Dissect the difference between a CV vs an application form in this easy-to-understand article

You've spied a role you're desperate to apply for. You reckon you tick most of the boxes on the job advert. The location and salary are appealing. So what's the application process? CV or application form? What's the difference and how do you go about applying, depending on which one it is? They have very different approaches so read on to find out more. 

What is a CV?

A CV is a professional document, normally two pages long, that details your career experience, highlights your key skills and strengths, is designed to get you through the ATS systems - if written by a professional CV writer - and provides contact details for a recruiter to get in touch with you easily.

There are three main types of CV, so it's worth deciding which one to plump for before starting your draft.

Applying for a role with a CV often requires a tailored cover letter as well.

What is an application form?

While a CV is crafted by the applicant, an application form is created by either the recruiting firm or the organisation that's advertising the job. In a CV vs application form scenario, the application form focuses on the areas of the particular position that are the most important, as well as reflecting the culture of the company. It should be written in such a way that pertinent questions bring out the best in each candidate.

The purpose of an application form is to whittle down a large volume of candidates to an acceptable number that can then be put forward for interview.

The advantages of CVs vs application forms

CVs are constantly evolving to remain relevant in the recruitment sector. While writing a CV can take time and effort, you're the one in control. You can also customise it to each position that you apply for.  

When you come across an application form for a job, you can transfer some of the information already on your CV onto the form. Do make sure it's relevant though, and answers the questions posed. You might have to change the tone slightly so it's not in “CV speak” i.e. written in the third person without pronouns. You should still be able to weave in all your special skills and assets that make you worthy of securing an interview.

What are the advantages and disadvantages of CVs?


  • Once you have a good, solid CV, you can use it for all sorts of job applications 

  • It's the best way to demonstrate your unique skill set, as well as bit of your personality, especially if you're going for a creative role


  • CVs can take a lot of time to get into shape

  • You need to tailor them to each job role, which takes up yet more time

What are the advantages and disadvantages of application forms?


  • You don't need to have taken the time to write a CV

  • Application forms are standardised to create a fair system, so that all applications will be treated the same - with CVs, a professionally-written document is likely to perform better than one written by the candidate

  • There's no distracting waffle that some people have on their CVs, such as irrelevant hobbies or detailed exam results from 1972


  • They can put off applicants, as they can take a long time to complete, especially if they're overlong and complicated

  • You can only include information on an application form that the hiring manager or company want you to provide, but with a CV you can include additional details that you want to share

  • You can't show off your brand as well as you can on your CV

The wrap up

As a job candidate, you don't have any say over which method, CV vs application form, is used to sift out applicants. All you can do is to make sure that you showcase your strengths in the best possible way and tailor your application to the job you're applying to at the time.

Whether you have to apply for a role via an application form or a CV, you'll want to make sure you're ahead of the game by having your CV in tip top condition. Check out our free CV review service for starters.

Recommended reading:

Related Articles: