The terms ‘resume’ and ‘CV’ are thrown around a lot, and often interchangeably. Sometimes employers use CV because they think it sounds more formal and professional, though that might not actually be what they want. A resume and a CV are not one and the same and are often crafted for different audiences.

What is a CV?

A CV or curriculum vitae is commonly used in academic, research, and medical fields. It is a detailed chronology of your career showcasing not only your employment history, but also awards, honors, publications, academic appointments, administrative appointments, research projects, grants, presentations, speaking engagements, and more. There really isn’t a page limit for CVs as it will vary from person to person and depend on the extent of their career and experience.

Unlike a resume, a CV stays fairly consistent. It is not a document that is necessarily tailored to a specific job, except maybe what order sections are listed in. Otherwise, you just keep adding cumulative information as your career progresses.

What is a Resume?

A resume, on the other hand, is a brief overview of your career. It doesn’t have to include every job you’ve ever held or paper you’ve written; in fact, it shouldn’t. Instead, you’re highlighting the key points employers need to know. On your resume, you detail specific achievements and responsibilities for each position. A CV may or may not include this type of description.

Also, your resume is supposed to be short and to the point – three pages maximum. It is also a document that you should be tailoring to each position you apply for by tweaking your summary of qualifications, core competencies, and achievements. There is no summary or competencies listed on a CV, at least not in the same fashion as on a resume.

Which One Should You Use?

Whether you choose a resume or CV depends on your audience as well as your career. Many people have both and use the one that best suits the situation. The majority of job seekers, however, will want to use a resume, as this is what many employers expect. A resume is a wonderful way to quickly and effectively present yourself to a potential employer and show why you would be a good fit for the position and organization. Having a CV available can be helpful should an employer ask, or to use as a master document on which you compile all of your career history and then pull select items for your resume.