CVs Versus Resumes, Plus a “New” Thing to Consider

If you’ve ever wondered about the differences between CVs and resumes, you’re not alone. Here are the basics, along with links to more information and a few words on something you need to keep in mind when working with either one.

cvs versus resumes



  • from the Latin for “course of life”
  • more common outside the U.S. and Canada, except in cases of medicine, law, academia, science, research, etc.
  • heavy focus on chronology and education
  • generally between two and four pages long
  • often includes personal information not appropriate on resumes
  • uses personal pronouns and adjectives such as “I” and “my”


  • from the French word, résumé, meaning “summary”
  • more common in the U.S. and Canada
  • generally between one and two pages long
  • has more formatting flexibility
  • is written in third person to create a businesslike tone and sense of objectivity

For more on the differences between CVs and resumes, read this article from our archives, and this article from UndercoverRecruiter.


So what’s this new thing to consider? Well, it’s really only new in the sense that many job-seekers still aren’t in the habit of factoring in for it. It’s called the applicant tracking system or ATS, and what it boils down to is this: resumes and CVs often get scanned, and you can be eliminating yourself from consideration by not knowing the workarounds.

When you apply for a job online, there’s a good chance that applicant tracking is in use, and learning to work with it is essential since you could be competing against an avalanche of applicants. It means creating a “plain vanilla” version of your resume or CV, one without italics and one that uses simple, standard fonts such as Times New Roman or Arial.


  • Ditch the bullets. Some say simple, solid bullets are okay, some say take them out. Since AT systems can vary, it’s probably best to lose them.
  • Don’t use italics.
  • Get rid of graphics and other images.
  • Emphasize specific keywords as often as reasonably possible. If you say Graphics Design once and someone else says it more than that, that person’s resume or CV might fare better.

For more on ATS, read here.

It’s a lot to keep in mind, but hang in there. By understanding not just who, but what you’re dealing with, you’re way ahead of a lot of the competition.

Happy Hunting! We are here for you!

Need more job search advice?

Join Our DiscussionDoes your linkedin profile need a makeover

For more insights and a community of like-minded professionals join our LinkedIn group Resume Help and Advice for Professionals and Executives


Leave a Comment