[email protected] 1 518 935 2775

CV vs. Resume: so Similar yet Different

There is a wise saying: “If the university doesn’t want a CV, don’t send a CV. They won’t look at it.” Curriculum vitae is an ancient Latin concept which literally means “the course of life”. It refers to the detailed description of one’s education, employment history, and skills.

There are two types of applicants today: those who consider resume and CV as like as two peas in a pot and those who simply don’t know what the hell CV is. In most cases, it’s not that dramatic to understand the difference. But there are some awkward situations which may come up as the result of using CV instead of the resume. So, don’t make your future employer get at you by yelling: “Put it into your pipe and smoke it: CV is NOT the SAME as RESUME!”

For all those who know Latin at least at the elementary level, the question about their difference is not raised. In fact, “Curriculum Vitae is literally translated as “the course of life” and means “a short autobiography.” Would you call a professional resume an analogue of your short biography? I guess; the answer is obviously “No.” Historically, it was used in medicine, academic and scientific fields by the outstanding scientists. So, sometimes CV goes neither here nor there. By means, constructing a valuable CV is an acid test.

CV is a document depicting your career history together with primary academic achievements and skills. Often it includes a brief portfolio as an attachment. Unlike resume, its size is unlimited. Besides, it can be used in certain spheres of employment like federal jobs or military service. Most often CVs are ordered for Ph.D. or teaching positions.

Pros & Cons

Let’s analyze each with the help of “pros and cons” tool.

Way to Apply




  • Straightforward
  • Concise
  • Keeps to the point
  • Chronologically ordered mostly
  • Do not have to invent a bicycle
  • Simple templates used
  • Too narrow and too much specific
  • Suits only one particular job or closely related jobs
  • Many details skipped
  • Too much formal
  • It’s hard to stand out


  • More of a freestyle
  • Creative and innovative
  • More space for flight
  • Is a reflection of who you are
  • Too much unnecessary words
  • A complete mess in structure
  • Takes so long to review…
  • …So it takes you longer to wait for the response!

A Dilemma: Which One To Select?

First of all, you should answer one crucial question: “Is the job you’re dreaming of a kind of a nonacademic/academic one?” Let me bring up few examples to explain. CV is suitable whenever your future position is related to creative, academic and scientific field. From one side, when a position requires a wagon of publications, studies and workshops enclosed in your professional portfolio, of course, CV is the only way out. It’s the best way to prove your competency in a certain field. In other words, when your achievements, personal qualities, awards, education gained are more important than previous work experience (or you have no work experience at all), involve CV writing to include all of your outstanding results in it.

1)       The research productivity description is desired for such jobs as various scientists (chemists, physicians, biologists);

2)       The detailed teacher experience report is obligatory for any pedagogical job. It’s a question of trust even more than the question of your educational background or technical skills. It is believed that teachers and professors are responsible not only for training and sharing knowledge with their students, but also for their own safety and security. Most parents claim they won’t leave their offspring with a total stranger without a thousand of references and recommendations. Well, we are not even talking about the possible criminal background like stealing a candy from a store 20 years ago);

3)       Creative portfolios are required from potential artists (actors, painters, designers, musicians) and printing personnel.




Who shall use?

– Business people

– IT staff

– Communications

– Faculty directed individuals, fellowships activists, grants



Military, governmental, executive, professional Elementary, some professionals


To call a spade a spade, develop a resume. It is rather narrow; it covers only the surface of your life focusing on career history, higher education and relevant skills. Cramming too many details, tones of descriptions, or list of hobbies is too much undesirable. Include only those facts which really cut a big swath.

Remember: what an employer does not want for sure is a story about the needs, desires and dreams of the applicant. How would you like “Amway” ad, in which its Executive Director the blood from the nose would tell the company needs to achieve high profits this year to pay shareholders increased dividends instead of mentioning their notorious liquid dishwashing benefits.

Tell Me Where You Come From

Another side of the coin is a country of applicant’s origin. The cultures differ as night and day. In the United States and English speaking Canada, the word “resume” is frequently  used across the commercial sector and consists from the brief applicant’s information for no longer than 1-2 pages. CV is more popular in the North America. In the UK, Ireland, New Zealand and French speaking Canada, “CV” is spelled more often. However, it refers to the regular resume format.

In Russia and neighboring counties, CV and resume are often considered as synonyms. It is proved by some forum quotes like: “In my opinion it’s the same thing, one name in Latine (Curriculum Vitae), the second originally in French, then it penetrated many other language groups (including Russian).”

To sum up, CV is commonly used throughout the world, while the U.S. companies are more comfortable with resumes; frankly speaking, this is mostly because American staff is a bit lazy to scan through the canvas text.

A Round Peg In A Square Hole

Finally, to make sure this is your true calling, some organizations demand both, professional resume and a complete CV. First of all this concerns laboratories. To hire you, they’re equally interested in your scientific observations as well as rich set of technical skills and scholarly accomplishments.

Anyway, it is always easier to shorten something than to enlarge. So, if you can boast an outstanding CV, you can quickly convert it to resume at any time. That’s why CV is recommended to start with. To avoid missing any important details, we would recommend taking notes for your CV since higher education years.

Summary: Off We Go

To make this eternal dispute clear, we brought all the differences together in one list:

  • The objective. A resume’s target is to show you have gone through fire (your past work experience) and water (your educational background) to get the job. Show your deep interest and overall job awareness by providing an impressive set of professional and technical skills.
  • Target audience. It was mentioned in the table above.
  • The length. Once more, resume is about brevity. Come clarity and try to narrow it down to 2-3 pages no matter how big your experience is. Avoid some less crucial details to leave enough space for your aces. It should allow quick scanning of the document. As for CV, pretend that you are writing a dissertation about your own life instead of Macedonian’s and Plato’s. Any honored works can be attached in full to prove your qualifications.
  • References list. While you may skip this section in your resume (or simply write, “References are available upon request” at the very end), they play one of the most important roles while developing a CV. Make sure all of the referees are available at the moment of CV’s delivery!

Resume and CV are as thick as thieves: they both play the same role in your career building. Whatever you prefer, try to value resume/CV as the only tool to reach the second stage of your employment process which is a job interview.

Writing a CV or a resume is always a creative job strictly limited at the same time. It’s like accomplishing a big-sized puzzle. To save your valuable time, leave this problem for our high-quality specialists. These resume writers are capable of upgrading Cinderella-resume to the level of a Princess.

Free Resume Check. Get paid $100 for your perfect resume*

Upload resume
*$100 are offered in the shape of discount for our Career Counseling & Job Search Assistance services.