How to write an impressive CV

Format:

Your CV should be no longer than two sides of A4 paper. The font you use should be easy to read and clear - and large enough to be faxable and legible (no smaller than size 8!), and always use good quality, thick white paper.

Remember also that your CV is your advert, you are selling yourself as a marketable person and so tailor it to whom you are going to send it to. If you're applying for a job in catering, stress your catering expertise, but if you want to work at a fast-track management, stress your experience in leading and motivating people and teams. For this reason, it is vital to enclose a covering letter.

Ideally, your CV should consist of the following sections:

Name:

If you have more than one first name, underline the one that you refer to yourself as: i.e. John Charles Smith. And if you have a name like Lesley or Hilary - put Mr or Miss before the name!

Personal Details:

Profile and Objective:

This is where you get to sell yourself and tell the reader whom you are. Let them know why you are writing this CV and what sort of job you are looking for. Use plenty of positive words - dynamic, self-motivated, flexible, keen; remember, this is what is going to differentiate you from the other people applying.

Skills:

What is that you can do? Bullet point your skills - for example

Remember to keep it relevant. If you're applying for a job to be a doctor, does it matter how fast you can type? And keep it focussed on the business side - good at golf is NOT a key skill.

Education:

In reverse order, detail your academic qualifications including details of the subjects you have studied, the grades you've received, the dates you did your exams, your expected degree mark. Include here also any studying abroad that you may have done. Also detail your secondary education down to your GCSEs. But if they're not wholly impressive, leave them out, but DO include your A-level results.

Employment history:

Again, in reverse, dated order, list your previous employers and your job description. Also list you summer and part-time jobs with titles that describe what you did, and if you spent two summers doing nothing, be prepared to be asked why when in your interview. Don't worry about you reasons for leaving the jobs, you can raise that at the interview stage - but you'd better have some good answers.

Achievements and Interests:

All these will be of interest to a prospective employer and you may find common ground here with the interviewer - he may have a fascinating spoon collection as well!

Covering Letter:

A covering letter should always accompany your CV and should, in more detail, outline why you want the job, and more specifically, what you can offer to the prospective employer in terms of enthusiasm, skills and experience. Don't waffle on too much - two or three clear paragraphs should be enough.

Don't forget to include a reference number if appropriate and address it to the correct person. Try not to write - "to whom it may concern, dear sir or madam", find out who will receive you letter. Even 'phone the company to whom you're applying to find out who deals with recruitment. Send them a copy by fax, but also find out their e-mail address and e-mail it to them with a brief note.

Remember - you are competing with many people with similar skills sets for the same role. Some companies rule out CVs with spelling mistakes and just don't read them, so obviously make sure you checked and rechecked it!