The difference between a CV and a Resume

difference cv resume

What is the difference between a Resume and a Curriculum Vitae (CV)? When should I use a Resume and when is it better to use a CV? The two documents both present an overview of professional experience and academic qualifications. The differences are not always clear. Particularly when you compare the actual use of both terms in different regions. 

Resume: short, most relevant information – CV: longer, complete and detailed overview

The main differences between a Resume and CV are the comprehensiveness of the information and the tone of the document. The CV gives a complete and detailed overview of information and is often longer than 2 pages. The Resume focuses more on the most relevant information and is no longer than 2 pages.

US: Resume and sometimes CV – Europe: only CV

In North America both terms exist, but the Resume is the most common document type. In Europe the term CV is the most common, but the actual format varies depending on the job type you are applying for. Other parts of the world like Australia, India and South-Africa use both the terms CV and Resume.

CV: comprehensive overview for academic, scientific and research positions

The difference between the two document types is most clear in North America. The Resume is the most common document type. A CV is necessary when applying for an academic, scientific or research position. The CV gives a detailed synopsis of experience, education, publications and awards. The same applies for academic, scientific or research positions in Europe. But for other job types the European CV is more like the American Resume.

Resume: a tool to promote yourself

The Resume has a more advertising tone. A resume should be short (max 2 pages) and easy to read. Recruiters want to be able to scan a Resume within seconds. A Resume focuses on the most relevant information and may include a personal profile or a career goal statement. Adapt the information on your Resume to the position you are applying to. Besides providing information the Resume is also a promotion tool and a tool to help you stand out from other candidates.

European CV: more personal information

These characteristics also apply for most European CVs. In Europe most recruiters prefer a short CV that is easy to scan and suited for the job type. But there are some difference in the area of personal information. In Europe it is common to have personal information, like birth date, marital status and personal interest like sports and hobbies on your cv. Also the use of a photo on your CV is becoming more common in Europa than in North America.

European CV & US Resume: for most professions similar format

It is easy to separate the CVs from the Resumes by definitions, but both documents are often very similar. Besides the regional differences regarding the use of personal details, the CV and Resume have a lot in common. Only for academic, scientific or research positions the traditional format of the CV applies. For most job types a European CV needs to be just as brief and appealing as a Resume.

Do you want to know more about writing an English CV? Read our blogpost about writing an English CV.

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