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CV and Resume: What is the difference and which one do I need?




A CV (Curriculum Vitae, which means “course of life” in Latin) is an in-depth document that can be laid out over two or more pages. It contains a high level of detail about your achievements, and covers your education as well as any other accomplishments like publications, awards, honours etc.


The document tends to be organised chronologically and should make it easy to get an overview of an individual’s full working career. A CV is static and doesn’t change for different positions, the difference would be in the cover letter that you send in with the CV.



A resume, or résumé, is a concise document typically not longer than one page as the intended reader will not spend very long looking at the document. It is intended to provide a ‘snapshot’ of you and your career/working experience/achievements to date. The goal of a resume is to make an individual stand out from the competition and provide an appealing ‘taster’ which will encourage the person reading it to find out more, e.g. by inviting you for an interview.


The job seeker should adapt the resume to every position they apply for. It is in the applicant’s interest to change the resume from one job application to another and to tailor it to the needs of the specific post.



As stated, three major differences between CVs and resumes are the length, the purpose and the layout. A resume is a brief summary of your skills and experience over one or two pages, a CV is more detailed and can stretch well beyond two pages. The resume will be tailored to each position whereas the CV will stay put and any changes will be in the cover letter.


A CV has a clear chronological order listing the whole career of the individual, whereas the information in a resume can be shuffled around to best suit the applicant and the position that you are using it for. I would say the main difference between a resume and a CV is that a CV is intended to be a full record of your career history and a resume is a brief, targeted list of skills and achievements.


In summary:

CV – long, covers your entire career, static
Resume – short, no particular format rule, highly customisable


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