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.
This story has been updated since its original publication.