What’s The Difference Between A CV And Resume?

What’s The Difference Between A CV And Resume?

The phrases “Curriculum Vitae” (CV for short) and “resume” are often used interchangeably by job listings and prospective employees alike. Is there actually any difference, or is it just a case of choosing your favourite synonym? While undoubtedly similar, resumes and CVs aren’t quite the same thing. Here’s a quick explainer.

Resume picture from Shutterstock

Curriculum Vitae is a Latin term that roughly translates to “course of life”. It’s meant to be a comprehensive document that covers your professional achievements, work skills and academic accomplishments in detail.

By contrast, a resume is supposed to be a list of work and education history along with your contact details. It should be no more than one or two pages long, whereas a CV can run for multiple pages. (Provided you have enough relevant accomplishments to share!)

In addition to length, CVs and resumes also differ when it comes to editing. The details in your CV are mostly set in stone: you should only make changes when you need to add new achievements. The contents of your resume, on the other hand, should be carefully tailored to suit the job you’re applying for: the employer has less to work with, so everything on the list needs to count.

In Australia, most employers ask for a CV so make sure you don’t send a single-page resume or you might miss out on an interview. Instead, it’s usually a good idea to include a cover letter which basically fulfills the role of a resume. (That way, they don’t have to wade through your entire CV to see if you’re an appropriate candidate.)

Even if the job listing specifically asks for a resume, you should probably include your CV as an optional attachment — just in case the employer meant one thing but asked for the other.

You can find plenty of tips on creating CVs and resumes here and here, respectively.

This story has been updated since its original publication.


  • As a hiring manager in Australia, I can tell you that there is no difference between a CV and resume in terms of whether I would hire you.

    Stick the to the basics and keep it to one page detailing your most recent work experience and how it is relevant/beneficial to the role that you are applying for (don’t need your ‘achievements’ since birth)

  • At my age (66+ years) & medical conditions, I am very retired. In past decades, I had a very full CV, and a sampler of a Resume.

    Each job interview, a custom-modified version of the CV & Resume, then archived. At each job interview, I did bring my very full CV. If the interview needed more details on obscure points, the interviewer(s) often would ask permission to photocopy the relevant page(s).

    As my decades of employment and skills grew, the range of positions and responsibilities grew. My work involvements included mental health, substance abuse, counseling, HIV-AIDS activism, etc … right up to eventually administering, fund-raising and acreditation-surveying such agencies. In my case, it was relevant to detail all my “types” of “clients”: marital status, age, race, religion, sexuality, etc. When the interview process seemed awkward, it was re-assuring to everyone that I had the “relevant” job requirement backgrounds.

    In my pocket diaries, I had written proof of dates, places, persons, agencies, etc of all my contacts. In a severe car accident, with 14 days coma, total memory loss, etc … it was very useful to re-build my legal self, for the court-room litigation (Sydney, Australia, 1992).

    • No one cares about your life story except the liberal arts majors. Anyone with that baggage will never get a US clearance let alone position involving leadership or high tech. The risks are too great.

      CV – something you write when your professional career is stagnant and you need a diversity potions to move on with.

      Instead of wasting my time, I write a straight forward resume that says here what I have done; and attach education, references as separate documents to the resume/

      There are laws in the US for asking such questions as it is profiling and often asking personal data that may not be criminal, but would serve extreme prejudice in anyone with a lifestyle not mapping to the corporate culture. Asking for any criminal or career firings is one thing, but asking me about my free time and associations says this is not the organization to be a part of.

      Even in my prior military days, I cared less about anyone’s preferences or personal values as long as they were on the battle or flight line or deck with me from 4:10 and the next 18 hours, and until the next day for 6-9 months unbroken, or in the ground off my flank or air off my wing as enlisted or officer.

      Any firm looking this deep has issues with its culture and leadership, and knows nothing about building or retaining a team. Diversity in the team empowers it to do what othjers dare not or overlook. Status quo – well, that is far as they will go.

      • Your comment was entirely unnecessary and aggressive move – making it very obvious you’ve dealt with the military. It’s fantastic that this works for you, however Greg’s comments and point of the article were to define the precise delineation between the two terms. The article did that and Greg expanded on it.

        Your perception of what a CV *should* be doesn’t change what it *is*. Building a military team is entirely different than the average work force, treating either as the same is foolish best. I hope given the time that has passed you’ve learned that, though very likely not.

  • Interesting, though I’m certain the people who have interviewed me have never known the difference. I use the term CV over résumé though, because I get anxious about using the accents when the original jobs ads won’t even go to that trouble.

  • Having had to explain the concept of reverse-chronological resumes to “professional” recruiters more than once, and (as recently as today) to suggest using the internet to locate my employer’s HR contact details, I can’t imagine that actively distinguishing between the two will yield anything more than disinterest or the sound of my files being shredded.

  • I think the word “résumé” is stupid anyway. Why do we have a word in English that has accented letters? I understand it’s a French word that we’ve just assimilated into the language, like so many other words. But there is absolutely nothing in English about accenting letters in a word like that. Yet, there it is. It should have been respelt “resumay” or something like that so it conforms to English rules. Or better yet, come up with a new English word that means the same thing.

    I hate the word, but unfortunately you can not go through life without using it, which makes it worse.

    • How continental and proper !!! You got to be kidding me as resume needs no diacritical markings. Besides, what has this to do with resumes and CVs?

      First question on your interview is a bust.

      • Without the accents, the word reads as ‘resume’, as in, “Go back and resume posting on a guest account”. I do hope you understand what the difference is between the word résumé and the word resume.

          • I posted back in May that I understood it was a French word. My argument is that we shouldn’t just have words from other languages assimilated into English with no regard for our language rules. It should have had a spelling change, or become a different word entirely.

          • And the quote of the decade has to be, “It should have been respelt “resumay” or something like that so it conforms to English rules.” What rule would that be?

            Clearly you do not understand English “language rules”, otherwise, you wouldn’t say, “*I think* the word “résumé” is stupid anyway.”, or, “*we shouldn’t*…”… both comments being your subjective OPINION. And guess what? Your opinion doesn’t count for squat.
            Perhaps you need to go back to school (if I learnt this in 4th class, then so did you!), or, go to uni and get an English degree. Then, once you graduate, you can come back here and apologise for your stupidity.

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