The CV vs. the Resume: Which should you use?

By Rosanne Ecker, Associate Director

At least once a week, I get asked the question, “What’s the difference between a resume and a CV?” It’s a great question!  Keep in mind that my answer is specific to the United States, because it’s different in other countries. Here are three key differences between a CV and a resume:

1. The purpose
A resume is designed to show that you have the skills and experience necessary to succeed in a job or an internship, that you are well-matched for the job opportunity and that you are able to hit the ground running.

A CV is designed to show that you are a scholar who has conducted research, presented your work at conferences, taught, and published articles. A CV is used to showcase your academic achievements and scholarly potential.

2. The use
A resume is used to apply to most non-academic jobs including consultant, engineer, IT specialist, accountant, jobs in marketing, communications and more. A resume is the usual document used to apply to any job where your skills are the main reason that the employer would hire you.

CVs are mostly used when applying for faculty positions, for grants or fellowships or for research positions in industry, academia or government. Whenever your research productivity and teaching experience would be valued, a CV is the way to go.

3. The length
A resume is usually one to two pages at most (with less than 3 years of full-time post-graduate experience).  It’s likely that the employer will receive many resumes for any particular position and will scan them quickly (by eye or machine) to pick out the most outstanding candidates and eliminate those that are not specifically relevant to the advertised opportunity.

On the other hand, a CV can get quite long and that’s OK.  You can use a CV to showcase all of your academic achievements, including honors and awards, teaching experience, grants you’ve received and research you’ve done, if you’re applying to a college faculty position.

Is there any time you would use elements of each in a “blended” document?
Yes! A research lab would be interested both in your research techniques, computer skills and your ability to use specific equipment, as well as the papers you presented and articles you published. In this case, you’ll be presenting both your skills which are relevant to the job as well as your scholarly accomplishments.

When should you think about “converting” your CV to a resume?
If you’ve been geared toward a college teaching position or a research role and are now considering doing something more applied, you might want to have your CV focus more on your skills than your scholarly accomplishments. You will have to eliminate some of your accomplishments in order to spotlight your skills and this can be painful!

What is the main thing that CVs and resumes have in common?
Crafting a clearly formatted document, whether a CV or a resume, is your first step in getting an interview. That’s why people put so much work into the document. It may be the first glimpse of you that an employer gets. Of course, in addition to the CV and the resume, it’s useful to have an online presence on LinkedIn or a web page where you can feature your strengths and accomplishments. It would be ideal to have connected with someone at your potential employer so that they’re expecting your resume or CV.

Should I include references on either the CV or the resume?
It ‘s not usual to include references on a resume. The employer will request them if you make the next cut or the cut after that. You also do not need to write, “references on request.” It’s better to use that space to tell the employer something more about your skills and accomplishments.

On a CV, however, it’s usual to include, or add a page, listing your references with their full title and contact information.

Where can I get someone to help me figure out which document is best for me and to review my CV or resume?
Our office! Career Services, located at 235 Schine Student Center, has drop-in hours Monday through Friday (check our website for current drop-in hours), during which a career consultant will meet with you for 15 minutes to review your document. Please bring a paper copy with you.

If you are a PhD student or an undergraduate with a CV that needs to be reviewed, please set up an appointment by calling 315-443-3616, since a CV will require more than 15 minutes.