In the United States, resumes are the standard form of documentation to display your professional and educational history. However, in some academic circles and internationally, the curriculum vitae (CV) is the standard for job applications. The objective behind a CV remains the same as the resume, but the appearance of the document is noticeably different, enough so that submitting a resume when a CV is requested can destroy an individual’s chance of being called for an interview.

Resume vs. curriculum vitae

The differences between resume and CV can appear quite subtle at the surface, but prove to be quite deep in the variances of information presented. The resume is made up of three simple sections: name and contact information, education and work experience. Each of these is divided into a section with information listed out, but with significantly more emphasis placed on job history and duties performed in each capacity. The resulting format makes the resume an ideal resource when applying for professional positions in the business sector.

In contrast, the CV acts as more of an overview of your accomplishments in life, especially those most relevant to the world of academia. The curriculum vitae becomes most relevant when pursuing a job in academia or research, as educational achievements become more of a focus over regular job duties. In addition, the CV is to be considered more of a living document in need of constant updating as many academic researchers are often involved in and completing multiple projects and teaching duties concurrently.

Another large difference between resumes and curriculum vitae is simple document length. The standard preferred length of a resume is one page for new professionals and up to three pages for those with extensive experience. The CV is anything but brief, starting at two or three pages for individuals beginning their graduate school career and reaching double digits for more seasoned researchers.

Structure of a curriculum vitae

Much like that of the resume, a CV follows a chronological presentation of information with the most recent of accomplishments placed at the top of each section list. The overall structure of the CV differs drastically from the resume and contains the following information:

Areas of interest. List your various academic interests and areas of intellectual or research-based pursuit.
Education. Provide not only a list of degrees earned or progress made, but also titles of dissertations or theses.
Grants, honors and awards. List all grants received, honors bestowed and awards received through academic studies and research.
Publications and presentations. Establish your academic experience with a list of published articles and books in addition to any public presentations given at conferences.
Employment and experience. Separate work into areas of relevance for teaching, laboratory, field, volunteer, leadership and other research-related experience.
Academic memberships. List all professional organizations you’re a member of or associated with, in addition to positions or offices held at each association.
References. Provide a list of individuals who are willing to write letters of recommendation and include their contact information.
One’s measurement of success in the academic world is dependent on the number of things accomplished while working, whether its research papers or presentations. Demonstrating experience by sharing it through these methods is how academia determines an individual’s overall value for a researching position.

How to write a CV

The standards for writing a curriculum vitae are much the same as with a resume. Picking an easy-to-read font type and size will help maximize the legibility of your document. Maintaining a consistent format throughout will likewise convey a theme of professionalism and attention to detail.

Common practices when writing a resume include job descriptions outlining activities performed at each employer. This information isn’t as necessary on a CV because academic search committees will focus more on education, publications and references. The amount of time spent in a position is still quite important as reviewers will want to gauge your level of experience in comparison to the number of accomplishments you’ve made throughout the rest of the document.


One of the most important things to remember when creating a CV is that there is no one set standard for formatting. Different emphases of academia put more emphasis in different areas, which means taking into account the standard conventions of the job being applied for will drastically help in making a CV stand out. Examples of curriculum vitae can easily be found on major job board websites such as Monster and CareerBuilder.