This page will show you the differences between resumes and Curriculum Vitaes (CVs) and will give you tips for writing each.
Resumes and CVs are both documents you use to apply for a job to show that you are good for a position.
- Highlight what you can offer to the position (experience, education, skills)
- Lead with strengths
- Include relevant information
- Use reverse chronological order (most recent to least recent down the page)
- Are tailored to the position
- Do not include personal information
- Contain no grammar or spelling errors
- Have clean, consistent formatting and are easy to read
A brief summary focused on skills and qualification specific for the job. It is quick, direct, and to the point.
Audience: employer looking to hire for a specific job
Purpose: to apply for a job in most sectors outside of the academic world
Focus: to represent your skills and accomplishments, as they relate to a job
Structure: summarizes key information and starts with most relevant experience
Always include: skills and experience related to the job
Length: no longer than 2 pages
Customization: heavily tailored specifically to each job
Development over time: constantly reworked to reflect up-to- date experiences relevant to the job
A history of your education and achievements (usually, you don’t remove much information, only add). It is thorough, summarizes all relevant experiences, and usually focuses on education, research, teaching, and service.
Audience: academics in your field of study and academic hiring committees
Purpose: to apply for a job in an academic, research, or (sometimes) specialized field
Focus: to represent your academic achievements and scholarly potential
Structure: provides details about education and employment experiences and accomplishments; generally starts with education
Always include: education, relevant teaching/research experiences, references
Length: as long as you need it to be, within reason
Customization: is somewhat tailored, but generally a comprehensive record
Development over time: constantly added to in order to reflect one’s growing body of accomplishments.
If you are applying to non-academic jobs or if the job does not specify, use a resume. For most jobs, you will use a resume.
You may need a CV if you are applying for:
- Graduate school admission
- Research and consulting positions
- Fellowships, grants, and bursaries
- International jobs
- Teaching, research, and some administrative positions in post-secondary education
- Positions within professional associations
- Speaking engagements
- Publishing contracts
- Positions on various review boards
- Independent professional consulting
- Departmental and tenure reviews within academia
Not sure to use a resume or a CV? Consider the following questions:
Does the position specifically ask for a resume or a CV?
Employers will almost always specify if they want a CV. If they don't specify, you generally will use a resume.
Are you applying inside of Quebec or outside of Canada?
Call and clarify what type of CV they want. In Quebec and different countries, they sometimes use the terms CV and resume interchangeably or they may call resumes CVs. Generally, in the rest of Canada and most of the US, CVs and resumes are different.
Is it a non-academic job outside of a post-secondary institution?
You likely will need a resume, unless it is a research-intensive position. Even then, however, the employer will likely specify if they want a CV.
Is the position at an academic institution?
If it is an academic type of job (involved with teaching, learning, or research), you likely will need a CV.
Are you applying to graduate school?
You will need a CV.
If you are still unsure, call and clarify! Employers will not mind answering your questions. It is always best to connect with an employer ahead of time to ask questions about an application rather than have your application disregarded because it does not meet the employer's expectations.
What is a CV?
Curriculum Vitae is Latin for “course of life". This describes nicely what a CV is. It is a document that explains that course of your career, as related to the position, and is a highly detailed, lengthier variety of resume. A CV is intended to present your entire body of work to date.
Note that if you have only completed an undergraduate degree but are required to submit a CV, the document you compose will likely be more of a hybrid between a CV and a resume. In this case, pay close attention to any guidelines provided by the organization or program to which you are applying.
When you are writing your CV, something you should keep in mind while determining what to include is,"Does this CV communicate my ability to contribute to my field?" A CV should communicate to your hiring committee that you will represent the institution well by producing well-educated students and meaningful research, thus, contributing to your field. Try to frame your experience and accomplishments in a way that will convey this idea.
Commonly used headings:
- Contact Information
- Academic Information/Education
- Academic Honours and Awards
- Research Interests
- Research Experience
- Teaching Experience
- Professional Experience
- Academic and Administrative Experience
- Academic Associations/Affiliations
- Publications and Papers
- Conference Papers
- Professional Memberships
- Relevant Courses
- Community Involvement
- Consulting Work
- Departmental and University Committees and Boards
- Grants Secured
- Public and Community Contributions
- Patents Granted and Pending
- Poster Presentations
- Professional Licences/Certifications
Your resume is a quick, clear, to-the-point document that tells employers exactly why you would be a good fit for a specific position. It should communicate that you have the skills and knowledge relevant to the position.
Sometimes, graduate students write resumes that read more like CVs, which could potentially get their resumes ignored. Try to avoid the following common mistakes:
- Unless relevant, avoid describing your research in detail. Avoid including detailed research methods and tools that are irrelevant to the position to which you are applying.
- Don't automatically leave off all non-academic work, thinking it is not relevant. While some experiences may not be relevant, depending on your amount of experience and the job to which you are applying, it may be worth including some seemingly irrelevant non-academic positions under an "Additional experience" heading so employers can see you have worked outside of academia. If expanding on these positions, focus on the soft skills you gained.
- Avoid using academic jargon or language that is not clear to the employers. Keep your language as clear as possible.
- You normally will not want to list all of your publications. This takes up a lot of space on a resume (which should be under 2 pages) and usually is not as relevant. If you want to highlight your written communication skills in this manner, it may be more appropriate to list the number of publications you have and refer the reader to your LinkedIn page for a full list.
Potential Resume Headings
- Header/contact information
- Profile of skills/summary of qualifications/highlights
- Related/technical skills
- Experience (work, volunteer, etc., with the most relevant first)
- Additional experience (for experience that is not as relevant)
- Scholarships and awards
- Professional development
- Relevant academic projects
- Management experience (don't forget your project management skills you gained during your thesis!)
- References available upon request (note that unlike a CV, you do not list your references on a resume)
For more information, ask for our Resume Writing tip sheet or see a career advisor.
See mySuccess for a number of resume templates and tip sheets.