Writing a compelling CV in a competitive jobs market

Matthew Fitzpatrick our consultant managing the role

Your CV is usually the first impression that a potential employer will have of you and your ability to do the job. Therefore, it is extremely important that your CV presents the strongest and most relevant information. It's essential for you to get across the key points in a concise and clear manner, as you often have less than five seconds to grab the reader’s attention.

Be honest

Exaggerating your responsibilities or achievements is not recommended and could greatly impact your future chances of securing a role. Never falsify dates or jobs to hide periods of unemployment, as a basic check could expose any of these hidden areas. Leaving you exposed to more questions which may ruin your chance of landing the job. Be honest, open and explain any gaps. Back it up and support the claims you make regarding responsibilities and key achievements with facts and comparative data wherever possible.

Structure

Personal details: name, address, mobile, email, visa status (if applicable).
Qualifications: professional and formal, education. Include any Specialisations, eg. Auditor within IFRS
Career highlights: short bullet point synopsis of your recent positions and achievements. Highlight anything that sells your overall strengths. Outline your work history in reverse chronological order. Where possible, include quantitative measurements of success and place an emphasis on the most relevant roles to the job you are applying for.

Your work history should be detailed with experience and achievements and should include:

  • Job title
  • Company name
  • dates employed
  • Key experience areas
  • Overview of responsibilities (5-10 bullet points depending on the seniority of the role - the greater the seniority, the more detail will be expected).
  • Achievements: List any key achievements within the role, key projects you participated in, etc.

Length is important, a maximum of two pages is preferable; your CV only needs to get you an interview. Use bullet points with your most recent experience at the top of the list. This will help to keep your CV concise and relevant to the role that you are applying for. Keep to the facts and don’t try to be funny. Other people’s sense of humor may be very different to your own and it can come across as rude or insulting. 

References

When dealing with references, you do not need to include names of your references or ‘references upon request’ at this stage. If a recruiter asks for names, ensure you have spoken to your contacts and that they are willing and able. The more senior executive, the better.

Layout

  • Keep the language simple; avoid jargon that a recruiter or employer may not understand.
  • Highlight achievements in bullet point style so that they are easy to read.
  • Do not include a photo.
  • Ensure your CV is in Word format.
  • Use a clear typeface.
  • Ensure there are no spelling mistakes or grammatical errors.
  • Any roles over 10 years ago do not need much detail.

Key things to remember

Regularly revisit your CV and update the content. Trying to remember what you did when you started your role five years ago may be difficult! Being relevant, highlight any key skills you have which are requested in the job description, these could appear on the front page as a summary. If it has been more than five years since you graduated, place your education at the bottom. If you have not finished your degree or do not have a formal qualification, explain this thoroughly. 

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We’re aware that following your ACA qualification you will be considering the next steps in your career. The newly qualified ACA job market is competitive, so differentiating yourself is essential. Download our ACA CV guide here.

12/08/20
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