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What's the difference between résumé and CV?

When is résumé used? And when is CV used? Are they equivalent?

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More context may be helpful for better answers. Examples of situations where you were not sure which to use? –  Jimi Oke Mar 16 '12 at 0:01
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Just a point: the correct spelling is résumé, otherwise it is "resume", like "resume eating". –  Richard Haven Mar 16 '12 at 5:27
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@RichardHaven - I think in America résumé now called 'freedom CV' –  mgb Mar 16 '12 at 14:44
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@Richard Haven: It's debatable that the correct spelling is "resume" not "résumé". In practice one sees much more often the version without diacritical marks. In English pronunciation is not indicated by the use of diacritical marks (whether it should be is a different issue) and their use usually indicates a word written literally in some other language; resume ceased to be such a more many decades ago. It's perhaps even incoherent to try to indicate English pronunciation via orthography, since it's not habitually done. Certainly "resume" is correct also. –  Dan Fox Apr 28 at 14:58

6 Answers 6

up vote 26 down vote accepted

In modern English and in the HR sense, they are pretty much used interchangeably and most people assume they mean the same thing.

If you look at their etymology, though, "curriculum vitae" should technically describe what happened over the course of your life, i.e. who your parents were, when and where you were born, upbringing, education, etc., before going into your work experience, while "resume" should sum up your relevant experience and is arguably targeted to your audience, i.e. if it's for an IT job, you'd leave out that you worked as a waiter during your Uni years and you wouldn't think of mentioning your parents (unless maybe their names are Bill Gates or something).

So I would always call what I send for a job application a "resume", but recruiters in my space (IT) typically say "please attach your CV" and mean the same thing. I suppose which you use depends on how pedantic you want to be....

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+1. I still remember the first time I heard one of my former boss said "Send me your CV." "What's CV?" I asked. "It's a resume," he replied. –  Damkerng T. Dec 12 '13 at 7:48

My experience as an academic in the U.S. makes me conclude that the difference between a resume and a CV is primarily functional: a resume introduces an applicant to a prospective employer, while a CV provides an overview of a person's professional career for various purposes, including but not at all limited to a job hunt.

In academia a guest speaker's CV contains the sort of information the audience would like to hear about when the speaker is introduced. It also provides prospective employers with vital information regarding a person's qualifications for a particular assignment, but must typically be accompanied by a statement, usually in the form of cover letter, stating the ways in which the applicant's education and experience qualify the applicant for the position or assignment being sought. A resume, on the other hand, often begins with a description of the position being sought and, unlike most CVs, emphasizes the person's acquired skills and accomplishments relevant to that position.

Both resumes and CVs typically include lists of degrees, job history, awards, professional memberships, and completed projects, presentations, or publications, but the detailed content and format in which these appear may differ greatly from resume to resume depending on its purpose while being more standardized and all-purpose in a CV. A senior scholar often has a CV dozens of pages long but also maintains a set of bioblurbs ranging in length from 100 to 800 words for use in conference programs, lecture announcements, and grant applications.

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I think most of the answers so far are speaking about the use of the terms in the US.

In the UK, it's always called a CV, with the exception of a few specialist fields like performance arts, musical theatre, acting, etc., where it is called a résumé (and this will not necessarily be known by people outside those industries).

These fields excepted, I always assumed résumé was just the American English term for CV. The assertion above that CVs are some monstrosity of "an untold number of pages" is just not true here. CVs are almost ubiquitously two pages long (although academic ones may indeed be longer, and ones in other particular fields may be shorter).

In short: CV is the dominant term for the document, but there are a few special circumstances where you might say résumé instead.

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+1 for rightly pointing out that there are regional variations. Most British people would identify résumé as 'What Americans call a CV'. –  Tom W Apr 28 at 11:53

My experience in the US: in academia, CV; in business, resume.

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In my experience, the CV Curriculum Vitae is used more in Britain and is quite thorough, 2/3 pages in length. Whereas a resume is usually a single page, used primarily in the US.

Now, as I said. That's my experience of it having successfully applying for jobs in both places - Others opinion's may differ.

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A simple difference:

CV is WAY LONGER.

Resumes come in a million forms, but they are almost always concise and one page long.

CVs, however, can run on for an untold number of pages-- they usually represent a PhD-holder with a very extensive list of publications, research contributions, and work experience which they wish to share. I've seen CVs go on for a dozen pages.

So in essence, a CV is a bigger, badder resume. 90%+ of people don't need one, and employers don't want to see one.

EDIT: This is only true in the United States. The terms have different meanings in other countries.

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I don't think this answer is wrong, exactly, but rather applicable in only a small subfield of professional life: Academia. –  Uticensis Aug 20 '13 at 0:52
    
I am not agree with you. when you pass out from university and going to take jobs at that time you have C.V. and at the time goes after some experience it converted into Resume with field experience. firstly C.V has only detail about curriculum not any field experience. that is why it is called C.V. still in india it is widely used. –  Java D Dec 12 '13 at 11:12
    
@Java The answer specifically says that this is how the terms differ in the US. How the terms differ in India is irrelevant to agreeing or disagreeing with the answer. Also, if you pass out from university, you're not doing it right. –  Janus Bahs Jacquet Aug 12 at 22:20

protected by RegDwigнt Dec 12 '13 at 9:52

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