What is a CV?
In a nutshell, your curriculum vitae, or, as it's commonly known, "CV", or resume is a summarised reflection of you. Meaning "course of life" in Latin, the CV represents your professional and, sometimes, personal achievements; consequently, when someone looks at your CV, he or she should be able to get a clear indication of your qualifications before ever meeting you.
CVs have a variety of legitimate functions, but they are mainly used to obtain employment. Hence, when a job posting is advertised, prospective employees submit their CVs for consideration. As you can imagine, the employer receiving this slew of informative documents needs to be able to read through them easily and efficiently.
Keep it SimpleFor this reason, CVs are typically kept "short and sweet". Extraneous language and flowery descriptions are generally frowned upon (though a certain amount of subtle "boasting" is expected), as they detract from the factual information contained in this document. Bullet points and succinct sentences or phrases are commonly used, as they are eye-catching and easy to scan. Though some CV writers do include professional objective sentences or paragraphs, those are typically very concise.
Make Sure Your CV is Up to DateYour CV changes throughout your life; it's considered to be a "living" document. You may even have a number of CVs if you perform various types of work. Thus, it's important to continuously add to your CV. Unfortunately, many people only rework their CVs when they are seeking new employment, risking potentially forgetting important details. It's wiser to look over your CV every three to six months and modify it as necessary. That way, nothing will be eliminated should you be asked to provide it to someone.
In today's Internet environment, many people have chosen to put their CVs online. Whether they offer their CV on their personal websites or as additions to their blogs, they feel that advertising their talents and experiences online will translate into work. Though this may be helpful if you're a freelancing artist or writer, it probably isn't going to get you a traditional desk job. For that, you'll need an old-fashioned paper CV.
Formatting and PresentationSome people become very caught up in the formatting of their CVs; though it is definitely important for a CV to be readable, having bells and whistles isn't necessary. In the same vein, it's not always as crucial to use "special" paper, such as linen or coloured sheets; plain white is fine for a standard CV and will probably not cost you the interview. (However, it's more appropriate to send your CV unfolded; thus, you'll want to invest in a larger envelope unless you'll be distributing your CV face-to-face or sending it via fax.)
If you're unsure about the quality, clarity, and usefulness of your current CV, you can always hire a CV-writing outfit to create one for you. Just be cautious when investing in this type of service; ask for a number of references, especially if you pick a CV or resume writing service through the Internet.
In the end, just keep in mind that most people will see your CV before they ever meet you. Therefore, it's important to keep it relevant, updated, grammatically error-free, and factual. You'll probably be surprised to find that you've accomplished quite a bit over the years; and, hopefully, others will be just as impressed when your CV crosses their paths.