Curriculum Vitae, Résumé and Cover Letter: what is the difference?

In the English-speaking world, a curriculum vitae and a résumé are both used to apply for jobs. However, there are some key differences you should know about.

Additionally, a curriculum vitae or résumé is almost always accompanied by a cover letter that is specifically tailored to the company and position you are applying for and explains why you, the applicant, would be a good candidate for the position.

Applying for a job
Writing a curriculum vitae or resume

Curriculum Vitae

A CV or curriculum vitae is a longer document that, in addition to previous work experience, should contain information about your achievements such as volunteer experience, published articles or books, or awards and honors. A CV is ordered in chronological order so that the person viewing the CV can get the full story of a person’s career.

When applying for a job, the CV will always remain the same, and often follows a common format.

You must always provide a cover letter and that letter should should be tailored to the specific job.

RÉSUMÉ

On the other hand, a résumé is one page document that is meant to be read quickly. The goal is to make the applicant stand out from the competition in the reduced space they have. There is no standard format, instead the applicant adapts their resume to the position and company they are applying to. While it doesn’t need to be ordered chronologically, it should give the company a good idea of your entire career.

CV

Resume

Meant to provide a comprehensive view of the applicant’s work history. Meant to make the applicant stand out from her competition.
Longer

  • 2+ pages
Short

  • 1 page
Standard layout. No standard layout.
Used in the UK, Ireland and New Zealand.

Also prefered in Europe.

Used in the United States and Canada. CVs in these countries are used when applying for an academic position.

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How to prepare for a meeting (or job interview) in English

Need help writing your CV in English? Or help preparing for job interviews? Find an English teacher at goprofe.com for face-to-face private classes.

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