I've heard the term CV thrown around all over this site. I know it is somewhat related to a resume.

How exactly do the two differ?

(Why) would you maintain two separate documents?

  • no resumés in the UK, only CV's. Commented Jul 24, 2012 at 13:04
  • Mexico also has CV's only
    – jclozano
    Commented Jul 24, 2012 at 15:07
  • South Africa also only works with CV's. It seems like the US is the exception and not the rule.
    – Tjaart
    Commented Jul 26, 2012 at 8:37
  • 3
    This question appears to be off-topic because it is about a word definition that can be easily Googled and does not require our expertise.
    – Jim G.
    Commented Aug 5, 2014 at 18:19
  • 2
    Isn't this like asking how is a carpark different from a driveway. It isnt""?? Just because you name something different doesn't mean it's a different thing.
    – Brandin
    Commented Aug 5, 2014 at 18:20

5 Answers 5


In most contexts, CV ( Curriculum vitae ) and resume are used interchangeably. Different countries and different industries tend to prefer one term over another. An academic job in any country will typically ask for a CV, a non-academic job in the United States will typically ask for a resume, other countries (such as most European companies) will prefer the term CV. In most cases, everyone is talking about the same thing.

In theory, a CV is longer and more complete than a resume while a resume is more like an executive summary. In practice, though, it is pretty rare for one person to have both. Most people realistically have something between a CV and a resume that they call one or the other depending on the cultural context. If you are applying for an academic position anywhere in the world, the expectation is that the hiring university is going to want to have a detailed list of the publications you've authored, the positions you've held, the awards you've received, etc. so they will ask for a CV. If you are looking for a job in Germany (or in most European countries), the hiring company will typically want more detailed listing of the positions you've held than would a similar American company. German companies will typically ask for a CV, American companies will typically ask for a resume.

In reality, there is a lot of grey. I've seen dozens of resumes for American companies that were much more CV-like in their length. I'm sure there are plenty of European companies that have received hundreds of resume-like CVs that were a bit shorter than expected. Certain industries tend to evolve preferences for longer or shorter forms-- information technology "resumes" for example tend to be longer, more detailed, and more CV-like than "resumes" for a marketing position even in the same company in the same country. Companies themselves aren't generally particularly concerned about which term they use in ads because of the cultural context-- plenty of job postings will say "send resume/CV to" while expecting one or the other (or some hybrid) depending on cultural context.

  • 2
    +1 The terms CV and resume are used interchangeably. In the end you customize it towards what your receiver expects. If you don't know how they want your CV/resume: ask them.
    – Spoike
    Commented Jul 22, 2012 at 8:40
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    It is not uncommon for an academic to have both a resume and a CV, or a short and long CV Commented Aug 5, 2012 at 15:25
  • Wish I had more than one upvote to give. This was so good, useful and exactly what I was looking for as an answer that I created/linked an account on this SE site just to upvote you. Thanks a tonne! Commented Sep 15, 2012 at 10:33
  • The battle I fight when hiring... When I get resumes I feel I didn't get enough information and really wish I had CVs so I could narrow things down better. When I get CVs I wish I had resumes because reading three - four pages only to find the person isn't qualified for the job can be burdensome to my time and patience. (especially when their are A LOT of them) to be fair though I could have HR filter more for me, but I prefer to be more involved in the hiring process. I like to know I'm bringing in quality employees. Commented Aug 5, 2014 at 18:32

CV stands for Curriculum Vitae - Latin for "my life".

Essentially it is the same as a resume for the purposes of getting a job.

  • 1
    @acolyte It's in use in the US in academia
    – HLGEM
    Commented Jul 20, 2012 at 20:16
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    ...and it is generally longer than a resume. A CV is traditionally inclusive of everything while a resume is tailored to the position sought after and may not contain a full history.
    – Jacob G
    Commented Jul 20, 2012 at 20:23
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    This is the great start of an answer. But could you explain how it is different than a resume and how it is used in the US and in the EU/rest of the world. Commented Jul 20, 2012 at 20:44
  • 3
    @Izkata - Not quite. A simple example would be the following - in my life, I have had 13 jobs. The last 5 in Software. My resume, now, only contains software jobs as I only apply for software positions. However, my CV would list all 13 jobs. However, neither would contain examples of my work as a portfolio would.
    – Jacob G
    Commented Jul 21, 2012 at 3:10
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    @Oded: more like "Life career". :D
    – Alenanno
    Commented Oct 22, 2012 at 9:32

i'm still unclear as to ... why you'd maintain two separate documents

Since the others already have great answers I'd offer advice on how to manage your CV and resumes. You rarely have "two" versions of the same document, when you've been job hunting for a while you'll end up with one such document per employer since it is good strategy to tailor your job application to make yourself more relevant to them.

