When Should You Use a CV?

Your first step is identifying the appropriate application materials the employer, agency, or search committee is seeking. A simple way to do this is to first begin by reviewing the application instructions. On most occasions, an organization will state which document they prefer a candidate to submit. If you have done all possible research and you still cannot determine which document is suitable, then it would be appropriate to contact the organization and ask for clarification.

With that being said, common conventions in the United States and Canada hold that a CV is most commonly utilized within academia, but can also be used within scientific or research industries. It may also be appropriate when applying for scholarships, grants, or graduate school. Many students pursuing careers in these fields get a head start and begin working on their CV as they gain work experience as an undergraduate. If you are applying for jobs internationally, CVs are often the favored application document. In most areas of Europe, employers expect to receive a curriculum vitae across all industries. Keep in mind that the standards for writing a CV depend on location — it is recommended that you review Going Global's Country Guides for résumé and CV guidelines specific to each country.

To access the Going Global Country Guides:

  • Go to DrexelOne
  • Select the Coop+Career Services tab
  • Select the "Going Global" link found in the Career Services channel
  • Select "Country Career Guides" and choose your country of interest
  • Select "Résumé/CV Guidelines"

CV and Résumé Comparison

Comparing your CV to your résumé, you will find parts that are similar while others may be quite different. The table below is a guideline for how CVs and résumés are similar and different.

CV Résumé
Length As long as necessary; two-three pages for recent graduates; 10+ pages for experienced professionals. Almost always one page; two pages on a rare occasion.
Purpose Details broad accomplishments of one's career. Highlights specific skills and strengths targeted to a particular job.
Style Free-form; more in-depth descriptions of accomplishments; may use bullet style for listing experience.
More structured by nature; due to length, very succinct and favors a bullet style for listing experience.
Audience Primarily academic; may also include research and scientific disciplines. Mostly non-academic industries.
Number of Sections Can contain 15 to upwards of 20 sections. Typically under ten basic sections, but could easily be accomplished in as little as four.
Content Comprehensive description of one's professional career. Limited to the skills and experiences necessary for the job.
Listing References More common to list references at the end of a CV, as these names may demonstrate vital information to those within a particular network. Not listed; generally understood that references will be provided if requested.


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