WHETHER you are looking for a career move or a short-term assignment, the key to success lies in your ability to sell yourself.

For candidates the job application process usually begins with a written application with most employers and consultancies now expecting you to submit a CV, a brief history of your experience and achievements to date.

In an overcrowded market, recruiters, whether they are consultants, human resources people or line managers, are often faced with a huge pile of CVs in the first stage of the process, so it is essential your resume communicates quickly and efficiently and conveys the right impression.

Never write a CV by hand, even if your handwriting is a work of art; a typewriter or word processor is essential. Check spelling and punctuation meticulously as just one mistake can spoil an otherwise good impression.

When listing personal details, keep them to the essentials: name, age, date of birth, address, marital status, nationality, home telephone number and, if it is at all possible, daytime telephone number.

The next element is your educational background, which should include a list of all secondary schools and any further education establishments you have attended, complete with dates and examination successes, both academic and professional.

Moving on to the employment history section, remember that too much detail is just as bad as reducing the past to a couple of sentences.

Aim to show a history of progression and achievement in your career and draw attention to technical accomplishments, interpersonal skills, decision-making ability and computer literacy.

When the CV is complete, get someone else to read it for typing errors, sense and signs of modesty or megalomania, then edit as necessary.

The CV should be accompanied by a covering letter, which should also be typed rather than hand-written unless specified by the recruiter.

Make sure that the content is concise and to the point. Explain briefly which position you are applying for and why your background is relevant.

Finally, if you are sent a form to fill in, then do it conscientiously.

Answer all the questions rather than just those that appeal and resist the temptation to write "refer to CV," which is guaranteed to irritate even the most mild-mannered recruiter.