My account

You control your data

We use cookies to tailor the experience of creating resumes and cover letters. For these reasons, we may share your usage data with third parties. You can find more information about how we use cookies on our Cookies Policy. If you would like to set your cookies preferences, click the Settings button below. To accept all cookies, click Accept.

Settings Accept

Cookie settings

Click on the types of cookies below to learn more about them and customize your experience on our Site. You may freely give, refuse or withdraw your consent. Keep in mind that disabling cookies may affect your experience on the Site. For more information, please visit our Cookies Policy and Privacy Policy.

Choose type of cookies to accept


These cookies allow us to analyze our performance to offer you a better experience of creating resumes and cover letters. Analytics related cookies used on our Site are not used by Us for the purpose of identifying who you are or to send you targeted advertising. For example, we may use cookies/tracking technologies for analytics related purposes to determine the number of visitors to our Site, identify how visitors move around the Site and, in particular, which pages they visit. This allows us to improve our Site and our services.

Performance and Personalisation

These cookies give you access to a customized experience of our products. Personalization cookies are also used to deliver content, including ads, relevant to your interests on our Site and third-party sites based on how you interact with our advertisements or content as well as track the content you access (including video viewing). We may also collect password information from you when you log in, as well as computer and/or connection information. During some visits, we may use software tools to measure and collect session information, including page response times, download errors, time spent on certain pages and page interaction information.


These cookies are placed by third-party companies to deliver targeted content based on relevant topics that are of interest to you. And allow you to better interact with social media platforms such as Facebook.


These cookies are essential for the Site’s performance and for you to be able to use its features. For example, essential cookies include: cookies dropped to provide the service, maintain your account, provide builder access, payment pages, create IDs for your documents and store your consents.

To see a detailed list of cookies, click here.

Save preferences

What is a Curriculum Vitae (CV)? Definition, Meaning & Purpose

To land that dream job, you must submit the right recruitment documents. So, if the employer requires a CV rather than a resume, you’d better make sure you know what a CV is.

Maciej Duszyński, CPRW
Career Expert
What is a Curriculum Vitae (CV)? Definition, Meaning & Purpose

There are three recruitment documents every job seeker should be familiar with:


A resume, a cover letter, and a CV.


While the first two are rather well known to most, the last one tends to be confusing. All the more so as it refers to something different in various countries.


Not to worry.


We’ll show you exactly what a CV is.


In this guide you’ll learn:


  • A comprehensive CV definition.
  • What a CV means in the US and elsewhere.
  • How a CV differs from a resume.


Create my CV now


CREATE YOUR CV NOW what is cv example

 Create a job-winning resume with little effort. Hack your way through ATS software with our 18 beautiful templates—give our builder a try!

Are you looking for some CV/resume examples? See:


Haven't found what you're looking for? Check all our Resume Samples to Land any Job.


1. What is a CV in the US?


Here’s a curriculum vitae definition:


The “CV” abbreviation stands for curriculum vitae which means “course of life” in Latin. In the US and Canada, a CV refers to a recruitment document detailing your academic and employment history, along with your skills and achievements.


In contrast to resumes, CVs can be very extensive and include detailed lists of your academic awards, grants, scholarships, publications, research projects, or coursework.


This is why a CV is a standard document when you’re pursuing a career in academia. Not so much so when seeking employment in a non-academic role.


A typical CV form can consist of such sections as:

  • Contact Information
  • Research Objective or Personal Profile
  • Education
  • Employment History
  • Publications
  • Awards and Honors
  • Grants and Fellowships
  • Conferences
  • Research Experience
  • References


If you’re looking for more detailed information, as well as CV examples and templates, head straight to our guide on how to make a US curriculum vitae for academic positions.


The ResumeLab builder is more than looks. Get specific content to boost your chances of getting the job. Add job descriptions, bullet points, and skills. Easy. Improve your CV in our CV builder now.




CREATE YOUR CV NOWcreate your cv now

Nail it all with a splash of color, choose a clean font, and highlight your skills in just a few clicks. You're the perfect candidate, and we'll prove it. Use our CV maker now.


2. What is a CV in Europe and Elsewhere?


Here’s the thing—


The definition of a CV differs depending on geography.


As we’ve already established, in the US and Canada a CV means a recruitment document you’d normally use when applying for academic positions as well as grants, fellowships or scholarships.


