CV vs Resume: What’s the Difference?

Written by Coursera Staff • Updated on

Although the terms CV and resume are sometimes used interchangeably in India, there are differences between the two documents. To understand when to choose a CV or resume, learn how the two documents differ in use, format, and content.

[Featured image] A woman sits on her settee in her hall working on her resume on her laptop computer.

A curriculum vitae (CV) is usually a diary that lists all of your education, work experience, certificates, awards, and publications in detail. A resume is a single-page summary of your work experience and skills relevant to the job you’re applying for.

While both provide important information, a CV and a resume serve different purposes.

When to use a CV

In India, submitting a CV when applying for university and specific jobs is expected. Your CV will likely be your first attempt at setting yourself apart from other job candidates or university applicants.

Features of a CV

Your CV should include your contact information, the objective for submitting the CV, education, work experience, related skills, and relevant certifications and licenses. 

CV content

The majority of a CV is credential-based. Use this guideline for presenting information when you write your CV:

  1. Contact details

  2. Work experience

  3. Education

  4. Special skills

  5. Certifications and licences

  6. Awards and honours

  7. Names of professional associations

Two important things to remember when creating your CV: Ensure all information is accurate and honest, and be ready to explain any gaps in your work history.

CV format 

CVs are typically at least two pages long. They have uniform sections and consistent text formatting. You’ll want your text size to be between 10- and 12-point, except for section headings. This text should be bolded and slightly larger. Utilise bulleted lists when appropriate and ensure each section is formatted similarly to make your CV easier to read. 

CVs do not need to be elaborately designed. Admissions officers and employers are looking for plenty of white space, an uncluttered document, consistent formatting, and content free of spelling and grammatical errors. Incorporating all of these qualities will result in a neat and polished document.

When to use a resume 

In India, a resume is used to apply for most jobs. A resume serves three important purposes: introducing yourself, presenting your qualifications, and landing an interview. 

Features of a resume 

Resumes are created to feature all of your best qualities and accomplishments. They should be concise, tailored to the job you're applying for, and easily scannable. 

Resume content

First, you’ll want to ensure that your contact information is displayed so you can be contacted for an interview quickly. Then, it would be best if you focused on your job history. This portion of your resume will explain your work experience and show that you fit the role well.

It’s also important to provide an educational background that emphasises your studies and academic achievements. After listing your educational accomplishments, you should include any information about government-required licenses and professional certifications that you may have. The last section will focus on the skills that may help demonstrate your special talents and abilities. 

Resume format

The most significant difference between CV and resume formatting is that CVs will be multiple pages long, and resumes will be one page unless you have 10 or more years of relevant work experience. 

Practical resumes are designed to grab the attention of employers. Take some time to explore and create different templates. Choose one that will help your resume stand out visually. It's okay to pick a template that uses colour; however, it’s better to steer clear of multicoloured templates—one accent colour is more than enough. 

Those reviewing your resume will typically prefer a well-organised document with sufficient white space, text no smaller than 11-point, and consistent margins of no less than 0.5 inches.

CV vs resume: Which should I choose? 

In India, you should submit a CV for university applications, fellowships, research, and postdoctoral positions. You may also be required to submit a CV for specific positions like government jobs. Otherwise, you should submit a resume.

If you're applying for work in Ireland, the UK, New Zealand, or a university in most parts of the world, submitting a CV will likely be required. If you're applying for work in the US or Canada, submitting a one-page resume is best. 



Although it is becoming rare, some employers in India may require applicants to submit bio-data (biographical data) to supplement a resume or CV. This summary of personal information includes your address, gender, birth date, marital status, religious affiliation, and other personal details.

Next steps

You can just take a course if you need help creating a resume. The How to Write a Resume course on Coursera offers a variety of tips and tricks for creating a polished resume. All you need is a word processor.

Keep reading

Updated on
Written by:

Editorial Team

Coursera’s editorial team is comprised of highly experienced professional editors, writers, and fact...

This content has been made available for informational purposes only. Learners are advised to conduct additional research to ensure that courses and other credentials pursued meet their personal, professional, and financial goals.