The Perfect Finance CV
Posted by Callum MacRae
Creating the ideal CV can be a tricky task, but the perfect Finance CV is the very first step towards your dream job. To avoid your CV being dismissed and missing out on that all-important job interview, there are things you need to consider, and our specialist finance recruiters have provided all the information you need to create that perfect CV! Unlike ticking the ‘open to opportunities’ box on LinkedIn, submitting your CV symbolises an active interest in a role. Best to avoid the mentality of “just send my CV and see what they come back with”. If the role is worth applying for at all, then this is presumably worth doing with your best foot forward. A specialist finance recruiter will likely see over 100 CVs each week. With both your experience and motivations in mind, they should be able to consult on: (1) the common mistakes to avoid and (2) how best to tailor your CV and exhibit your strengths. We have provided a general step-by-step guide on how to format your CV in the candidate-scarce and technically-niche finance market, which includes: General formatting: keep it simple The executive summary: lose the fluff Employment history: bullet point what you did The application: tailor your CV before applying Quick disclaimer: ‘the perfect CV’ does not reference a stereotypically perfect career as it may appear on paper, though exemplar excerpts have been included below for illustration. 1. General CV formatting: keep it simple. Your experience should speak for itself in a way that is easily comparable with other CVs. Send your CV to your recruiter in Word (not PDF) format and say goodbye to: Flashy fonts (keep it to black, Arial size 11) Convoluted layouts (stay away from using any kind of columns) Photographs Charts/images ranking your skills The length of your CV is entirely dependent on your seniority. You would ideally want about half a page per role, outlining your key achievements, responsibilities, and clients. This means that the CV of a newly-qualified accountant who has just completed their training is likely to be 1-2 pages long, whereas a Senior Manager or Director's CV is more likely to be up to 6 pages long depending on the number of moves and responsibilities they have had throughout their finance career. 2. The executive summary: lose the fluff. Put yourself in the hiring Partners shoes - what would you want to see from the CV of a potential employee? Within the first half-page, your CV should provide an overview of the most important details, including the cost and relevance of your candidacy: Your name Desired location Right to work Relevant qualifications and education Notice period Languages spoken Systems experience Promises of personal qualities are near impossible to make credible if written in the first-person. Recognise the benefits of having your CV written in the third person - using the pronouns “I”, “me”, “my”, “mine”, “our” or “we” on your CV dampens the third-party ‘sell’ before you really need to. In the niche and candidate-scarce finance market, employers are generally just not that interested in the finer details of your education. Key things to include in the education section of your CV are: Focus on the credentials themselves Grade for your degree A-Level subjects and grades Awards/scholarships Places and year of study CANDIDATE: [NAME] LOCATION: London RIGHT TO WORK: UK Citizen QUALIFICATIONS: ACA (2015) – 1st Time Passes AAT (2012) - 1st Time Passes EDUCATION: University of Sheffield BSc, Mathematics (2011): 1st Class Honours [Sixth Form College] A-Levels (2008): A - Mathematics A - Economics B - German AVAILABILITY: 3 Months (negotiable) LANGUAGES: German SYSTEMS EXPERIENCE: Sage Xero, Quickbooks and Caseware 3. Employment history: bullet-point what you did. This section should be in bullet-points for ease of accessibility, similar to the format you would ordinarily see in job specifications. Showcase your most relevant experiences and achievements, and even if you've worked at one company, be sure to show your progression internally. This section should not detail what your team did - bullet pointing what ‘you’ did means focusing on your own actions/achievements. In instances where a collaborative effort was made, the focus should be on your personal contribution to the wider effort. Include client examples and turnovers, as well as how many engagements you have led or been involved with, as this will provide insight into your working routine. In bullet pointing what you ‘did’, it is important to realise what can and cannot be demonstrated on a CV. Steer away from an emphasis what you ‘learned’, ‘developed’ or ‘demonstrated’, which are not only difficult to bring to life on a CV credibly, but are also more relevant at interview stage. Keep the content to the job you performed, responsibilities fulfilled and value-added. Your CV will often need to get past a generalist finance researcher/HR professional before even being seen by a finance specialist. Include buzzwords from the person specification, such as “IFRS”, “ACA” or “leading audits” for instance. Consider the buzzwords seen on the type of job specifications you are interested in and be sure to include those on your CV where applicable. Other general points for this section: Keep it chronological, in descending order of recency Format promotions/secondments under the same employment term where possible Include the location (city) where each position was held Consider omitting roles held prior to your beginning your formal qualification 4. The application: tailor your CV before applying. No one job or company is the same, so make sure that your finance CV is tailored to the position and firm that you are applying to, whether is this is one of the Big 4, Top 20, or a boutique firm. Highlight the main reasons you would be suitable for the position, and try to echo the organisation's corporate values and what the job specification says they are looking for throughout your application. In summary, your finance CV is first and foremost a sales document highlighting your strengths and skillsets. Ensure that it is formatted in the most easily readable and accessible manner, and make sure it plays to your strengths and is targeted to the role you are applying to. This is the case no matter the role, whether you are a Corporate Finance Associate or an Audit & Accounts Senior Manager. Last but not least, don't forget to check your spelling, grammar, and punctuation throughout. Looking for advice on tailoring your CV, options in your search, or have a request for our next blog? Contact Callum MacRae on 020 7269 6369 or firstname.lastname@example.org.