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What’s the difference between a CV and a résumé?

If you’ve ever wondered what the difference is between a CV and a résumé then you’re not alone. It’s a question we get asked a lot, so rather than reply to everyone’s comments we thought it best to write a short guide. Knowing the difference will have a huge impact on your chances of getting an interview, so read on to make sure you’re completely satisfied with how they are both structured.

In a nutshell, the main differences come down to length and which country you reside in (or applying to). Although both are used to apply for a job, they are quite different in their format and overall approach.

Here’s a quick guide to help you understand the difference between a CV and a résumé:

What is a résumé? 

A résumé (French for summary or outline) is a short and concise summary of your work experience, education, qualifications, skills and achievements. A résumé can also include a career objective or personal statement summarising the job seekers aspirations and current skill set.

With its no nonsense approach, a résumé typically only covers one page, but is sometimes acceptable to spill over to two (depending on the profession). This type of application is used primarily in the United States and has to be concise and to the point, often using lots of bullet points to ensure it doesn’t go over one page.

Unlike a CV, a résumé isn’t usually expected to be in chronological order and doesn’t have to cover the applicant’s entire career or education. The résumé has to only contain relevant information and is completely customised to the position being applied for.

What is a CV? 

The CV (Curriculum Vitae) is commonly used in the United Kingdom, and is longer than a résumé at two to three pages in length – employers often expect two pages. A CV would also need to be concise, relevant and to the point; similar to the approach of a résumé, but can be more detailed and can contain a larger work history.

A CV can typically detail a job seeker’s entire education and work history, along with all skills and qualifications. Chronological order is mainly used for all time lines, and brief descriptions under each role will usually be provided for relevant roles, as well as achievements and results.

Tip – the CV can and should also be tailored and customised to the role/industry being applied, however this isn’t as obvious or necessary as a résumé is expected to be.

Medical professions sometimes require the CV format to be used even in the United States, as the résumé format would be too small to allow for background and qualifications to be written. When more information and detail is required, the CV is a better layout to use.


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