Resume vs. Curriculum Vitae

Originally appeared on Local Eye Site

Before I began a job search of my own, I used to think that a Curriculum Vitae (CV) and a resume were interchangeable terms describing a document that summed up all of my life’s accomplishments on one page. However, I quickly learned that they are not the same thing. While they both serve a similar function, it is important to know the differences and when to use one versus the other.

In a nutshell, a CV is a longer, detailed documentation of your accomplishments – specifically focusing on academics, research, and scholarly publications. A resume, on the other hand, is a quick summary of education, work experience, and skills that is often reduced to one page and tailored to different readers. Below are some more specific differences:

Curriculum Vitae

Focus: A CV is mainly focused on academic accomplishments, such as research, publications, and honors.

When to use: A CV is the way to go when your academic research and teaching experience would be valued in a position. Typically, submit a CV when you are applying for academic, education, medical, or research positions. If you aren’t sure, ask which one the employer would prefer.

Length: A CV can be as long as necessary, although they are typically 1-3 pages. The CV of a new graduate should be about one page, front and back. Expect your CV to grow as you become more seasoned in your expertise.

Highlights: Although there is no one right way to construct a CV, they typically highlight the following information:

  • Contact Information
  • Areas of Interest
  • Education
  • Academic & Related Employment
  • Research, Publications, and Presentations
  • Professional Membership
  • Community Interest
  • References

Other Differences: If you are applying for a job outside of the US, you will probably have to submit a CV.


Focus: A resume focuses on your accomplishments in education, work, leadership, and skills. Resumes are tailored many different ways based on the desired position and different readers.

When to use: When applying to a job where your previous experience is just as valuable as your academics. Typically, you should use a resume when you are applying to a hiring manager for a nonacademic position

Length: It is recommended that a resume does not exceed one page for a recent graduate. However, resumes may be up to two pages for someone with a lot of work experience.

Highlights: There is no one correct way to construct a resume. It is important to figure out what works for your desired position or company, but typically a resume covers the following information:

  • Contact Information
  • Objective
  • Education, Honors, and Awards
  • Work Experience
  • Volunteer and Extracurricular Activities
  • Skills, Training, and Leadership

Other Differences: A hiring manager looks at a resume for an average of 15 seconds, so it is important to tailor each resume to the specific job so that you can include what is the most relevant or important.

Although resumes and CVs are very similar, they are not interchangeable. No two employers are going to prefer exactly the same thing, so it may be in your best interest to have a working document of both a CV and resume just in case. If you are still unsure, don’t hesitate to ask the employer which document they would best prefer.


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