Your CV can be a tricky little thing, can’t it? There’s so much advice out there that it’s sometimes difficult to know where to start. This, as the title suggests is not a comprehensive guide to CV creation, but a pick & mix selection of the advice my accountancy candidates appear to value the most.
The reality is that most people reviewing your CV will only read the first page before they make a decision. This means you have to capture their attention pretty quickly. My top tips for this are:
This should be the first thing that the reader should see (below your contact details and name). Use adjectives that describe you as a person such as ‘diligent’, ‘conscientious’, ‘passionate’, ‘ambitious’, ‘personable’, ‘motivated’ and give a brief overview of your experience and what you are now looking for in your career. You want to excite the reader not send them to sleep.
This section is so often missed in the CV’s that I review and yet it’s one of the easiest ways of ensuring you capture the reader’s attention. It also acts as a checklist to ensure that you tailor your CV to each role. Look up the person profiles for the type of role that you are going for and make sure you include these as bullet points in this section (to the extent that you have these skills of course!). For example a newly qualified job in industry could need someone with:
- Good attention to detail and ability to work with large volumes of data;
- Excellent excel skills including V-look ups and pivot tables;
- Ability to communicate at all levels;
- Ability to prioritise and work to tight deadlines;
- Strong commercial and analytical skills.
If you’re more advanced in your career and going for your first FD position for example, then skills such as team development; negotiation; presentation to the board (and externally); ability to think strategically/ business partnering will become important. Again it’s critical to tailor this each time.
The jury is out in terms of how long a CV should be. As mentioned already it is the first page that is most important and so whether your CV is two, three or (for the more experienced candidate) four pages is probably less relevant. Any more than four pages however indicates to me a person who is less capable of summarising important information succinctly and could be the tipping point to a premature journey to the recycling bin. Similarly if a newly qualified produced a CV that was four pages long alarm bells would start ringing.
Do make use of the header – put all your contact details here. It saves vital space.
Do not put Curriculum Vitae as the title – it’s obvious what it is and this makes it look like you’ve just drafted your first CV. Instead put your name plus any relevant letters for your qualifications (ACA/ ACCA etc).
Superfluous personal info
Don’t include your date of birth, marital status or health (yes really). This makes you look ignorant of current legislation.
If you found this article useful, and you feel you could benefit from a CV health-check, then please call me on 07585 909107 or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.