CV vs Resume: Exactly what’s the difference

business woman smiling at candidate

Learn the difference between a CV and a resume with our quick guide.

You’d be forgiven for thinking that a CV and a resume are the same thing, because in the UK, they are. However, there are a few instances in which the subtle differences between the two do matter, so it’s important to know what distinguishes a CV from a resume.

Here, we provide a no-nonsense guide to the differences between a CV and a resume, and offer tips and advice on when it’s appropriate to use them.

Quick navigation

What is a CV?

What is a resume?

How do a CV and a resume differ?

When to use a CV

When to use a resume

What is a CV?

A CV or curriculum vitae is a document which details your career history, education, professional references and personal bio. It is a detailed summary, presented in reverse chronological order, which should broadcast your skills, knowledge and experience to prospective employers.

Typically, a CV will include the following elements, in this order:

• Name and contact information

• Professional summary

• Professional job history

• Education

• Key skills

• Miscellaneous information (awards, special qualifications etc.)

• Professional references

man checking over his CV

What is a resume?

A resume is a document which summarises your professional history, skills and education. The term resume is French, and translates as ‘summary’ or ‘abstract’. This gives you a sense for what a good resume should do: give a summary of your key skills and experience as succinctly as possible.

Here’s the information included on a typical resume:

• Name and contact information

• Succinct professional summary or personal objective statement

• Professional history

• Education


How do a CV and a resume differ?

As you can see from the above, there’s very little difference between a CV and a resume in terms of content. Where they do differ, however, is in their length; CVs tend to be more detailed than resumes, and also include professional references.

When looking at the differences between CVs and resumes, it’s important to consider regionality. The term resume tends to be used in the US, where there is a noticeable difference between that and a CV. Elsewhere, and particularly in the UK, CV is preferred and there’s no virtually no difference between that and a resume, not even in terms of length.

However, as you’ll learn in the section below, there are some situations in which it’s important to use a resume as opposed to a CV, so knowing how they differ is important.

job interview

When to use a CV

For most jobs in the UK, you’ll need to provide a CV which details your professional history, experience and knowledge. CVs tend to be around two pages in length, and should include professional references so the hiring manager or recruiter can check your credentials.

Here’s the criteria for when it’s acceptable to send a CV to a prospective employer:

• If the company is based in the UK or Europe

• If they’ve specifically asked for a CV

• If professional references are required

• If the job you’re applying for doesn’t have an application form

The content of your CV may differ depending on the industry you work in. For example, if you work in science and research, your CV may be longer to account for the various projects you’ve worked on and knowledge you’ve attained throughout your career.

We’d recommend referring to your CV as such whenever applying for roles with UK-based businesses, as resume may be viewed as incorrect parlance. Be sure to explore the SEFE Marketing & Trading blog for more helpful CV writing tips.

When to use a resume

While the term resume is relatively uncommon in the UK jobs market, there are a couple of instances in which you may want to send a resume or at least refer to your CV as such.

Here are a couple of situations when it may be prudent to use a resume:

• If you’re applying for a job with a firm that’s based in the US and follows American parlance

• If the recruiter or hiring manager has asked for a resume

• If the term resume is used in the job description

• If the hiring manager has asked for a short, condensed version of your CV

woman looking at her cv

As we touched on above, a resume shares much of the same content as a standard CV, including a professional summary, professional history and education. However, you should think of a resume as a condensed version of a standard CV, with a shorter personal summary and no professional references. Keep a resume as succinct as possible, sticking to the two-page rule and using a direct, professional tone of voice.

Click here for the latest news and features from SEFE Marketing & Trading or visit our homepage to find out about our latest career opportunities.

The views, opinions and positions expressed within this article are those of our third-party content providers alone and do not represent those of SEFE Marketing & Trading. The accuracy, completeness and validity of any statements made within this article are not guaranteed. SEFE Marketing & Trading accepts no liability for any errors, omissions or representations.