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Resume or CV?

Posted on April 6, 2022
Vector image of 4 resumes or CVs, two have an illustrated image with no faces of a woman of color and a white woman

In talking with students as they prepare to enter their career or change jobs because they have earned a new degree, I get asked which is better a short resume or a more comprehensive CV. It is not that simple. First, let’s define each one:

A resume is a short 1-2-page document outlining your qualifications for the position. Some resumes are highly formal, while others (depending on the industry) are a bit more stylistic, but they essentially contain the same information: contact information, education, relevant job experience, and any relevant skills.

A Curriculum Vitae (CV) is a much longer document utilized by academics that provides detailed information about education, teaching and research experience, academic work experience, grants, fellowships, presentations, publications, awards, licenses, industry affiliations, and sometimes a list of references.

So, back to the question – which is best? Again, it is not that simple. Typically, one does not choose one over the other. Most people will use the shorter resume to showcase their work experience and skills. A curriculum vitae (CV) is utilized by individuals applying for teaching or research positions at an academic or research institution. However, if you are applying for a staff position at a college or university with a teaching or research component, let’s say Assistant Director of Research, a CV would likely be your best option.

I have written in the past about the need to tailor your resume to the specific position to ensure you are maximizing the little bit of space you have to showcase your experience and talents. This is also true for a CV, though much longer, and not restricted to a 1-or-2-page limit, you should still tailor your CV, specifically your related academic work experience to the specific position to which you are applying. This means reading through your work experience and removing elements that do not apply to highlight those that do. Now, this does not mean that you should remove everything other than the elements that are relevant to the new position, but you should remove some elements that were/are not as central to your position and that do not apply to the new position. The goal is to maximize the space and time. I say time because hiring managers who receive CVs expect to take more time than those who are scanning resumes, but that doesn’t mean you should be sending a 40-page CV filled with every task you ever completed in every position you’ve ever held. And for those who have a long list of publications, you likely do not need to include everyone, include those that are relevant. There are other options for housing all of that information such as Interfolio.

How do you know whether the hiring manager is seeking a resume or a CV when applying to an academic or research institution? If it is unclear in the specific job notice, then reach out to the HR department or hiring manager (if listed) and ask.

Regardless of which format you use, take the time to ensure you have utilized the space well, you have edited it and checked it and re-checked it for typos and missing words, etc. The best approach is to leave yourself time to walk away and read it over after a break or ask a trusted friend to read it though for mistakes, fluency, flow, etc.

Finally, when you submit your resume or CV, use only a recent version of Microsoft Word. Please do not use some other word processing software/platform with an odd extension that may not be compatible with the hiring manager’s computing capabilities. I also recommend you save it, unless otherwise instructed, with your last name and the position, i.e. Smith_Asst Dir. Then submit both a PDF and .doc version. Keep in mind when sending only a .doc version, the formatting may get messed up. But if you only send only a PDF version, for some people it is challenging to view or open the PDFs. You do not want to create roadblocks for a hiring manager or give them a reason to move onto the next candidate. If, however, you only have the option and clear guidelines are not provided, then upload a PDF. Overall, you want to make viewing your credentials as easy as possible for the hiring manager or search committee.

Best of luck in your job search!


Anne Converse Willkomm
Assistant Dean, Graduate College
Assistant Clinical Professor, Goodwin College
Drexel University
Posted in professional-development-career-tips