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What is a Resume? What is a CV?

We're sometimes asked the question "What is a resume?" or "What is a CV?" by people just starting out on their careers. Here's the answer if you're one of them -- or just confused by the terms.

What is a Resume or CV?

A CV or resume is basically your 2-page sales brochure. It is a summary of your suitability for a job and you use it to win yourself a job interview.

Although there are variations between types of resume and CV, all include some of the following sections:

  • Personal details
  • Work experience/job history
  • Education
  • Qualifications
  • Skills
  • Achievements
  • Interests
  • References

We use the terms 'CV' and 'resume' interchangeably on our website. This is because, in essence, they are much the same thing.

Some people will tell you that a resume should be shorter than a CV -- perhaps only 1 page compared to 2 for a CV. We (and others) disagree and will tell you that the only difference between a CV and resume is location.

Generally speaking, if you are seeking employment in the United States then the term 'resume' is preferred. The 'CV' (from the Latin 'Curriculum Vitae') is the term used mainly in the United Kingdom and some other European countries.

Always be sure to check the requirements before applying for a job and make sure you use the right term on the document itself and your accompanying cover letter.

Whatever term you use and whatever style of CV or resume you choose, getting this important document right is critical to your job search success. Don't skimp on this task.

Read our 28-page Resumes and CVs Guide and write yourself a resume or CV that wins interviews! There are examples too, so you can see what good resumes and CVs look like.

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