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How to write a great CV

 7th Oct 2021

Ask 1000 different people their opinions on CV’s and you will probably get 1000 different answers! 

So, this is our tuppence worth of how Accountancy & Finance professionals should consider composing their CV.  

A curriculum vitae is a written overview of professional life, listing your skills, experience, knowledge, and qualifications. A well-written CV will differentiate you from other candidates. 

The CV is invariably the first representation of you to an employer or recruiter so it’s important to be happy with it.  

Here are 6 important tips to get you started: 

  1. Present well 

When creating a CV, think about the most reader-friendly way for it to be presented. 

Think about how you’ll use headings, spaces, lists, summaries, and more so that it is as easy as possible to find crucial information. List your work history in reverse chronological order, with your most recent job first, working backwards. 

Images, photos, and colourful diagrams, whilst can be a representation of your personality, for the most part, are unnecessary and at times can distract your reader rather than add anything of real value.  Substance over style generally wins the day! 

  1. Make a statement 

Think about including a short profile section at the beginning of your CV that isn’t specific to your education or career experience but introduces you and your personal qualities. Showcase your capabilities, highlight what makes you right for the role and your career goals. 

  1. Don’t focus on the length but keep it concise 

There is a dated view that a CV should be no more than 2 pages but as long as it’s relevant and quality content, it should be included. There’s no need to cut out important information, it’s better to start with more, then tailor and cut down if required.  

That said, a CV should never be very long and you still want to try and keep it as concise yet informative as possible. If you have lots of experience and/or are quite far into your career, think about how best to summarise each role (particularly earlier roles) in 3 or 4 bullet points. 

  1. Be specific 

Although you may be applying for more than one role at the same time, it’s preferable to avoid creating a very generic CV. Consider the content of the role profile of the position you are applying to and look at how you can demonstrate the required skills clearly.  

Additionally, don’t copy and paste job descriptions on multiple jobs. For example, whilst it’s expected that a “Finance Manager” role in a small/medium-sized company will have very similar if not the same tasks, each role/industry sector/company is unique and will likely have an emphasis on different aspects of the remit.  

  1. Back to basics  

  • Layout: Short paragraphs and/or bullet points are ideal. Veer away from lengthy, unpunctuated paragraphs.

  • Tone: Try to avoid overly relaxed language or slang. Conversely, excessively formal words or very long sentences could make your CV hard to read.  

  • Spelling, Punctuation & Grammar: Read through and double-check your document every time you update or edit it to ensure you promote yourself as best you can. Moreover, try to avoid using 1st or 3rd person language, keep it as neutral as possible.

  • Dates: Ensure that you have included months / years for education, qualifications, and employment. 

  • Contact Information: Include an email address, at least one phone number to ensure recruiters and hiring managers can reach you. 

  • Skills: Create a skills section to highlight what you believe are your strengths and softer skills and evidence these as it relates to your practical work experience. 

  1. Achievements Focus 

A good CV should in effect say, “here is my job, and this is how I have impacted my job”. Therefore consider having an achievements section (1, 2 or 3 bullet points should suffice) under each of your more recent roles. This is helpful as it shows how that particular position has brought you to where you are in your career and importantly, how you have performed and added value to those roles, which is always something hiring managers are interested in.   

Written by Nathalie Smyth.  

To discuss how W&A can help you prepare your CV or for more general career guidance, please contact one of our highly experienced recruiters.   

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