The English application: Curriculum vitae

Differences between a résumé and a CV

There are significant differences between an application for an academic career in the area of research and an application for the private sector. The terms, resume/CV and résumé, are used synonymously in Europe. In the US and Canada, however, the words have different meanings and it is important to know the difference. Depending on the job that you are applying for, either the resume/CV or the résumé has to be enclosed with your application.


In the private sector and in non-academic professions in the US, the only information that matters to the prospective employer is that which fits the advertised position. Your focus areas during studies and publications are unimportant. The résumé does not require continuous text and focuses on enumerations. Therefore, you should not use detailed formulations here, but meaningful and active catch phrases. The arrangement is in anti-chronological order and you should start with the most recent event. Focus on the aspects that are relevant for the vacancy. Choose carefully only the highlights from your jobs and internships that best fit the position to be filled. If you write down everything you have achieved so far, you give up your chance to emphasize the truly relevant strengths to your future employer. Remember, less is more.

CV in the US only for academic professions and research

Build a CV if you plan on a career in science or research in the US or Canada. These countries place a different emphasis on your professional expertise in the area. Never use just any CV for a job application in the private sector in the US. A multi-page CV can quickly evoke the impression of an academic who is out of touch with reality. Time is money and no one in the non-academic sector reads pages of your scientific research projects and publications.

The CV of a young scientist sometimes spreads over four to six pages. A professor’s CV can be more than 10 pages long, as everything you have done so far as a scientist is given here. Each project, no matter how short or long, is listed and reflects your experiences in the research landscape. There is no need to explain specialist terms and technical expressions as it can be assumed that the potential employer is familiar with the relevant terms.

The detailed CV can also be used for academic applications in the UK.

Different industries require different CVs

In addition to the anti-chronological resume, English CVs may appear in another version. If you have occupied several positions in similar fields of activity, the functional resume/CV is recommended, as you have the opportunity to reduce the length here.

Under the heading of ‘professional experience’, mention the different skills you have acquired so far. This is particularly recommended in areas such as marketing and sales. Especially if the job description refers to a specialized profession, the functional resume should be used. Here, your skills should be in focus. If you have acquired, for example, ‘marketing experience’ at different firms, mention this experience only once and follow this up with a list of the relevant companies. Multiple repetitions that make the resume seem boring can thus be avoided. In addition, you can highlight the many different employers with whom you have been associated.

Short and sweet

  • Difference between CV and résumé exists only in the US and in Canada
  • Résumé: Private sector and non-academic professions
  • CV: Academic professions, science and research
  • Functional CV if you had a frequent change of employers
      (The focus lies on the skills and not on the individual employers.)

We edit ...
Curriculum Vitae

starting from 39 EUR
Cover Letter
(covering letter)

starting from 39 EUR
Cover Letter   &
Curriculum Vitae

starting from 49 EUR
» How It Works «