Resume or CV (Curriculum Vitae)? Here's the difference – Ladders

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Do you have a resume or a CV? And what’s the difference, if any? Many use the terms interchangeably. However, there are fundamental differences between the two. So, what is the difference, and when is it appropriate to use a resume vs. a curriculum vitae?

A resume and a CV are both used for job applications. However, they generally are not interchangeable. The primary differences between a resume and CV are what you use each for, their length, and the type of content included.
In the US, a curriculum vitae, or CV, is most commonly used for jobs in medical fields, academia, and research. It provides a comprehensive and in-depth view of a candidate’s credentials, including education, training, work experience, research experience, publications, certifications, and professional memberships and affiliations. A CV can be a rather lengthy document compared to a resume.

A resume, on the other hand, is competency-based. It serves as a professional marketing tool highlighting a candidate’s past work experience, education, skills, and professional achievements. They tend to be no longer than two pages – depending on levels of experience – and are required for most job postings in the US.

A CV is a detailed picture of your achievements and skills, emphasizing academic and research experience. As with a resume, your CV has your name and contact information at the top. From there, it includes information about your experience, awards, degrees, presentations, publications, relevant affiliations, and other notable achievements. Grants, fellowships, and professional licensures pertinent to the position you’re applying for are also included.

Curriculum vitae for entry-level candidates are typically a minimum of two to three pages. For mid-level candidates and higher, they can be much longer.

A CV summary is a condensed version of your CV, and it concisely provides employers with a snapshot of your achievements, skills, and qualifications. For example, employers that expect to receive a high volume of candidates for a position might request a one-to-two-page CV summary to begin the application process. As a next step, a full CV is generally asked of those that receive an interview for the position.
In short — Yes. While curriculum vitae are requested primarily for academia, medical fields, and research in the US, they are asked for more frequently than resumes outside of the US. For example, it is common for CVs to be requested in Europe, Asia, and Africa for all job openings. However, though more detailed, the format of an international CV closely reflects the structure and requirements of resumes in the US.

International CVs often require more details regarding personal information compared to US CVs. This is partly due to more stringent employment laws in the US, such as the Equal Employment Opportunity Act, that prohibit employers from requesting or asking about specific personal details. For example, employers cannot ask about race, marital status, or how many children you have in the US, whereas other countries might allow requests for this type of information.

Pro Tip: It’s best to research the CV requirements for the country in which the position is located, as each country has different variations of requirements, including length and content to include.

A resume is a condensed version of your work history and education. A well-structured resume includes, at a minimum, your contact information, summary, work history, and education – generally in that order.

In most instances, a resume should be no longer than two pages, and it should be no longer than a page for entry-level and inexperienced hires. Resumes should utilize bullet points throughout to make them easily scannable by recruiters and hiring managers.
Whether you’re writing a curriculum vitae or a resume, the goals are the same — to land an interview and the position. Though the structure and length are somewhat different, some commonalities apply to both. The following tips will ensure you write a powerful CV or resume to attract an employer’s attention.

Review the job description for the position and ensure that your resume or CV highlights the relevant experience, accomplishments, and skills you possess that align with it.
Review the job description to identify keywords you can incorporate into your resume or CV. Keywords help your document pass applicant tracking systems (ATS), so it has the opportunity to be seen by recruiters and hiring managers.
A resume and CV should include all relevant highlights that make you stand out from the competition. Be detailed and use quantifiable information for your achievements and accomplishments where possible.

Though there are standard formats for resumes and CVs, there are often nuances and slightly different preferences between industries. Research the types of resumes and CVs available online for your industry to understand what format is best for you. As discussed below, you can also work with a professional writer or agency to guide you.
One approach to ensuring the proper format and layout of your resume or CV is to use a template. There are several free templates online to choose from. Ladders offers 73 unique resume template examples, including example text specific to that resume, that can be downloaded and edited free. Each includes a unique cover letter example, too.
It should be common sense, though you might be surprised to learn that one of the frequent mistakes recruiters say job candidates make is not proofreading their resume or CV. If needed, ask a friend to proofread your document for you or hire a professional writer or editor to do it.
If you don’t have time or aren’t sure where to start, a great option is to hire a CV or resume writer or agency to help you. Ladders’ partner, Leet Resumes, rewrites professional resumes free of charge, and bases its approach on years of experience with resumes, recruiters, and the evolution of applicant tracking systems.
Use these tips to ensure you have a solid resume or CV to submit for job applications. Then, you can submit your application with confidence to land the interview, and hopefully, the job!


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