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CV vs. Resume – What’s the Difference?

by Annique Bolliger

A catchy, neat CV or resume might be the key to that fabulous job you’re after. Check out this article to read up on the differences, requirements and important tips for building the perfect life sum-up.

I always used to think that Resume and CV were two names for the same thing – that people in the USA wanted to make CV sound fancy by frenching it up a bit,  while we SA folks stuck to the short and snazzy version of the Latin Curriculum Vitae (please don’t be that person who says Curriculum Vitae).  

The truth

As it turns out, that’s not entirely the case, but I also wasn’t completely off.  “Resume” and “CV” are, strictly speaking, two different types of documents. Depending on which English-speaking country you’re in, there may be a preference for one of the two when applying for jobs.  Moreover, the definitions may vary a little.


In the USA, for example, a resume is indeed the standard term and format used, while in countries like the UK and South Africa, we generally go with the CV. It just so happens, however, that South Africa is one of the countries where it’s not uncommon for people to use “CV” and “Resume” as synonyms. Hence, the confusion.

So let’s see how we can differentiate a CV from a Resume and how to build each.  

So what the heck is the difference?

CV (Curriculum Vitae)

  • A CV is a document that chronologically lists and outlines your educational and professional background, including achievements, awards & publications.
  • It has a standard structure and layout, though this may vary slightly depending on the country or industry you’re applying to.  
  • A CV may be lengthy depending on how dense your list of relevant qualifications and career experiences is (no need to exceed 2 pages while you’re still a spring chicken starting out your career).
  • You may have a standard CV that you can send out to different job positions and, only if need be, tweak it here and there to make it more suitable for each specific job.


  • A resume is a short, articulate summary of your acquired abilities and skills and what makes you suitable for the desired job position.
  • Try keep it to one page.
  • Think of it as pitching yourself. In a few paragraphs, you want to convey to a future employer the essence of what you have to offer, based on your past work experience. This in itself is a great skill to acquire: Know you’re worth and what you have to offer.

You know, so you don’t end up like:

CV 1

  • A resume should ideally be personalised and adapted to suit every individual employer. This may mean slightly changing the tone you use,or choosing to focus on specific skills. For example, you should probably use a different tone when applying to a young start-up company than to a long-standing charity organization.

Do your research!

What does a standard CV and resume look like?


In a standard CV, you need to include: 

  • Personal Information (name, date of birth, nationality)
  • Contact Information (in today’s time, this may include social media accounts such as LinkedIn or Twitter)
  • Language Skills (indicate your written and spoken fluency for each)
  • Educational Background (secondary/tertiary education)
  • Professional Background (your work experiences, starting from your current job and listing chronologically backwards)
  • Extra Qualifications (for example First Aid, or Microsoft Office course)
  • Awards & Achievements

Need more guidance?  The template below will give you a good idea of what your standard CV looks like, as well as the structure and layout it should follow.  You may download it for free to use.

To get started, download our EduConnect CV template for free.


Remember that you may spice up your CV a little when you are applying to jobs that are less academic. My sister, a Junior Interior Designer just drew up her CV on Photoshop, adding cool geometric shapes and giving a super chic look to it. As a designer, it would work against her to follow the standard template. Make sense?  



In a standard Resume, you have to include:

  • Your Personal and Contact Details
  • Main Skills
  • Language and Computer Skills

The layout usually asks for the above info to be listed on one side of the page. On the other, main side of the page, draw up the following:

  • A short paragraph summarising how and why you are suited for the job
  • A list outlining your work experience and the skills you acquired through each

Regardless the format you choose to send to your potential future employer, make sure you get a friend or mentor to review what you’ve put together, and compare your document to someone else’s – preferably someone who has recently submitted theirs and gotten the job they were hunting 😉

CV Builder: come at me

Besides templates, are there any online CV builder tools?

There are plenty! There are many sites nowadays that not only give you loads of free CV and Resume templates but have CV and Resume builders. These actually take the information you have and help you structure it into an up-to-date industry standard document.

And guess who has a kickass CV builder ready for you to use?

CV vs Resume

Yebo. We do! Hop on over and register on EduConnect Plus to check out our CV builder. CLICK HERE

Some important tips for both CV and Resume writing:

  • Don’t get cocky.

When writing up your doc, obviously you’re going to list all your superpowers and make yourself look like an irresistible job candidate. But remember that even though you are pitching yourself and it’s good to know your worth, always prioritise the potential employer. Understand what it is that they want and need, and what kind of genuine information will convince them that what they need is you.

  • Triple-check your spelling.

Yes, it happens. Typos find the sneakiest paths to crawl into your beautiful word arrangement. It happens to the best of us – rocket scientists and all. So make sure you re-read that document over and over and have a second or third pair of eyes review it too. There is absolutely nothing worse than reading a CV with spelling errors. It almost immediately makes the potential employer doubt you.

  • The Pdf vs. Word battle

Whether you should send through your document in Pdf or Word is open for debate, because it depends on the recipient – are you applying to a recruiter? A toy store? A corporate bank?

If you are applying to a company, it’s probably best to send through Word because many companies use internal ATS (Applicant Tracking System) programmes to sort out all the CVs and resumes their getting. Make sure you check if by any chance the employer specifies the format they want – in that case, it’s a no-brainer.

Personally, I have always used the Pdf format for all the hundreds of job applications I’ve applied to because I find it neater. But I also didn’t apply to companies, for the most part (and when I did, I used Pdf). I’ve always been after creative or less corporate areas.

Again, do your research. There are many sites and article that talk about this topic… there’s your bedtime read.

Summing up the sum-up

Though they are two slightly different types of documents, both CVs and resumes are used in order to market yourself to a new employer and give them an idea of your work experience and skills.

Whether to use one or the other format is highly dependent on where in the world you are. So make sure you understand the local standards before you send off your document.

Just remember that while you ought to follow the standard layout and format… at the end of the day, you want your CV to be the one that gives the employer those good chills. So don’t be scared to sneak in your personal spice somewhere.

EduConnect 2Cents

In South Africa, you’re good to go with a CV.   We even have a whole course on CV building – register on EduConnect PLUS and check it out.  We have covered all your bases so you’ve got this CV thing!

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