Quick tip: Keep a career document

A career document is basically a list of with all your education, courses, projects, work experience, and other pieces of note that you'd think would be relevant. The more details you can think, the better. You only need to update it once or twice a year (depending on how often you need to add your new experiences in it).

There are a couple of reasons why you should have such a document:

Reason #1: Maintain a baseline of your career

That way you only have to maintain one main document that you can rewrite (or output) to many.

When you're looking for other opportunities and have to send in a job application, then you have to tailor that document down to the CV/Resume that your potential employer wants. That way you can make yourself relevant by highlighting things that would benefit and remove the things that are just fluff.

Most of the time people who have go through CV's actually appreciate short resumes because they have to wade through 100's for a day. Although in some settings, such as academic, they appreciate more details which result in longer CV.

Reason #2: Have an overview of your career

With just one document to glance through, you can make several decisions on what you want to do with your career. Sometimes it will give you opportunities as in knowing what training you need to proceed.

Talking about yourself is usually difficult. Writing something about what you've done makes it easier to remember where you come from and what you've done so far. This is invaluable in situations where you have to present yourself or in interviewing situations. It is a way to build up your confidence, by writing down that what makes you "awesome" down on paper.

Before going on interviews I sometimes draw a mindmap to easier remember what I need to talk about. I start with Work and Knowledge and go from there, adding both the good and the bad, highlighting and crossing things. Having done a career document actually makes it easier for you to think through your situation and what you want to do.

  • 1
    @MarkBooth: Actually the OP did ask: why you'd maintain two separate documents which the other answers did not address.
    – Spoike
    Commented Jul 25, 2012 at 11:45
  • @Spoike i considered the other two answers to have covered the 'why 2 docs' part because they made the difference clear, and thus i was able to imply why separate docs. would be helpful.
    – acolyte
    Commented Jul 25, 2012 at 19:34


They have the same purpose, it's just that resume is the term used in North America, it's supposed to be shorter than a CV and contain pretty much the same information as a CV but with less details.


A resume provides a summary of your education, work history, credentials, and other accomplishments and skills. There are also optional sections, including a resume objective and career summary statement. Resumes are the most common document requested of applicants in job applications.

CVs include information on one’s academic background, including teaching experience, degrees, research, awards, publications, presentations, and other achievements. CVs are thus much longer than resumes, and include more information, particularly related to academic background.


  • A CV will have full descriptions while resume will often use bulleted lists (such as this one) to keep the informations concise
  • Resumes are the most used in the US, though some profession prefer to use CV, mostly those implying a lot of studies
  • While a CV is supposed to contain all your experiences and studies, a resume is often thought for a specific position, where you put only the experiences and studies related to the job you are applying for

BONUS : in other languages

In french, spanish and italian, the word CV is used for both resumes and CVs, while in german CV and Résumé seem to be synonyms, and both can either fit the english definition of CV or resume depending on the content.

If you want more information, you can check here.

  • in France CV is used for both versions :/
    – Walfrat
    Commented Aug 10, 2017 at 8:59
  • @Walfrat Yes, in France we use the term "CV" for both CV and resumes, we just adapt the content to the job. For example, I work in a french IT firm right now and even though I call it "mon CV" it's actually closer in english to the definition of resume.
    – sh5164
    Commented Aug 10, 2017 at 9:03
  • @Walfrat Should I add the fact that in France both are called CV ? I assumed we were only talking of the english terms for this question.
    – sh5164
    Commented Aug 10, 2017 at 9:04
  • I don't think putting specifically "France" make sense in that post, but maybe a more generic sentence like "in some place, only one word is used for both".
    – Walfrat
    Commented Aug 10, 2017 at 9:07
  • @Walfrat Good idea, I'll just check if there is other countries than France that do that and then I'll edit my answer.
    – sh5164
    Commented Aug 10, 2017 at 9:10

Short answer with no longer answer: They are the synonyms. The only difference is that "résumé" comes from Latin with Old French roots, whereas "Curriculum Vitae" comes directly from Latin. The term "CV" began being used in the earlier 20th century, whereas the term résumé has been used since the 19th century.

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