Resume and CV; Explaining away the Conflict

Resume and CV; Explaining away the Conflict

Have you ever gotten through with a job application and crossed your fingers in anticipation, only to receive a response informing you that you had sent in the wrong document? Perhaps you had sent in a CV when a Resume was required and this left you wondering, what is the difference?

I have met people in similar situations and it is more painful when you lose the job because of that singular act. This article is meant to clarify the confusions that many job seekers have with regards to these two documents as well as show us when each is required and more suitable especially for applications where no specific one is required.

So what are the salient differences between these two and what are their purposes?

  1. The Lengths Differ

The first apparent distinction you would readily find between the documents is that their lengths differ. The reason for this is hidden in plain sight; in their names.

The Resume is derived from the French word, “résumé” which in essence means to “sum up” and in keeping with its name, a Resume is a brief document that summarizes or ‘sums up’ a person’s work history to his future employers. A standard resume should run the length of a page. Only in unavoidable cases should it be allowed to run into pages.

A Curriculum Vitae on the other hand literally translates to “Course of Life” and therefore is a document that goes into far more detail to show your personal details as well as a record of your academic and professional achievements. A CV can run into 4 pages or more,there is no specified maximum length to a CV. The absence of a length limit is not cause to go insane with a 125 page CV. Employers require reasonability in drafting and submitting CV’s.

  1. The Purposes Differ

A Resume is quite brief as we have seen, and the reason is because it is only meant to give the employer a one-glance overview of what the person is capable of doing by showing what the person has done in the past and is doing in the present.

A CV on the other hand is aimed at showing the employer what kind of person the applicant is and this is why it often discloses personal details like voluntary roles the applicant has undertaken, societies they belong to as well as in depth listings of educational background.

  1. The Flexibility Differs

A rule of thumb is to never use the same Resume twice except the jobs applied for are so similar as to require little or no alterations. If the jobs are not as similar, then it is always advised to format your Resume to suit the jobs applied for.

If for instance you are applying for a job as a content writer in a firm, your resume should showcase your writing portfolio and all the people or firms you have written for. Alternatively if you were applying for the position of an editor, you will have to dig up all editorial and quasi-editorial experiences you have had, including editorial trainings undergone and make them central to the resume. Resume’s are very flexible documents and should always change to fit the job applied for.

A CV on the other hand isn’t quite as flexible and for the most part remains the same. One reason for this inflexibility is because a CV is already very comprehensive and there is not much more to add. However, a CV should be updated from time to time as the individual adds more feathers to their cap and adapted to suit different job applications.

Apart from updates on a CV, a CV can also be amended by changing its format. It is advisable that you find out if certain organizations require a CV to come in a specific format and amend your CV to follow that format. An example of such strict formats is the Harvard University format guidelines for people applying to the university.

  1. The Layouts Differ

A standard resume can contain just the following information

  • Contact Information
  • Work History / Experience
  • Education
  • Skills
  • A Resume Summary or Objective (Optional)
  • Hobbies and Interests (Optional)

A Standard CV should contain the Following:


  • Contact Information + Brief Biography
  • Areas of Academic Interest
  • Education + Qualifications
  • Employment History + Achievements and Responsibilities
  • Professional Development Courses + Training
  • Teaching Experience/ Research Experience (if applicable)
  • Graduate Fieldwork (If Applicable)
  • A List of Skills + Technical, Computer, and Language Skills
  • Professional Licenses and Certifications
  • Scholarships, Grants, Fellowships, and Assistantships (Especially when applying for Grants or Scholarships)
  • Study Abroad and International Experiences (When applying for study grants and scholarships)
  • Descriptions of Theses and Dissertations
  • Bibliography + Publications
  • Presentations, Lectures, and Other Public Speaking Engagements
  • Exhibitions
  • Awards and Honors
  • Memberships
  • Interests, and Related Extracurricular Activities
  1. The Usages of The Documents are different

Typically, in countries like America and Canada, Resume’s are used to apply for most jobs, but in Nigeria, a CV is in more conventional use for applications to jobs. If you work remotely then you probably need a resume handy for job applications, because most foreign employees require Resumes. They need you working remotely and therefore do not need to know you, just that you can deliver the required job.

After going through this article, I am sure you would be clarified of any confusions resulting from the extensive differences between these two documents. Typically, in most job applications, they may be used in place of each other, except when one is expressly required.

The key is therefore to pay attention to strict requirements and to deliver accordingly. The strain and stress of job seeking is already enough work and it is always advisable to outsource your stress. Dalton&White is here to render sufficient professional assistance as well as enlightenment in all these areas.

Here is to your success with the search!

~ Ayoola Ajibare


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