5 Key Differences Between The Resume And A CV Every Applicant Must Know

So here is the dilemma; you just came across two great job opportunities with companies of your dream that you could not just wait to apply. You then quickly glance through the job details down to the “Method of Application” section, only to discover that while Company A is requesting you submit a Curriculum Vitae, Company B is asking you to submit a Resume, and you are now asking; “what is the difference between a Curriculum Vitae (CV) and the Resume”? Well, in this article, I will try to pinpoint 5 key differences between the Resume and a CV.

Meanwhile, before I jump on the 5 key differences between the Resume and a CV, I would want to digress on the scenario above a little. From my experiences as a writer on CareerportalNg for the past few months, I have seen how impatient and less attention-to-details some applicants can be.

Thanks to applicants in the category above, who are even attentive enough to see that varying documents were required in the two positions, and would even pause to ask the difference between the CV and a Resume.

Unlike some other applicants, they forward whatever they feels right to the employer without even considering what the employer wants. If you are in this category of applicants, I’ll recommend you change your approach to job applications, because your chances of being invited to the interview would be very slim.

The Curriculum Vitae is not same as the Resume, neither can one be used in place of the other, especially when the employer is specific enough to state what you should submit. So haven said that, what are the key differences between the CV and a Resume when tendering a job application?

Curriculum Vitae (CV):

Curriculum Vitae is a Latin word which means “course of life”. By that, it means the CV is more of an in-depth profile of the applicant. It contains a high level of detail about the applicant’s achievements, educational and career biography detailed into two (2) or more pages.

By “Course of Life”, it means any HR personnel who picks up the CV, should be able to know the professional background of the applicant(s), even without meeting them in person. But this is not the case with the Resume.


The resume in the Cambridge Dictionary is defined as a short statement of the important details of something, usually not more than one page. It should be a short written description of your education, qualifications, previous jobs experience(s) specific to the position you are applying for.

You don’t need all your previous work or even educational experiences when applying for some job vacancies. The Resume allows you to streamline your achievements to the position requirements.

5 Key Differences Between the Resume and a CV

The five major differences between the Curriculum Vitae (CV) and a Resume are:

The Length

As stated in our definition, the Curriculum Vitae (CV) is the applicants Course of Life and as a result, is more longer and more detailed than the Resume. While the Resume should be within a page, the CV can span between two or even more pages. Some NGOs will request you to submit a maximum of 3-paged CV when applying for openings in their organizations.

For such NGOs, applicants submitting a resume instead, get their documents screened out even before CV review. This could account for the reasons why most applicants never get invited for interviews even though they have the best matching qualification and experience for the position: WRONG DOCUMENT SUBMISSION, and as a result the employer was not even able to see those qualifications and experiences.

The Purpose

By purpose, I’m not talking about the purpose why you are applying for the job, we all know it so you could get employed. I’m talking about the purpose why the employer would request you to submit one document instead of the other. I mean, why would one company be requesting your ‘brief and important’ info (Resume), while another company would be asking for a 3-page CV?

It not every employer that have the time to read all your profiles. Another thing is while some Companies makes use of Application Tracking System (ATS), other companies don’t. So HR officers that just want to see what makes you standout for a position in their organization straight ahead, will toss your application into the Bin if he asks for a Raspberry and you ended up giving him a Cranberry, or vise versa (I’m sure you know what I mean)

The Layout

Being a “Course of Life”, the Curriculum Vitae follows a more Chronological Order than the Resume. The CV tends to list all professional achievements of the applicants irrespective of the position applied for.

Any other filter the applicants wishes to add in order to capture the attention of the employer, is done in the Cover Letter. It is in the Cover letter you draw the attention of the recruiter to those specific qualifications and achievements that are directly related to the position applied for.

This is not the case with the Resume. Everything in the resume are meant to be important and related to the position applied for. As mentioned earlier, it not all qualifications and experiences that should be included in your resume.

I heard of a Graduate who lost a fantastic opportunity with a major company in Nigeria, because he told them during the interview that he was previously a Security Operative. I’m sure you wouldn’t want this to happen to you right?

The Flexibility and Rigidity

This point is highly connected to the preceding point. Because of the fact that your Resume should be position-specific, it tends to be more flexible than the CV. For example, it is recommended that a graduate of Business Administration with a Certificate in Accountancy (e.g ICAN) and a certificate in Criminology, should ignore his Criminology Cert. when applying for a position of accountancy with a non-financial organization, especially if asked to submit a resume, making the content of the resume to vary per position.

This is entirely not the case with a Curriculum Vitae. The CV is mostly rigid and not changing for a longer period of time, encompassing the applicants whole professional biography until new achievement or qualification is added. What normally changes when applying for jobs is the Cover Letter.

The Location of Use

Sometime, employer might not be specific on what document applicants must submit. In this rare case, applicants can only look into the location/background of the said organization in order to submit the documents acceptable in that region or location.

In Nigeria and most African countries and even most countries of the world, a Curriculum Vitae is generally accepted. Infact, it only in the United State and Canada, a Resume is highly preferred over the Curriculum Vitae. In US, an applicant will use a CV only when applying for a Research or Academic related jobs, or when applying to jobs abroad.


Back to my first and second paragraphs above; while it is important to get your application over to the employer as soon as a position becomes available in their organization, your haste will be pointless if you succeeded only in submitting the wrong documents.

The only opportunity you have to advertise yourself to the employer is via your Resume or Curriculum Vitae as the case may be. But the employer is only able to see all your self-adverts when he’s able to read through your documents, not when your documents get screened out for being wrong documents.

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