When to Use a Resume or a CV Format


Part of entering the job market is deciding whether you need to use a resume or CV format to outline your qualifications. Both formats have their own uses and features, but each of them can only be applicable to specific applications. So how do you know which to choose from resume or CV format?

Resume versus Curriculum Vitae 

So what’s the main difference between a resume and a CV? Basically, a resume is very straightforward and usually only includes a summary of your skills, education and professional experience. Covering only a page or two, it usually includes information that is relevant to the post you are applying for. Because of this, there is often a need to customize depending on the nature of the industry and the position you are after.

On the other hand, a curriculum vitae is very detailed. The term itself is Latin for “course of life”, which precisely describes what a CV is. It contains all the details of your experiences and education, regardless of the field and industry. It also includes details of awards you have received and affiliations you may have. Of course, there is also a need to update your CV as you also gain more experience in your field of study. And because its entire purpose is to narrate your entire career story, it is only normal for the entire document to reach a few pages. There is no need to customize your CV as you try applying for different posts. You may specify the post you are applying for and highlight the skills that are relevant by attaching a cover letter to it.

Deciding Whether to Use a Resume or a CV When to Use a Resume or CV Format

The decision on whether to use a resume or CV format would depend on different conditions. Sometimes, your location would matter. In the US for example, resumes are often preferred, while employers in Europe, Asia or the Middle East are used to receiving CV’s. Applying for a research-oriented position or an academic one would also require a curriculum vitae, as it is always necessary in this field to have a full view of your experiences and areas of knowledge and expertise. The same holds true if you are aiming for any grants or fellowships. The format that you use would also depend on the employer sometimes. Some employers prefer one over the other. If it is not specified in the job ad, ask somebody within the company to make sure.

Tips in Creating Your Resume or CV

Regardless of whether you use a resume or a CV, the need to impress will always be there. This is why you should always take extra care in deciding what to write, and how to write it. Here are a few tips you should take note of regardless of whether you decide to submit a resume or CV format:

    • Attach a cover letter and give a brief overview of what you are aiming for. Just remember that your cover letter should not be very long, so try to make it as impressive as possible.
    • Always know the difference between confidence and bragging. In writing details about your achievements, use statements that show how capable you are of getting the job done, but avoid sounding overly impressed by your own achievements.
    • Avoid beating around the bush. This is not a contest of length. Just give brief descriptions and use straightforward sentences.


  • Always double check your resume or CV before submitting it. There is nothing worse than losing the opportunity to grab a job you’ve always wanted just because you failed to notice a typo or two.