What’s the Difference between a CV, Resume and Cover Letter? - Live Assets

What’s the Difference between a CV, Resume and Cover Letter?

September 11, 2022 -

When applying for a job, there are a few different ways you can prove your value to the recruiter. When written well, your CV, resume, or cover letter can make you stand out and have the power to get your application pushed further in the recruiting process.


Unfortunately, it’s relatively common that these three documents and their purposes get mixed up and are used interchangeably, particularly CVs and resumes. Understanding the differences between a CV and a resume and when to use them will ensure you create a killer job application and impress the recruiters.


What is a Curriculum Vitae?


CV or curriculum vitæ is Latin for ‘course of life. Living up to its namesake, a CV provides a detailed look at your career journey and everything you have done and achieved.

Unlike a resume, this document has no page limit, but depending on your length of experience, it can range from 2 to 8 pages.


The objective of a CV is to demonstrate your overall talent. Your CV should be updated every time you accomplish something new, whether academic or professional. So, if you get a new job, publish a journal, acquire a new skill, and so on, you will need to add it to your CV.


The main essentials of a CV are:

  • Name
  • Contact information
  • Summary or objective, or professional title
  • Education
  • Publications (peer reviews papers and books)
  • Work experience
  • Awards and honours
  • Skills
  • Conferences
  • Languages
  • Research experience
  • Certificates
  • Membership


The above information should be presented in chronological order.


When to use a CV

Due to the large volume of information required, a CV is considered standard within the academic community unless an employer specifies it. For typical IT jobs, your CV is not necessary unless entering a role in academia.



What is a Resume?


Resume comes from the French word résumé meaning ‘summary.’  The purpose of a resume is to highlight or summarize your education, skills and work experience. Though it does include similar information to a CV, a resume is much more concise and customized to the targeted job. Ideally, try to keep this document one- page long, but if you have 15+ years of experience, you can make it two pages as long as the information is valuable.


A well-constructed resume should highlight your contributions in previous jobs and emphasize how your skills are relevant to the position you’re applying for. When writing a resume, your goal is to promote the skills that make you useful for the position.


What information to include:

  • Contact information
  • Summary or objective statement
  • Professional experience
  • Education
  • Skills
  • Additional information to include:

o   Awards/achievements

o   Certificates/licenses

o   Interests


This information can be formatted in various ways, but the most common styles include reverse-chronological, functional or hybrid (a combination of both styles).


When to use a Resume

When applying for jobs in Canada or the US, you most likely will always send in a resume unless the employer states otherwise.


To learn more about writing a resume, check out our resume guide.



What is a Cover Letter?


A cover letter is a one-page document that gives a quick overview of your work background and makes a case for why you would make a suitable candidate for the job. Your cover letter should also briefly provide your intent and motivation for applying and building on the skills and experiences that can be found on your resume.



When to use a Cover Letter

A cover letter can be an excellent addition to your resume. Even if an employer doesn’t specifically ask for it, a cover letter can encourage a recruiter to check out your resume or CV.



In summary:

  • A CV is a detailed document of your entire professional career used in the world of professional academia
  • A resume is a brief overview of your skills and work experience that should be customized to the job you’re applying for.
  • A cover letter builds upon your skills and experiences included on your resume



Need more help?

Toronto’s best recruitment agency has your back if you need further help deciphering when and where to use any of these three application methods.




IT Recruitment Agency in Toronto | About Live Assets | IT Staffing Solutions

Live Assets is a boutique IT Staffing/Recruiting firm specializing exclusively in building IT teams of excellence for the Information Technology sector.

We are a small, but productive team that works closely together and has had a 96% success rate for the past number of years!

We have a diverse number of clients and industries and focus on both full-time and contract I.T. opportunities.

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