What’s the difference between a Resume and a CV?

Regardless of your field, it is likely that people will ask you for either a resume or a curriculum vitae (CV). Here are few tips to help you differentiate which is which.


Resumes are typically used when exploring professional opportunities and is a snapshot in time of your career thus far. Many recruiters have to read through hundreds, potentially thousands of resumes and pick candidates from the pack, with each resume getting read in a minute or less. As such, effective resumes are succinct, typically not surpassing a page in length. Make sure that you immediately grab the reader’s attention and highlight why you want a specific job, your qualifications, and why you would be a good fit for their team. A resume is not the place to belabor your job description. Use it to highlight your achievements! Also, be sure to scan the job posting to look for keywords that the recruiters are looking for in a potential candidate. For example, if the job posting explicitly states they want someone who has project management skills, be sure to highlight your project management experiences.

Curriculum vitae (CV):

The direct Latin translation of curriculum vitae is “course of (one’s) life”. So, when you think of the actual definition of the phrase, it should come to no surprise that a CV is longer than a resume. CVs are primarily used in an academic setting, so if you are applying for a lab position or for graduate school, it is likely that you’ll be asked to provide a CV. As a matter of fact, if you plan on going the traditional route into academia (college -> graduate school -> post doc -> professor), it is possible that you will never need to write a resume in your entire life. It contains full details about your career including your academic history, professional career/work career, publications, conferences attended, and awards.

Keep in mind when writing a CV that you don’t necessarily need to include all of the aspects listed in the table. As you start off in your academic career, your CV will be shorter, and as you progress, it will gradually get longer. Many professors have CVs that are over 20 pages long!

We will do a post at a later date on tips to approach either a CV or a resume. Stay tuned!  

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