Do You Need a CV or a Resume?

You’ve probably heard the terms CV and resume thrown around a lot. Are they the same thing, or different? How do you know if you need a CV, a resume, or both? Here’s a quick guide to CVs versus resumes and how to know which one is right for you.

Are CVs and Resumes the Same or Different?

First up, what exactly are CVs and resumes, and what’s the difference? Both are documents used to demonstrate your qualifications. They share the same purpose—showing an employer or admissions committee what you have accomplished and what makes you a great candidate. Both include things like your education and your work history.

But make no mistake, there are important differences. CV is short for curriculum vitae meaning “life’s course.” So a CV is comprehensive. There are no limits on the length of a CV. Depending on how much experience a person has, a CV could be three, five, or even ten pages long. A CV includes everything relevant you’ve ever done, from degrees and jobs to presentations, publications, licenses, awards, courses taught, and more, going all the way back to the beginning of your career. CVs are often used in academic settings and so include a lot more academic work like publications, teaching experience, and presentations at conferences.

A resume, on the other hand, is a concise summary, narrowly targeted at the current job. A resume is typically just one full page. In some cases, a resume can go to two full pages, but no more. Work history on a resume usually doesn’t go back more than 10 years, and there’s no need—and no room!—to include everything you’ve ever done. A resume is mainly focused on education and work experience, with a few extras like community service thrown in to round it out.

You Probably Need a Resume

For most people, in most fields, a resume is the way to go. A resume is the standard on the job market. Most hiring managers don’t have the time or the inclination to read more than a page or two from each candidate. And for most professionals, all those other items on a CV—like publications and courses taught—just aren’t applicable. When in doubt, go with a resume.

When to Use A CV

There is a time and place to use a CV, however. People working in academia typically need a CV. If you’re hoping to land a job as a professor, use a CV to highlight all the different aspects of your experience, from your own education to your research, teaching experience, work history and professional service. If you’re not looking to be a faculty member but want to work in an academic setting—supervising programs at a college, for example—you may also be asked to submit a CV because it is the norm in higher education.

Even if you’re not in academia, you may wish to use a CV if you have very extensive experience in your field. Some folks have been in their chosen field for ten, twenty or more years, and have very well-rounded experience including professional service, publications, and so on. If there’s just no way to fit all your relevant work onto two pages, and if a posting asks for either a CV or a resume, go with a CV.

Still not sure whether a CV or resume is right for you? Come see us at Career Services!


Shalom Leo Bond
Career Development Facilitator
UNM Career Services

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