What’s it called: Resume, Curriculum Vitae or CV?

Wednesday, June 25th, 2008 - CV format, CV Help, CV Writing, Education, Employment, graduate cv, how to make a cv, How to Write a CV, tutorial

Resume, Curriculum Vitae or CV?

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Jennifer asks: From a North American perspective, technically, the resume and the CV are two very different documents, but those terms are often used interchangeably, which seems to create confusion for everyone involved (including me!). We often have students that come in saying an employer has requested a CV, not knowing if the employer really wants a resume or a true CV, or what the difference is. My understanding has always been that the resume’s primary focus is experience, while the curriculum vitae’s focus is scholarly pursuits (i.e. research, publications, conferences, etc.). Based on this, there are very few industries for which a true CV is required, and they are used most frequently by people with doctoral degrees (most of us wouldn’t really have anything to put on a CV!). The structure, content, and expectations of a CV are very different than that of a resume. So I think it is confusing to job seekers, for example, when people say “Your CV shouldn’t exceed 2 pages in length.” Since they list everything, CVs are often 30+ pages in length! I’d like to get feedback on how you use these 2 terms, either when hiring or providing job search assistance. Do you use them interchangeably? Does the term CV have a different meaning in your industry? If so, what do you expect to see in this document?

In Answer:
A few mixed metaphors and meanings there.

For a physical paper/s that summarise your skills for a job or post, or your career history, in two pages or more, the terms are:

  • Resume is the standard term in North America
  • Curriculum Vitae is the standard term in all other English speaking locations around the world (often in those shortened to CV, occasionally replaced by Resume by younger age groups), and all French speaking locations
  • In Germany its called a Lebenslauf

There is an amendment to the above, where by some US Ivy League university people, educators and scientists with long academic qualifications use the term Curriculum Vitae when referring to their full resume, as opposed to a two page piece created for a job application. Personally, I think the term portfolio is a better word to use, as then many other relevant pieces to a lifetime of work and achievement can be inserted.

I hope that helps – Good Luck!

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