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Time to Take a Fresh Look at That CV!

Recruiters, HR professionals and hiring managers are back from their summer breaks. People are in the office and ready to go. Good job you’ve got your CV in good shape, right?

Don’t panic – we’ve got you covered. Here are our top tips to bringing that CV up to speed!

#1 Prioritise content and use of white space

Only write about what is important. No need to have half a page dedicated to your part-time job in Uni. If you’re senior, focus on detailing out the last 3-4 roles, or 10 years, and summarise your earlier training and foundational finance roles. If you’re more junior, don’t fall into the trap of ‘fluff’. Yes, competencies are important, so you can fill out your roles by demonstrating skills like relationship management, building relationships with stakeholders and providing advice to non-finance managers, but don’t make something out of nothing. Keep it precise, to the point, but don’t write an essay about being ‘hard-working’ and ‘driven’ – these are superfluous adjectives that won’t make you stand out from the crowd.

#2 Detail your achievements

This is the bit most people struggle with, but it is absolutely key to backing your application up. The more senior you get, the easier this will be, as you will have more impact on business outcomes. If you’re a NQA Accountant with no ‘set’ targets or project work – think about examples of where you may have gone above and beyond, or ‘fixed’ something that was not working – for example, preparing a new template to make an aspect of your job and/or the team’s job easier. Or, proactively flagging a repetitive system issue to IT and working with them to fix it.

#3 Create a profile that emphasises your value proposition

Most people skip an introduction section, or include an ‘objective’ instead. Think about it. A company isn’t going to hire you on the basis of titles, or because they read that you want to ‘find a challenging role with scope to progress to a CFO’. However, their eyes will light up if you instead talk about your ability to use your experience to their advantage, e.g. ‘Experienced in the creation of automated dashboard reporting to drive business performance across non-finance divisions including sales and service.’

If you’re having trouble identifying your strengths or value proposition, think through your achievements. Where have you had the most impact, or been commended most emphatically? Was there a business problem you solved, or did something you identify or deliver have an impact on top or bottom line performance? Maybe you know you’re naturally better at something than your peers? Ultimately, you need to show you can add value, or drive benefit through the skill set you’re bringing to the table.

#4 Keep it neat, unfussy and no longer than 2 pages. 3 pages max if you’re a CFO/FD.

Formatting must be modern and slick, but don’t focus on flashy charts and boxes over content. In fact, highly formatted documents can be tricky for recruiters to use, so keep it clean, neat and in Word. Needless to say, spelling and grammar mistakes are an absolute ‘no’ so focus on getting this side of things perfect, rather pouring over your colour palettes.

#5 Check for key words and phrases

In all likelihood, your CV will be going into a recruiter database, which they will then use to search for ideal applicants. You’re more likely to be found if you have the types of search terms they’re looking for, so make sure you cross-reference the language you see commonly used in tasks/skills/experience required for jobs with your own resume. If it doesn’t ‘fit’ nicely into your CV, it’s OK to create a grid or bullet point section to detail your key financial or system competencies. Just ensure they’re captured somewhere on that document.

Good luck!

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