CV vs Resume: Everything You Need to Know in 2023

Are you confused about whether you need a CV or resume for your next job application? While both documents summarize your professional experience, the two aren‘t always interchangeable. Knowing the differences and when to use which document is crucial for job search success.

In this guide, we dive deep into everything you need to know about CVs and resumes, including:

  • Definitions and common sections to include
  • Key differences and a comparison table
  • When to use each document by country, industry and career stage
  • Expert tips for writing compelling CVs and resumes
  • The latest trends and statistics for 2023
  • Detailed examples of effective CVs and resumes

Armed with this knowledge, you can create application materials that grab a hiring manager‘s attention and help you land your dream job. Let‘s get started!

What is a CV?

CV stands for "curriculum vitae," Latin for "course of life." It provides a comprehensive overview of your full academic and professional history. According to a 2020 Jobvite survey, after LinkedIn, CVs are the resource most used by recruiters to evaluate candidates.

A CV should include the following sections:

  1. Contact Information
  2. Research Objective or Personal Profile
  3. Education
  4. Professional Appointments
  5. Research Experience
  6. Teaching Experience
  7. Publications
  8. Grants, Honors and Awards
  9. Professional Affiliations
  10. Skills and Certifications

Depending on your field, you may also include sections like Research Interests, Invited Talks, Media Appearances, and References.

Here‘s an example of how some of these CV sections might look:

Research Experience

  • Postdoctoral Fellow, [Lab Name], [University] (2019-2022)
    • Spearheaded research on X resulting in Y
    • Published 3 papers in high-impact journals
  • Graduate Researcher, [Lab Name], [University] (2014-2019)
    • Conducted independent research on X
    • Collaborated on X grant-funded projects


  • Doe, J., Smith, A. "Groundbreaking Study on X." Journal of Research, vol. 2, no. 15, 2022, pp. 54-63.
  • Doe, J., James, P., Lee, K. "Novel Findings in Z." Scientific Reports, vol. 6, no. 3, 2021, pp.76-85.

Since CVs cover your full history, they often span 3-5 pages or more. The average length of a CV is 4 pages for mid-career professionals and 5-6 pages for senior-level applicants, based on a 2018 survey of over 1,000 hiring managers.

What is a resume?

A resume is a concise summary of your professional experience, skills and achievements as they relate to a specific position. Its purpose is to quickly convince employers that you‘re qualified for the role.

On average, recruiters look at resumes for just 6-7 seconds before deciding whether a candidate is a good fit, according to 2018 eye-tracking research. So it‘s important to immediately grab their attention.

An effective resume should include:

  1. Contact information
  2. Compelling professional summary
  3. Relevant work experience
  4. Education
  5. Key skills (tailored to the job)

You may also choose to include optional sections like Volunteer Experience, Professional Affiliations, Certifications, and Interests.

Here‘s how some resume sections might look:

Professional Summary
Results-driven software engineer with 5+ years experience developing e-commerce applications. Skilled in Agile methodologies, microservices architecture, and CI/CD. Seeking opportunity to lead development projects and mentor junior engineers.

Professional Experience

  • Senior Software Engineer, [Company] (2018-2022)
    • Led Agile development of new shopping cart microservice, increasing checkout speed by 30%
    • Mentored team of 5 junior developers
  • Software Engineer II, [Company] (2016-2018)
    • Developed Python scripts to automate deployments, saving 5 engineering hours per week
    • Built REST APIs to support integration with Salesforce CRM

Since resumes should be tailored to a specific job, they are much shorter than CVs. A resume should be 1-2 pages, with 66% of employers preferring 2-page resumes, per that same 2018 Ladders study.

CV vs resume: key differences

While there is some overlap in content, CVs and resumes serve different purposes and have distinct differences. Here‘s a quick comparison:

CV Resume
Length 3-5+ pages 1-2 pages
Purpose Overview of full academic & professional history Snapshot of relevant skills & experience for a job
Content Comprehensive: education, research, publications, teaching, awards, affiliations Targeted: professional summary, work history, education, skills
Customization Remains mostly the same, updated over time Tailored for each position
Format Chronological (newest to oldest) Chronological, functional or combination
Geographic use Europe, Asia, Middle East;
U.S. for academia & research
U.S. & Canada for most industries

Fundamentally, a CV showcases your full credentials while a resume convinces employers you‘re the best fit for a specific job opening.

