The first impression I get when looking at this CV is that it is chaotic and inconsistent. Some words are in capital letters with no evident need to be, others – for example, months of the year – are missing a capital letter at the beginning. Some sections have headings, others do not. Some sections have been missed off the CV entirely.
So, as a rough guide, when composing a CV, try to include the following sections – preferably (but not necessarily) in this order:
- Name and any qualifications as the main heading, in bold. For example: Ken Dodd, ACCA
- Personal Details
- Personal Profile
- Work Experience/History
- Key Skills/Additional Skills/IT Skills
You have provided full personal details – name, contact telephone number, email address, and residential address. This is a positive, I can’t count the number of CVs we receive each week that don’t include a residential address or, at times, even a city. As you can imagine, this makes matching the candidate with suitable roles in their location very difficult indeed!
A lot of people are now including a link to their LinkedIn profile on their CVs If you have a LinkedIn account, it’s worth including on your CV. It gives both the impression of transparency as well as suggesting you are IT-capable.
I assume this is intended to be a personal profile:
“To work in a challenging environment with a world class spirit where knowledge and skill will be put to maximum use.”
However, there is no heading, so it’s impossible to be sure. Use headings throughout your CV for every individual section. Not only does it look more organised but it makes it much easier for the firm or recruiter to scan if they’re searching for something specific.
There are two key elements to a personal profile:
- Who you are
- What you’re looking for
Your personal profile seems to focus on the latter while completely missing out the former. It is also very wishy-washy. What constitutes a “world-class spirit”? What knowledge and skills are you hoping will be put to maximum use?
An example of a concise personal profile would be:
“An experienced Accountant and Executive Marketer with 15 years of professional experience in the food, medical, and engineering industries, looking for a challenging new role in an accountancy firm that will allow me to build on my existing financial skills.”
Also include any other specifics you’re looking for – e.g. a part-time or freelance role.
Again, there’s no heading for this section, so while it’s clear from the detail that you’re referring to your education, adding a heading will make it easier to pick out for those reading it.
You only need to include the bare bones for each entry in your education section:
- Place of study
- Years of study
The result is important. If you’ve studied for a degree and not specified which class of degree you were awarded, the interviewer will assume it was a poor result and that’s why you haven’t included it. So, if you did well, say so.
If you’re currently studying towards a qualification – for example, the ACCA/ACA/CIMA for Accountants – then include this here too, along with how far into the course you are and what you have left to complete.
There is a heading here, which is good. It’s in capital letters and bold too, which makes it easy to read and pick out. Each role has:
- The name of the firm
- The dates you worked there – both month and year, which is a plus as many CVs only include the year.
- Your job title
This is also good – just make sure that you capitalise the months of the year and put all of the above information in bold to make it stand out.
You have also used bullet points to list your duties and responsibilities, which is another positive. However, the information given is far too brief. For your most recent role – a position that lasted for 9 years – you have included only 3 bullet points. There should be a far more detailed breakdown of the work involved, particularly as this was your latest role. It’s acceptable to keep it brief for older or less relevant roles but not for such a lengthy and recent position.
In terms of the bullet points themselves, the amount of information contained in each one is fine. Providing a more detailed breakdown means breaking the role down into smaller parts (and more bullet points) not increasing the amount of information in each bullet point.
Finally, you have ordered your work history from the oldest to the newest – this should be the other way round, so that your most recent position is the first one outlined.
Key Skills/Additional Skills/IT Skills
You have included a section entitled “Core Competence” which outlines a mishmash of skills you have. However, it’s badly organised and flits back and forth between various types of skills. Essentially, across the broad range of CVs we’ve seen, there tends to be three distinct skills sections:
This is usually a brief, bullet pointed list of the tasks you are capable of carrying out, for example:
- Self-Assessment Tax Returns
This usually includes skills outside of the key skills – for example:
- Languages – French (native speaker), English (fluent), German (advanced)
- Driving licence – Full, clean
- Certified First Aider – First Aid at Work Certificate
- IT – MS Office, Sage Line 50, Xero
However, if you have extensive IT skills – or if the roles you are applying for place an emphasis on IT skills – then these should go in a separate section.
While there’s no right or wrong way to list the various software systems you have experience of, it makes sense to put together, for example, all the accounting software packages:
- MS Office
- SalesForce CRM
- Sage Line 50
- VT Transaction
You have not included a Hobbies and Interests section on your CV. While on the face of it this might not seem particularly important – why would a potential employer care what you get up to out of hours? – in reality, it might make all the difference. If the firm has received a large amount of applications with similar levels of experience, then adding some flavour to your CV via an Interests section could be the very thing that makes you stand out. It’s always worth letting a potential interviewer know who you are behind the CV and demonstrating that you have a life outside of the office.
It’s important to strike the right balance when putting together your Interests section. Too brief and you’ll end up with a meaningless list of generic interests like this:
However, by adding just a little extra information, you can give a much better impression of who you are:
- Reading both literary fiction as well as non-fiction books – I have a particular interest in European history and neuropsychology.
- I run several times a week and have taken part in marathons in three different countries.
- Socialising with friends – I particularly enjoy hosting dinner parties as it gives me a chance to put into practice the culinary skills learnt during cookery classes.
Be careful not to include too much detail, however. Employers are looking to get a sense of who you are, not your life story.
Your CV contains no mention of references at all. While you don’t need to include names/contact details if you prefer not to, you do need to include it as a section. So, your options are:
- List two referees (including one from your most recent role) with the following information: Referee’s name, the name of the firm, referee’s job title, and their contact details; or
- Just a quick line to say you are happy to provide references if requested, for example: References available upon request.
Review by Emma Ireland, our resident expert accountancy recruitment consultant.
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