Résumé and CV are terms whose meaning changes depending on location. This can be confusing to professionals and we would love to try to provide some clarity by adopting a global perspective.
Firstly, the root of the term CV is the Latin Curriculum Vitae, which means course of life, while résumé is a French word meaning summary. Both terms are used to describe a document that includes information on one’s professional and educational background, as well as key skills, which are used to apply to a vacancy in the industry or academia. However, there are differences too.
In the US and CA, résumé is a term used to describe a document whose purpose is to apply to a job in the industry. This document is 1 – 2 pages long (usually 1 page) and should be laser-focused on the target job including only relevant information regarding the candidate’s background and key skills. The emphasis is on the candidate’s industry experience and education is addressed briefly.
Contrary, a CV is a document that is used to apply for a position in academia. The length of the document depends on the applicant’s background, but typically a CV should be longer than 2 pages even for entry-level roles. The focus is on the candidate’s background and key skills, but from an academic perspective. Research, teaching, and education are analyzed in detail, while industry experience is considered irrelevant in most cases.
Europeans don’t use the term résumé. The term CV is used to describe the documents created to apply for roles in the industry and the ones used for applications in academia. Nevertheless, a CV targeted to a business is different from one targeted to an academic institution.
CVs targeted to the industry are 1 – 2 pages long. While North American résumés should be one-pagers if possible, European CVs are usually two pages long if the candidate has extensive relevant professional experience. Having said that, it is always beneficial to create a concise and succinct document regardless of one’s location.
Industry CVs focus on the applicant’s professional background and skills, and education is addressed as a summary. On the other hand, academic CVs are longer than 2 pages. The emphasis is on the academic background and credentials of the applicant, while industry experience should be disregarded unless it is relevant to the post.
Australians tend to use the term résumé to describe a document whose purpose is to apply for a job in the industry. While a résumé should always be to the point, Australian resumes are a bit more detailed than in other geographies and can be up to 3 pages long. Like in previously addressed geographies, a résumé focuses on experience relevant to the industry and most of the information included is related to the applicant’s responsibilities, achievements, and skills.
However, some professionals in Australia may also use the term CV to describe the above document. Nevertheless, the term CV is mainly used to describe a document that is used to apply for a position in academia. Like in Europe and North America, documents targeted to academic posts are lengthier, as the teaching and research experience and the education of the candidate are analyzed in more detail.
Rest of World
In South America, it is common to use the term résumé for a document created to showcase the applicant’s professional experience, achievements, and key skills for an application to a vacancy in the industry. On the other hand, a CV is typically used for describing a document created to demonstrate the academic achievements of a candidate to apply to a position in academia. However, South Americans may use the terms résumé and CV interchangeably.
Asians usually use the European terminology. The term CV is used for both the industry and academia while the term résumé is rarely used. A document targeting the industry is around 1 – 2 pages long focusing on professional experience, while documents whose purpose are to support an application to academia focus on teaching and research and are longer. However, Asians may sometimes use the terms résumé and CV interchangeably.
In Africa, the terms CV and résumé are usually used interchangeably. When this happens, both terms refer to documents created to support an application for a job. However, in some cases such as South Africa, most professionals follow the European terminology.