The situation looks different in Europe and New Zealand, though.


In these regions, a curriculum vitae, or CV, refers to a document that’s very much like an American resume.


In other words:


In Europe and New Zealand, a CV is a document that briefly outlines your work experience, skills, education, and professional achievements, and you use it to apply for regular positions. 


So even though in these countries the word “resume” isn’t used at all—


A United Kingdom curriculum vitae will be very much like an American resume, both in terms of its function and form.


In fact—


You can learn the ins and outs of writing a job-winning CV from our dedicated guide.


In other anglophone countries such as South Africa and Australia, both terms CV and resume are used interchangeably to refer to a document similar to a US resume.

Expert Hint: Check out our collection of CV writing guides for 50+ professions. Each guide comes with a CV example and template you can copy and adjust for your needs. 

3. What Is the Difference Between a CV and Resume?


Now, let’s go back to the US and have a look at how to distinguish a CV from a resume, and how not to confuse either with a cover letter:





Cover Letter


Usually 1-2 pages

No limits

1 page, 4 paragraphs, up to 350 words


Experience and skills

Education and academic achievements

Motivation behind applying for the post


Standard, non-academic positions

Academic positions, grants, fellowships, research programs, etc.

Complementary to a resume


Shows relevant experience that proves you fit the role

Offers a detailed account of your academic career

Introduces you to the recruiter, offers the whys and wherefores of your application


Bullet points arranged in sections

Paragraphs grouped in sections

Coherent and cohesive paragraphs, a letter format

As you can see, the CV and resume aren’t the same, and they also differ from a cover letter.


However, the table above only highlights the most prominent aspects of the three recruitment documents.


If you wish to learn more about the CV vs. resume difference, we have a separate in-depth guide explaining each and every discrepancy.


If you decide you don’t need a CV as much as a resume, you can head straight to our guide on how to write a job-winning resume


And obviously—


To give your career a serious boost and improve your chances of landing a job, learn how to write a cover letter that impresses recruiters.


Double your impact with a matching CV and cover letter combo. Use our cover letter generator and make your application documents pop out.




CREATE YOUR COVER LETTER NOWcreate your cover letter now

Want to try a different look? There’s 18 more. A single click will give your document a total makeover. Pick a cover letter template here.


Key Points


Here’s all you need to know about what a CV is:

  • In the US and Canada, the term CV refers to a recruitment document that details your career with a strong focus on education. It’s used for applying for academic positions.
  • In Europe and New Zealand, a CV is synonymous with a US resume. It refers to a brief document summarizing your relevant professional experience and skills.
  • In Australia and South Africa, both terms resume and CV are part of the vocabulary and each refers to a document resembling an American resume.
  • An American CV differs from a resume in many aspects: length, focus, or purpose to name but a few.


Do you have any other questions about what a CV is? Would you like to share your opinion on the subject? We’re always happy to hear from you. Give us a shout out in the comments below!

Rate my article: what is
Thank you for voting
Average: 5 (7 votes)
Maciej Duszyński, CPRW
Maciej Duszynski is a career advice writer and a resume expert at ResumeLab. With over 8 years of experience in recruitment, hiring, and training, Maciej shares insider HR knowledge to equip every job seeker with professional advice to nail the job hunt. His insights have been featured by the Chicago Tribune, SparkPeople, Toggl, Referral Rock, and Databox, among others. Maciej has helped job candidates at all stages of their career paths, from interns to directors to C-suite members, to thrive in their job. His mission is to help you find the right opportunity and create a job application that gets you the career you deserve. Maciej holds a Master’s degree in English with a specialization in communication and education management.

Was it interesting? Here are similar articles

Your Ultimate Guide to the Best Resume Formats

Your Ultimate Guide to the Best Resume Formats

Want to choose the best resume format? First, you must understand the differences between the three main types. See examples of various resume formats and make an informed choice.

Michael Tomaszewski, CPRW
Michael Tomaszewski, CPRW
Career Expert
Internship Resume Example & Best Format in 2023 (+ Tips)

Internship Resume Example & Best Format in 2023 (+ Tips)

Wondering how to put your college experience on a resume for an internship? Read our guide and see proven internship resume examples that will show you how to do it like a pro.

Tom Gerencer, CPRW
Tom Gerencer, CPRW
Career Writer at ResumeLab