Several documents can describe a person's accomplishments. A resume has the most focus, providing specific information to show why a job applicant holds the qualifications for a single job. A curriculum vitae is more expansive, and it lists all of the applicant's professional history, including information that does not pertain to the specific job. Biodata includes accomplishments which are not work related but show that the employee would perform well at the job.
The resume is usually a very short document, normally one or two pages. A resume includes basic information such as the name of the school that the applicant went to and the level of the degree that he holds, such as a B.S. A curriculum vitae is more useful in a setting such as selecting a professor for a university, where the university needs to know detailed information such as the title of each research paper the applicant wrote, and the professors that he studied under.
Biographical data can refer to a document that the applicant writes, but it can also be a multiple choice personality test. Instead of asking for specific job accomplishments, the employer asks a question like whether the applicant ever won a prize at an academic event at her school, or whether she keeps the documents on her desk well organized. The employer assumes that if the applicant has desirable traits such as good motivation and a friendly personality outside of work, she is more likely to be a good employee.
The applicant is more likely to know the factors that the employer is using to make a decision while he is writing a resume. If a curriculum vitae includes the titles of 50 papers that an applicant for a position wrote, he is less likely to know which paper topic is most important to the interviewer, according to Marquette University. With biodata, the employer might ask several irrelevant biographical questions so that it is harder for the applicant to guess the specific traits that the test is screening for, to prevent the applicant from offering false biodata answers.
If an applicant is applying to several jobs, she may need to create separate versions of her resume that emphasize the skills that each employer lists in the job description, while keeping the document below two pages. With a curriculum vitae, the applicant does not need to remove irrelevant skills, although she does add her new accomplishments, so the length of the curriculum vitae increases as she gains experience. The employer decides the length of a biodata survey.