Your CV is the most important part of your job application; it’s there to sell you to a potential employer. Be positive and make the most of it. Pack it with all the reasons that would make it impossible for an employer to overlook you. Curriculum Vitae is Latin for "the course of my life" and this is what it should represent. Start with your name and contact details and follow it with a personal statement; a paragraph about yourself, namely what you’re doing at the moment, what you want to do, where you want to do it and some skills and experience that make you suitable for the position you’re applying for.
List your jobs and work experience, explaining where necessary the gaps where you were not working. When describing your previous jobs, make sure to keep it relevant to the position that you’re applying for. Be clear and succinct. State the start and finish date, the company you worked for, the position you held and a brief description of the role and your responsibilities. Also add key achievements that would be of interest to a prospective employer.
This should be a couple of simple lines stating where you gained a qualification, what qualification it was and the grade you achieved. Also be sure to add any extra courses you attended or certificates you achieved in previous jobs.
Keep it simple; create a brief list of the skills you can offer to a prospective employer. Separate the personal qualities that you possess from the technical skills. Things like customer service skills ought to be in the former and pieces of software you can use should be in the latter.
Not always necessary, but nice to sign off with nonetheless; a paragraph about yourself, your hobbies and things you are trying to achieve in your personal life. Remember this could be the thing that sets you apart from another candidate with similar skills and experiences. So if you enjoy participating in historical re-enactments, write about it. Write about how you’re learning another language or teaching the piano, because it’s in those tiny facets of your personality that an employer could find a desirable quality.
With regard to references, it is advised that you leave them off and state "References available upon request". There are a two reasons for this; firstly a potential employer shouldn’t need your references until after an interview and it’s a section you won’t have to update as your references change.
The importance of proof reading your CV cannot be stressed enough. A high number of recruitment consultants and employees list spelling and grammar mistakes on a CV as a reason to reject a candidate. Always spell check your CV and then print it off and thoroughly check it for spelling and grammar errors which spell checkers may not pick up. It is also strongly advised that you ask someone to proof your CV for you as it can be difficult to spot errors in your own work.
Remember, your CV should be no more than two pages long and should be a constant work in progress, where you add new skills and experience to make it the best it can possibly be.