Resume versus Curriculum Vitae

There is often confusion between the words resume and curriculum vitae or CV in short. What exactly is the difference, or similarity, between a resume and a curriculum vitae?

The main difference is in the use of the English language. In American English, used mainly in the U.S., Canada, and the Latin countries, a resume (from French meaning “summary”) is a document containing a summary of your job experience and education, usually for the purpose of obtaining an interview for a job. A resume is usually short – no more than one or two pages; and since it is directed to a particular position, it is precise and only relevant information is given. (There are different views regarding the length of a resume.)

Curriculum Vitae (from Latin meaning “course of life”) or CV, on the other hand, is used in two different forms:

1. In British English, a Curriculum Vitae (or CV) is the exact same thing as a resume is in American English. This form is used mainly in the U.K., the Commonwealth countries, and Europe.

2. In American English, a Curriculum Vitae (or CV) has a different connotation. It is a longer document than a resume, and includes a comprehensive listing of professional history including every term of employment, academic credential, publication, contribution or significant achievement. It is used for applying to graduate or professional programs, or when promoting oneself within professional and academic fields. These may be several pages in length, sometimes up to 20 or more.

Have you, or any one you know, been confused by these terms?

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