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Curriculum Vitae versus Resume: What's the Difference?

Curriculum Vitae versus Resume: What's the Difference?

By Mark Swartz
Monster Senior Contributing Writer

Occasionally as a job seeker you will run across a request to apply for a job using a CV (Curriculum Vitae) when you might have been expecting to be asked for a resume. Is there a difference?

If you happen to live in Quebec, the terms CV and resume tend to be used interchangeably. However in Canada’s other provinces a CV is substantially different from a typical resume. The majority of job applicants should use the standard, two-page-maximum resume. It is what most employers want to see.

But if you are a senior executive, a lawyer, professor, physician or scientist, then you will likely opt to use a CV. That is because the latter document can be much longer than two pages – in fact it should be lengthy, impressive and highly detailed.

What A CV Contains That Most Resumes Don’t

Both a resume and CV contain a Summary Statement that tries to capture the best of you in 100 words or less. Then you have the Work History (also known as Employment Highlights, Work Experience, etc.) This is followed by any Special Skills you may have, and possibly a section devoted to Awards and Honours you may have received over the years.

For a CV, the above content is merely a starting point. Beyond the standard fare is a range of sections that might be included, depending on what type of employer you are applying to. Here are the other areas that you might consider adding when putting together your Curriculum Vitae:



  • Professional Licenses or Certifications



  • Listing of Relevant Course Work to Match Career or Academic Objective
  • Scientific or Academic Research, Laboratory Experience, Grants Received
  • Description of Thesis or Dissertation (if you have advanced degrees)
  • Papers, Books And Other Related Publications You Have Written
  • Academic or Professional Presentations Delivered
  • Travel / Exposure to Cultural Experiences
  • Additional Information that May Support Objective or Qualifications
  • Letters of Recommendation or a List of References
  • Professional Development You Have Undertaken


Less Is Not More With a CV

While you do not want to bury a prospective employer in an avalanche of information about yourself, a CV is often at least five to ten pages in length. If you are a senior practitioner in your field, your Curriculum Vitae may well extend to 20 pages and beyond. This is so that you can list how extensively you have been published and include your many speaking engagements of a professional nature. Over time these things add up.

The overall impression that you want to get across is that your achievements are so vast, that your work history and/or credentials are so far-reaching, that you come off looking rock solid as a candidate for the positions you will be applying to.

Make certain that you read any instructions provided by employers in their job postings. When it comes to CV’s, some employers are very specific about what they want you to include and how the information should be laid out. Follow the instructions then submit a stellar CV when appropriate – and your next job may be closer than you think.



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