|By Rutherford Cross, ICAS CA Jobs Partner
Whenever you are considering a potential career move, the first step is to write or update your CV. This can initially seem like a daunting task, so Recruitment Consultant, Harry Young has pulled together some best practice guidance for writing a CV that maximises your chances of getting an interview, based on his experience reviewing and reformatting thousands of CVs!
The first thing to remember is that a CV is a tool: A tool that you use to open the door to an interview. It is essentially a document you use to sell your experience and character as efficiently as possible, in relation to the business and position you are applying for.
How long should my CV be?
There are many ways to construct a CV and I have seen all sorts of CVs in my inbox over the years: Biography-based, bullet-pointed, avant-garde and even some ten-page+ documents. Your CV doesn’t need to be ‘War and Peace’; Two or three pages is all that is necessary, provided you are being concise and accurate with the content
The more experienced you are, the more content you will have to add. However, if you are earlier in your career (i.e., applying for grad schemes/looking for industry roles post training contract), 2 pages should absolutely suffice.
· Include any relevant post-nominal letters after your name, related to ICAS, ICAEW, ACCA, CIMA etc.
· Recruiters will look at where you’re based to ensure you are within easy commuting distance for the role you have applied for. If you’re looking to relocate, make sure that this is stated clearly next to your current address.
· Include your contact information. It sounds obvious, but it is important to make it as easy as possible for people to contact you, so have your contact information in bold at the top.
· If you have a LinkedIn profile, add in a link beside your contact details. This is another avenue of contact with anyone potentially interested in your profile and will allow them to connect with you online, adding them to your network for future opportunities.
In terms of structure, I would always advise leading at the top with your name, contact information and qualifications/education in a very clear format. One big thing to avoid is using complex CV layouts. Microsoft Word/PDF with font size 10-12 in a regularly used format (Calibri, Arial, Times New Roman etc.) and will work well.
After this, you should have your personal statement. This should only be a few lines covering all essential information about your career, qualifications and experience. A well-written personal statement will encourage the reader to keep reading, so it is important to get this right.
A good example of a personal statement looks like this:
“I am an ICAS qualified (2019) Chartered Accountant who trained with Big 4 accountancy firm KPMG in their audit department, passing all of my exams first time. I have a degree in accountancy and finance from the University of Edinburgh and post qualification I have over five years of experience in accountancy posts within the commercial industry, predominantly within the financial services sector. I have a very high level of IT literacy, including advanced Excel skills and I am now seeking a controller level leadership opportunity.”
After your personal statement, it’s time to write about your career history. Always start with your most recent position working backwards from there. Your role may be broad, so it is important to tailor this section to the specific role you are applying for. For example, if you are working in a group accounting role and have analytical responsibilities but are looking to move into a finance analyst position, make sure to highlight the analytically focused aspects of your role in more detail. You should have a bullet-point list covering all the responsibilities in your role, but also make sure to highlight any achievements and ad-hoc work you have undertaken.
If you are working in a firm, it is worthwhile highlighting information about your client base including sector, turnover and the role you played in auditing/preparing accounts for them. If you are looking to transition from practice into an industry role, this gives the company some reassurance you have relevant experience understanding a comparable organisation.
Once you have written your contact information, education, qualifications, personal statement, and experience in this format, I would suggest having two additional small sections.