Have you ever seen the term “CV” listed on a job posting and wondered what that means?

CV stands for curriculum vitae, and while it’s very similar to a resume, there are some major differences between the two documents. Here’s a comparison chart to help you determine which one to have in your job-seeking portfolio.


Curriculum Vitae Resume

Two or more pages

One page (sometimes two)

Definition & Purpose

Curriculum vitae is Latin for “course of life,” which aptly describes its purpose in the job market.

Think of a CV as your professional and educational journey. It’s a detailed chronological story that tells employers about the knowledge, experience, and accomplishments that “made” you, with a heavy focus on academics.

A resume is a concise document focused primarily on relevant work experience gained from previous jobs. Its main purpose is to grab the attention of a hiring manager or human resource professional, so that you are considered for an interview.

It should be easily scannable and include details that set you apart from the competition.

When To Use

In the U.S. and Canada, a CV is typically required when applying for international, academic, scientific, or research positions. For example, many teaching positions in higher education will require a CV. Usually an employer will explicitly state whether a CV or a resume is needed.

A resume is the preferred format to apply for most jobs in the U.S. and Canada. Unless the application instructions specifically ask for a CV, you’ll need an updated resume for your job search.

  • Name and contact information
  • Education and summary of your academic background (more details than what you would include on a resume, including areas of focus and academic achievements)
  • Work experience and relevant work-related skills
  • Teaching and/or research experience
  • Accomplishments such as publications, presentations, awards, honors, affiliations
  • Name and contact information
  • Education (generally just where you studied and degrees earned)
  • Work experience and relevant work-related skills
  • Key achievements related to your career, relevant to the position

Reverse-chronological by section, starting with education and your academic achievements followed by your professional experience. Group into categories for easy reading, such as: all academic info, all work experience, all publications, etc.

Reverse-chronological, starting with your most recent position followed by past jobs held. Usually education and achievements are last, but if you’re new to the field you might want to list your education first. You also don’t have to include ALL of your experience, just the relevant stuff.


CVs are comprehensive by nature, but to avoid overwhelming your reader it is important to customize your document. Use the job posting as a guide, and select your most relevant qualifications to highlight.

It’s important to customize a resume to the position for which you’re applying. This allows you to use relevant industry terms and tailor your experience to the job requirements.


To summarize, the main differences between a CV and a resume are:

  • Length
  • Usage
  • Contents (topics, level of detail, organization)


A good way to remember the differences is to think of a CV as your professional and academic biography, whereas your resume is the “CliffsNotes” summary of your skills and achievements.




Need help developing your CV or resume? Capella University students and alumni enjoy free, lifetime access to the Capella Career Center for career planning and advice.