Resume, CV or Bio-Data

Updated: Jan 20

While looking for a job, the first thing that you look into, is to prepare a Resume… Or, is it a Curriculum Vitae (CV)… Or, a Bio-Data… Does it really matter? Most of the people would say – All of these are the same. Actually, all of us have grown up in our careers and most of us have been using these terms interchangeably.But, is that right? Let us explore that further.

All of us, who have been or are aspiring to be a part of the corporate world, look at this document (Resume, CV or Bio-Data, we’ll decide later, when to use what?) as the first tool, which helps to grab the attention of the potential employer. In cases of details shared for marriage as well, a similar documents helps the other party shortlist the prospective spouse. However, what is it which we should make use of and when?

Let us explore, what these three documents are and what should each one of them contain.


The word resume is a French word, which means Summary. As the title itself, the constituents of a person’s resume contain a summary of work experience, education and skill-set of the individual. The skill-set which are included in the resume are the ones, which are selected, on the basis of the target job, for which the profile is being shared.

The length of the resume, should ideally be 1, or maximum 2 pages. I am sure, you will not be interested in a summary, which is longer than the story itself. The language used in a Resume is in third person. This gives the resume a professional touch and a formal tone.

For getting a professional resume for yourself, click here.

Curriculum Vitae:

Let us now take a flight from France to Italy. Curriculum Vitae, or CV, which is the commonly used short-form is a Latin word which means – Course of Life. The CV is a document used to list out every skill, all the jobs / positions held, degrees, certifications, professional affiliations, that an individual has acquired. The sequencing of these can be ascending or descending. 

Generally, the length of a CV is taken as 2 or 3 pages. This may even be longer, if required. Unlike a resume, the CV is used to highlight the general talent of the person, instead of focus on specific skill.

For getting a professional CV for yourself, click here.


Bio-Data is a short form, used for Biographical Data. This document is exactly what it sounds like. It contains the basic data about a person’s life. In a Bio-data, the emphasis is laid on basic details like – the date of birth, religion, gender, race, nationality etc., which is followed by a listing of education and experience. A biography is usually, a couple of paragraphs used in the professional context, which discusses an individual’s work and achievements.

It is usually the shortest among the three (Resume / CV / Bio-Data). The bio-data is not related to a person’s career goals. The biographical information cannot help to predict future behavior, however, on it’s basis an image gets formed, about likely future behavior of an individual. 

When to use what?

After looking into all the three, let me share which of these documents should you be using in which case. 

The curriculum vitae is preferable for fresh graduates or for people, who are exploring a career change. The reason is that, in the case of a fresh graduate, he / she might be having experience of projects, sports and extra-curricular activities, which should be getting detailed. Some of these might also highlight the skills of an individual like effective communication, team management, problem-solving. For people looking at a career change, it would be important for you to explain in detail what you have been doing in the earlier role or earlier industry. Hence, a CV should be shared.

A resume is ideally suited for mid-level and senior-level positions. The goal of the resume is to make you stand out, vis-a-vis the competition. It becomes important that the resume is customized to every job position, for which the person is applying for. Usually, a key for the customization of the resume is the job description and requirements, against which a person is applying for.  Specially at the mid and senior levels, a summary suffices, on the basis of which, the interviewer will be asking questions. Hence, it should contain not too much information, so that it seems long and neither too less information, so that the resume does not gets shortlisted.

The bio-data is used mostly for applying to government jobs or applying for research grants. In the Indian sub-continent, it is often used for marriage purposes as well.

Geographical Trends

In America and Canada, the preferred job application document is the resume. In these two countries, the CV is used only when applying for a job abroad or when searching for a research oriented position.

In Europe, the usual document shared is the curriculum vitae only. The resumes are rare. 

In Australia and India, as stated earlier, the terms are used interchangeably.

So, it is important to understand, what type of document are you sharing and in which case? I would recommend that you look at the position you are applying for, consider your present position and then decide on the format. There are innumerable sites offering templates for all the three types available free on the net. If you are feeling stuck in selecting the right format, you can connect with me for help.

Best of luck in the search for your dream job!!! 



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