I used to wonder what the difference is between a curriculum vita and a resume (aside from length). I mean, when do we use which? Where did these two kinds of document, very important documents, came from? How are these two used around the globe? I figured it out.

In the United Kingdom, curriculum vitae are widely used. In the United States and also here in the Philippines, the resume if the preferred one. Interestingly, in Australia, they commonly use both documents when applying for a job! Just to note, in the academia, the CV is the more preferred document of the two.

In this article, I’ll share with you the difference between the two and when to use which.

Curriculum Vitae

A curriculum vita (plural: curriculum vitae) or CV is an in-depth document detailing your life’s accomplishments. As a matter of fact, the word “curriculum vitae”is a Latin phrase for “course of life”. So, yeah, it’s a detailed overview of your life.

A CV is usually organised chronologically. It is more static than a resume as CVs need not be changed according to every employment opportunity you are applying to (in this instance, the cover letter does the job of curating your personal brand according to the position you are applying to).

A typical CV contains the following information.

  • Name and Contact Information: contact information for your current institution or place of employment may work best, unless you do not want your colleagues to know that you are job-hunting;
  • Areas of Interest: a listing of your varied academic interests;
  • Education: a list of your degrees earned or in progress, institutions, and years of graduation. You may also include the titles of your dissertation or thesis here;
  • Grants, Honors, and Awards: a list of grants received, honors bestowed upon you for your work, and awards you may have received for teaching or service;
  • Publications and Presentations: a list of your published articles and books, as well presentations given at conferences. If there are many of both, you might consider having one section for publications and another for presentations;
  • Employment and Experience: this section may include separate lists of teaching experiences, laboratory experiences, field experiences, volunteer work, leadership, or other relevant experiences;
  • Scholarly or Professional Memberships: a listing of the professional organizations of which you are a member. If you have held an office or position in a particular organization, you can either say so here or leave this information for the experience section; and
  • References: a list of persons who write letters of recommendations for you, which includes their contact information.



A resume, or résumé, is a general and concise introduction of your experiences and skills as they relate to a particular career or position you are aiming to acquire. As such, resumes are short and highly customizable. They can be altered for each position that you are applying for so as to emphasize your those skills and experiences most relevant to the work. The primary goal of a resume during the application process is to make an individual stand out from the competition.

A typical resume will include the following information:

  • Name and Contact Information: your residential address might be most appropriate, especially if you do not want your current employer to know that you are looking for another job;
  • Education: a listing of your degrees or certifications and educational institutions or programs; and
  • Work Experience: names of the companies or organizations that you have worked for, the location of each company, the dates worked, your job title, and duties performed.

Unlike curriculum vitae, resumes need not be organised chronologically.

Topping it all, curriculum vitae are longer, and cover an individual’s entire career. While it must be updated occasionally, a CV is generally a static document. Resumes, on the other hand, are shorter, and follows no particular format. Resumes are highly customisable.

Take Home Message

Resume or CV? When do you use which and where?

Remember that a resume is the preferred application document in the United States, Canada, and also here in the Philippines. We only use CV, as I’ve mentioned, when applying for academic or research-oriented positions.

In the United Kingdom, Ireland and New Zealand, however, CVs are used in all contexts (resumes aren’t used at all). As a matter of fact, the EU has a European Union CV format available for download.

In Australia, India, and South Africa, the terms”resume” and “CV” are used interchangeably. Generally, resumes are used more for jobs in the private sector and CV is more commonplace when applying for public service positions.

Note: If you are a Filipino trying to seek employment in Europe, use the document they prefer – the CV.