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CVs, letters and application forms

These self promotion tools are the first thing an employer sees about you. If they are uninspiring and difficult to read, what will an employer conclude about you?

The main purpose of a curriculum vitae (CV) or resume is to persuade an employer that you have the skills and abilities they require, and get them to offer you a job interview.

A well-written and presented CV is therefore an essential part of the job seeking process.  Your CV needs to offer a concise summary of your qualifications, competencies, experience and skillset. Try to limit your CV to two A4 pages and have it available in both print and electronic formats. 

Preparing your CV

  • Target your CV towards the job you are applying for.
  • Always check your spelling and grammar.
  • Use a straightforward font and keep the formatting simple.
What to include:
  • All relevant academic/professional qualifications and associated work experience.
  • Any previous boating or outdoor activity experience (eg, dinghy sailing, windsurfing).
  • Any spoken languages.
  • Any practical skills (eg, mechanical, electronic, woodwork etc).
  • Evidence of your customer service experience work.
  • Mention your IT and office skills, such as bookkeeping.

Top tips

  • Provide letters of reference which endorse your character and capabilities.
  • Keep several copies of your licences and certificates.
  • Keep your job application documents in waterproof folders.


  • Write in a clear, professional and positive style
  • Keep your CV to two sides of A4 and covering letter to one side of A4
  • Keep a hard copy of both
  • Use keywords that show you match the position requirements
  • Put your most relevant skills at the beginning of your CV


  • Send an impersonal mailshot.
  • Email CVs in a format which may be incompatible with an employer's software.
  • Use jargon or abbreviations.
  • Use dense blocks of text, large blank spaces, lots of different fonts.
  • Forget to check spelling and grammar.

Most jobs require you to complete an application form.  However, employers regularly tell us that they bin hundreds of applications due to:

  • Poor spelling and grammar.
  • Not completing all the sections.
  • Providing opinion rather than evidence.

Using social media

Many employers today expect you to use digital and social media tools in addition to a CV. Solent University has produced a useful guide* on how to use social media to your best advantage and also how to avoid the pitfalls.

*Solent Student Portal login details required

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