “Content marketing,” “Social media marketing,” “Email marketing,” and “Data analysis” (if applicable).

5. Education (If relevant)

Mention the following details: 

  • The full name of the institution you attended and its city or country
  • Specific degree earned (e.g., Bachelor of Science) and major field of study 
  • Graduation year (and month, if applicable)

For recent graduates or those with relevant coursework that aligns well with the job requirements, consider mentioning a few specific classes or projects to further emphasize your applicable skills. Example: Advanced Web Design course utilizing HTML, CSS, and JavaScript.

Extra Tips For A Job-Winning Resume and CV

1. Whether a CV or resume, typos, and grammatical errors are all-time dealbreakers. Proofread them carefully before submitting them! You can also ask a trusted friend or colleague to review them for any mistakes.

2. Maintain a consistent format throughout your CV or resume, and always double-check the headings, fonts, spacing, and bullet points. Pre-made templates from Word or Google Docs can help streamline the process here.

3. Listing work experience using a chronological structure is very common. However, for extensive expertise, you can consider a thematic approach, grouping projects or achievements by major theme (e.g., research areas, teaching experience).

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Though resumes and CVs do share some common themes, their focus and format are far from similar. Assess the job requirements carefully to decide on either of the two (or submit both if you think that’s for the best). Write to me if you still need help!

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Christina J Colclough

Christina J. Colclough

Dr Christina J. Colclough is an expert on The Future World of Work and the politics of digital technology advocating globally for the importance of the workers’ voice. She has extensive regional and global labour movement experience, is a sought-after keynote speaker, coach, and strategist advising progressive governments and worker organisations.

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