CV or not CV – What is the difference between a resume and a CV?

by K B , updated on June 17, 2013

cvWhat is the difference between a resume and a CV?

I often get hammered when I say that in Australia these terms are used interchangeably.

So when Susan Wareham McGrath popped into my inbox with this post explaining the difference, I jumped up and said YES!

Read on if you’re confused.

Susan’s a good friend of mine. She blogs on careers, resumes, jobs and all things social media on the Career Ignition website.

Let her enlighten you.

CV or not CV – What is the difference between a resume and a CV?

Interview IQ was recently asked by a contributor to the blog to explain the difference between a resume and a CV. The answer is simple.  In current Australian recruitment terminology, the terms “resume” and “CV” are used interchangeably.

Historically, there was a significant difference between a resume and a CV.

The term “resume” was used to refer to a succinct document, generally kept to four pages or less, containing details of an applicant’s skills, experience, education and employment background.

The term “CV” referred to a much longer document, generally used for positions relating to academia and the medical profession.  CVs contained all the information included in a resume, as well as:

  • far more detail about the applicant’s education and
  • a comprehensive listing of the applicant’s professional history, including every term of employment, all their postnomials and academic qualifications, a list of all their publications, presentations at conferences and other academic engagements.

While applicants for academic roles still need to provide all the information that historically was included in a CV, many of Australia’s leading universities now refer to the document as a “resume”.

For example, Melbourne University says “There is no difference between a resume and a curriculum vitae (CV). The terms are used interchangeably”.  The University of Queensland states that applicants for academic positions must include a copy of their “resume” with their application; and in its online application form, Sydney University also requests applicants to upload their “resume”.

While there is no difference between a resume and a CV in Australian terms, job applicants looking to work overseas should be aware that there’s quite a significant difference in other countries and take that into account when tailoring their application.

Susan Wareham McGrath is the Founder of the Career Ignition blog and a guest poster on Interview IQ.   

K B

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{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

sukhjeet singh June 19, 2013 at 4:28 am

i don’t know it is cv if reasume.but it is real life every word is true.and i found distny.my life dream land.help how is the any body .i am hard worker as a heavy duty truck driver.it is my life.u can see me on faceboo/sukhjeet.singh.3154@facebook.com

Richard August 27, 2013 at 3:48 pm

I would suggest another point of difference is that the term CV is less “user friendly” and a tad old fashioned. I suspect that if we surveyed 1000 people most of them would know what the term “resume” meant but many more would have no clue what a “CV” is (or what the initials mean). During my 6 years in HR for the University of Sydney and 3 years in recruitment consulting I was often asked for resume writing advice. I tended to say “First thing is, swap CV for resume, on your resume.” Not everyone reading your resume is a recruitment professional. So I think it’s wise to avoid creating a barrier between you and the reader by using less familiar terms like “CV.”

No doubt I’ve just put the cat amongst the pigeons for some HR professionals!

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