Resume, CV or Bio?

You will come across all of these terms - resume, CV and bio - quite regularly, but what do they mean? Are they all different words for the same thing? 

Technically, the answer is no. They are all quite different things. In practice, Resume and CV are used interchangeably, while a Bio is something else altogether.


For personal one-to-one help, see our Resume Writing Services page.

Or more correctly résumé, but I do not have those accents on my keyboard. This is the one you will come across most often in Australia and writing them is one of our core services.

A resume is a document you will use in a job application and should be tailored to the specific position you are applying for. It should be a well-presented summary of all of your strongest claims to the position you are applying for - and nothing else. This will include your career history, but not every last detail. A resume should be brief and should serve to give your potential employer a concise and targeted overview of your relevant career achievements. 

Keep in mind that when presenting a resume, you want to catch the eye of your potential employer as quickly as possible. Therefore, you need to consider what they employer is looking for and present your core strengths and relevant work history accordingly. You can achieve this through proper editing, rearranging of relevant information and adding/removing career achievements as needed. We recommend that you keep an up-to-date full CV of your entire career as a resource when compiling a resume – which brings us to the question: what’s the difference between a resume and a CV?

CV – Curriculum Vitae

The Curriculum Vitae is a much longer and more detailed document than a resume. It will detail and outline everything you have ever done in your career, whether relevant to one particular job application or not. It is not unusual to see fifteen or twenty page curriculum vitae. There are cases where a full curriculum vitae is exactly the correct document to use. For example, CVs are used extensively in academia – where a Professor will list every appointment held, every research post, every academic publication, every academic presentation/ speaking engagement etc. CVs generally contain only facts and lists of information, whereas a resume can be a more 'persuasive' document with information rearranged based on the needs of specific target job application.

While the distinction between a resume and CV is (by definition) pretty clear, in the ‘employment world’, the term 'CV' has become interchangeable with 'resume'. In this context it does not mean a fifteen - twenty page document!

Some countries use one term more than the other. Australia tends to use resume more than CV, the USA uses resume almost exclusively while the UK mainly uses CV. Everybody understands what they are though.

Maintaining an up to date and thorough CV will be helpful when applying for future job opportunities, as you can then draw on the CV as a source for your resume when you make the applications.

Bio – Biography

The biography is something entirely different. It is a short (usually only two or three paragraphs) summary of your background, often with a photo, that serves a specific purpose (usually marketing related). A bio is not typically a recruitment document, though a prominent and strong bio can certainly help with your visibility and positioning at job-hunting time.

You will have seen biographies frequently: the bio of the author inside the dust cover of a book; the bio of an actor in a theatre production programme or the bio of a sports team member in a match programme. Of more relevance to the business world, the bio of the management of a company on a web site, like mine here.

You may also have seen biographies on Linkedin - in the form of the Summary section at the top of a LinkedIn profile. With increasingly more companies and recruiters turning to Linkedin as a source for finding and assessing candidates, the Linkedin profile has become a critical tool for job searchers. While a resume and/or CV will provide the detailed information of your work history, a strong LinkedIn bio will give a potential employer or client an easily-found, concise representation of your experience and skill set.

The key point is that bios serve a specific purpose and are designed to be read by a wide audience, unlike a resume/ CV which is more targeted to a narrow audience.

For more information or help

See our Resume Writing Services page, call us on 1300 97 87 66 or email us for more information. We will be pleased to help.