The terms curriculum vitae (CV) and resume have come to be seen as meaning the same thing, and many people actually use the two interchangeably. And while both curriculum vitae and resumes serve the same primary purpose of helping people seeking employment sell themselves to prospective employers, there is nonetheless a subtle difference between a curriculum vitae and resume. And a good understanding of this difference could to a large extend determine the success of an employment candidate who decides to use one of either documents.
The main difference between a curriculum vitae and a resume lies in the level of detail. A curriculum vitae, which loosely translates to ‘flow of one’s life’ gives a more detailed account of the candidate’s academic qualifications and professional accomplishments than a resume, which tends to be a very brief summary. A typical resume tends to focus only on qualifications and professional accomplishments relevant to the position being sought, while a typical curriculum vitae shows all the applicant’s qualifications, including all certifications, licenses and awards one might have earned along the way. A curriculum vitae usually also has a whole section detailing one’s publications, which can only be fleetingly mentioned in a resume. The curriculum vitae might even show research that one did, and under whom one did it, which would be considered immodest in a resume. Consequently, the typical curriculum vitae tends to be much longer than the typical resume. In fact, recommended length a resume is one page, with a two page maximum if it must exceed a page. The recommended length of a curriculum vitae on the other hand is two pages, and more if one has the bullets to add.
Another major difference between a curriculum vitae and a resume is in their typical applications. This difference is particularly pronounced in the United States and Canada, where the curriculum vitae is typically only used by applicants to academic and research jobs, while a resume is used for all the other jobs across the board. This distinction is, however, fast spreading all over the world. A curriculum vitae is also used by people applying for scholarships, fellowships and research grants, whereas the use of a resume is generally restricted to people applying for employment only.
Yet another difference between a curriculum vitae and a resume lies in their tones. To a keen reader, a curriculum vitae tends to sound more informational, while a resume tends to sound more persuasive, even advertorial. A resume can thus be viewed as a job seekers advert in the job market, whereas a curriculum vitae is more of a factual chronology of the job seeker’s qualifications and professional accomplishments. A resume is actually meant for fast perusal (typically by a busy human resource manager), while a curriculum vitae is meant for more concentrated reading and consideration (typically by a board).
Armed with an understanding of these differences between a resume and a curriculum vitae, one is better informed on the right tool to use for the right job.