When to use a CV or resume

Choosing the right document comes down to employer expectations, which can vary by country, industry, and job level.

By country

  • In the U.S. and Canada, resumes are the default for most non-academic jobs
  • CVs are standard for academic and research positions in North America
  • For all jobs outside the U.S. – in Europe, Ireland, New Zealand, Africa, Asia, and the Middle East – use a CV

By industry

  • Academia and research – use a CV
  • Scientific and medical fields – use a CV
  • All other industries – default to a resume unless CV is requested

By career stage

  • Current undergrad/grad students, recent grads – use a resume
  • Experienced professionals, senior executives – use a resume (unless in academia/research)
  • Academic/research job candidates (at all levels) – use a CV

If the job listing doesn‘t specify, default to the typical document used in your country and industry. You can also reach out to the recruiter to clarify expectations.

CV and resume tips from the experts

Ready to create a stellar CV or resume? Follow these tips from career experts and hiring managers.

CV writing tips

  1. Organize your CV into clear sections with bold headings
  2. When describing your research experience, include specifics like project goals, your role, techniques used, and outcomes
  3. Provide DOI links to your full published articles
  4. Quantify your accomplishments, e.g. "Received $500K NIH grant" or "Taught 75 students per semester"
  5. Keep font type and sizes consistent throughout
  6. Get feedback from colleagues or a career advisor in your field
  7. Carefully proofread for grammar and spelling errors
  8. Submit as a PDF unless otherwise specified

Resume writing tips

  1. Tailor your professional summary, work history and skills to the job description
  2. Lead with a clear, concise, compelling professional summary
  3. Quantify your impact with numbers, data and metrics
  4. Use strong action verbs like "spearheaded," "optimized" and "delivered"
  5. Keep your formatting clean with clear sections and bullet points
  6. Edit down your content to what‘s most relevant (don‘t exceed 2 pages)
  7. Double check for typos, inconsistencies and confusing phrasing
  8. If you‘re unsure, have someone else proofread it
  9. Save as a PDF to prevent formatting issues

Whether writing a CV or resume, always focus on readability, relevance to the job/field, and demonstrating your unique value. Strong, error-free application documents are essential for landing interviews.

CV and resume trends & stats for 2023

Finally, let‘s cover some of the latest hiring trends and statistics that may impact your CV or resume in 2023 and beyond:

  • Increased use of applicant tracking systems (ATS) – 75% of resumes are never seen by a human because they are filtered out by ATS algorithms (Jobscan, 2019). Optimize your resume by incorporating relevant keywords.

  • Skills-based hiring on the rise – 87% of employers are moving to skills-based hiring (SHRM, 2022). Emphasize your top skills on your resume and back them up with examples.

  • Video resumes becoming more popular – 89% of employers would watch a video resume if submitted (Vault, 2021). Consider supplementing your traditional resume with a short video.

  • Employers still expect cover letters – 74% of recruiters want to see a cover letter, even if they don‘t require it (ResumeLab, 2020). Writing customized cover letters shows extra effort.

  • Importance of personal websites/portfolios – 71% of employers say a personal website/portfolio helps candidates stand out (Workfolio, 2019). An online portfolio can provide deeper context beyond your resume.

While preferences vary, these statistics highlight some broader shifts in hiring that are important to consider. At the same time, a well-written, tailored CV or resume is still the foundation of any successful job search.

Putting it all together

By now, you should have a clear grasp of what a CV and resume are, how they‘re different, and when to use each one. You‘re armed with expert tips and insights into the latest hiring trends.

As you can see, there‘s no one-size-fits-all approach to CVs and resumes. The right document depends on your location, industry, career stage and the employer‘s expectations.

Regardless of whether you‘re submitting a CV or resume, focus on convincing the employer that you‘re the best candidate. Incorporate strong, specific accomplishment statements. Quantify your successes. Tailor your skills and experience to the job. Use clear formatting and headers. Proofread everything.

With a stellar CV or resume in hand, you‘ll be well on your way to impressing hiring managers and landing interviews. Use this guide as your go-to resource for creating winning application materials that showcase your unique value and help you get hired.