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  • Writer's pictureMike Farragher

You Say Resume, I Say CV: What's The Difference?

Updated: Jan 10, 2021

By Mike Farragher

Since jumping into this professional branding business, I have noticed that the terminologies “resume” and “CV” are interchangeable and can cause some confusion in the process. It got me wondering: what is the difference between the two and when do you use each document?

Writers know that the first place to go when encountering word confusion is the dictionary.

Curriculum Vitae (CV) is Latin for "course of life." In contrast, Resume is a French word for "summary."

According to the UC Davis Career website, both CVs and resumes accomplish the following:

  • They are tailored for the specific job/company you are applying to

  • Should represent you as the best qualified candidate

  • Are used to get you an interview

  • Do not usually include personal interests

In many European countries, CV is used to describe all job application documents, including a resume. In the United States and Canada, CV and resume are sometimes used interchangeably.

If you are applying for both academic as well as industry (private or public sector) positions, you will need to prepare both a resume and a CV. The CV is a presentation of your full history of academic credentials. Depending on your age and tenure, the length of the document could vary greatly between candidates. In contrast, a resume presents your work summary, skills, and qualifications over a certain length of time (usually 15 years or less), and an educational summary. A resume length is generally kept to 1 or 2 pages.

You will lead with a CV when seeking fellowships, grants, postdoctoral positions, and teaching/research positions in postsecondary institutions or high-level research positions in industry. UC Davis advises that Graduate school applications sometimes require a CV, but in general are looking for a resume that includes any publications and descriptions of research projects.

If you are not sure which kind of document to submit, be in contact with us at !

Mike Farragher is the CEO and Co-Founder of Career Letters, a professional branding service specializing in resume and career profile remodeling. He is the author of six novels, playwright of 2 Off Broadway plays, and producer of an award-winning TV comedy pilot. Prior to that, he was a VP level hiring manager at Fortune 50 companies and startups in the biotech space for two decades.

Check out Career Letters at

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