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What Makes The Perfect CV? Advice From Experts!

We asked recruitment experts 4 questions to find out what to keep in mind when writing a CV, elements to include to make it stand out!

Shortlisting candidate resume

When it comes to advancing your career, a good CV is key to promoting your knowledge and experience. However, it can be difficult to craft a CV that stands out from the crowd and does your career justice. 

We asked recruitment experts 4 key questions to find out key things to keep in mind when writing a CV, elements to include to make it a good one and things to avoid. 

Read on for some great CV advice from the experts in the know!  

1. What are 3 key things people should keep in mind when writing a CV? 

Robert HalfMatt Weston | Managing Director, Robert Half UK

matt weston

When writing your CV ensure you match your technical accounting skills and qualifications to the job description, showcase your soft skills and use active verbs to convey your achievements in a compelling way.

As hiring managers often only briefly scan your CV, emphasise your skills and abilities in prominent places on your CV where they will be easily noticed.

A good accountancy CV will showcase your soft skills. As your relevant work history may be limited at the start of your career, soft skills can convey your potential to add value to the business.

Also, highlight any projects or tasks where you have demonstrated the soft skills hiring managers value such as strong business and commercial acumen, effective communication skills, problem-solving skills and adaptability.

Standout-cv.comAndrew Fennell | Director

Andrew fennel

  1. Always tailor it to the position you’re applying for. No two jobs are the same, so no two CVs should be the same! For every application you submit, spend time reading the job description, reviewing requirements and getting a feel for the company through their website.
  2. Look at your CV from a recruiter’s perspective: Your CV might look impressive to you, but what would a busy recruiter think? With piles of applications and limited time, they appreciate CVs that are easy to read with a clear structure and format. It’s also important to remember that a recruiter may only read the top section of your CV before deciding to read it in full, so you need to get your key selling points out there from the get-go — creating a profile and core skills list is a great tactic for this!
  3. Focus on hard facts and evidence: It’s important to showcase the value you could bring to a team by incorporating hard facts, tangible examples and evidence in your CV. What results, achievements and accomplishments did you gain in your previous roles or contracts? Where possible, these should be quantified with facts and figures to give employers a better idea of your impact.

Giveagradago.comSam Hickson | Senior Recruitment Consultant

Sam Hickson

  1. When it comes to recruitment, there’s nothing worse than seeing someone use the same CV for every job they apply to. Repeatedly using the exact same CV indicates that the candidate hasn’t taken the time to research the job they are applying for.
  2. Short gaps on your CV aren’t usually a cause for concern, but when these gaps start to add up or stretch out, it can be a red flag to an employer.
  3. Your CV shouldn’t ever be over two pages, especially as a graduate. Rather than listing every skill you have and every exam you’ve taken, stick to the most relevant and attractive qualities.

2. What makes a good CV?

Lincoln Recruitment SpecialistsMatthew Roberts, Principal Consultant – Accounting

Matthew Roberts

The Visual Your CV needs to stand out at a quick glance to gain the hiring manager or recruiters interest. This takes a lot of effort (hours) to get a well laid out and formatted CV. There is no quick fix, it’s an extension of how you want to be seen in written format.

Content – Ensure to put in the basics:

  • Name, Address, Email, Phone, LinkedIn
  • Personal Profile – Brief (4 or 5 sentences)
  • Academics – Education, Professional Qualifications, Additional Diplomas/IT Courses etc.
  • Employment History / Experience
  • Hobbies / Interests – Brief

Simplicity – In my opinion it’s the simplest CV that is the most powerful. Try to stick to 2/3 pages:

  • Clear and precise sections, use Bullet Points to explain employment history
  • Spelling – This can be the difference between an interview request and a rejection. Put in the effort to ensure good grammar, punctuation and spelling. Always get a second person to review it.
  • Do not duplicate experience. Do not show the same experience in multiple previous roles. i.e. management accounts shown in three previous roles. Only show the experience in the most relevant role.
  • Can a stranger understand your CV? Is it obvious the experience and dates of employment in 10-15 seconds? If not then it’s not simple enough, you have a small window to grab someone’s attention make it count.

Standout-cv.comAndrew Fennell | Director 

A good CV should be tailored to the target role and packed with relevant (relevancy is key!) skills, experience, results and accomplishments.

It should be clear and concise — no more than 2 pages of A4 — made up of short, sharp and snappy sentences. It should also look professional, with a clear and easy-to-navigate structure.

What makes a good CV?

Giveagradago.comSam Hickson | Senior Recruitment Consultant

One of the things that makes a good CV is to tailor it to the specific job role.

Read the job description and tailor your CV so that you mention any skills and experience that are relevant, instead of just listing everything.

It’s good to have a template for your CV, but you should be making changes for each job that you apply for.

3. What mistakes should people avoid when writing a CV?

Icecream wasted

Robert HalfMatt Weston | Managing Director, Robert Half UK

A common mistake jobseekers often make on their CV is embellishing their achievements or making over-exaggerated claims.

In recent research, 37% of hiring managers realised they had hired the wrong person for the job because the new employee was found to have lied on their CV.

If you have limited experience, write a strong personal statement or outline your achievements outside of work to effectively reinforce your CV without the need for embellishment.

A winning CV must be free from spelling and grammar mistakes. Simple typos and grammatical errors can signal to potential employers that you lack attention to detail – a key skill for accountants even if it isn’t included in the job description.

Standout-cv.comAndrew Fennell | Director

  • Lack of research: The content of your CV should be based on thorough research and the contents of the job description — otherwise, it’ll be complete guess work and you’ll be setting yourself up for failure.
  • Too many clichés: There’s no denying that statements like’Innovative, results-driven thought leader’sound fancy — but they don’t have a place in your CV. Recruiters generic statements time and time again but have no reason to believe them. Try to avoid them if you can, and focus on hard facts and achievements instead.
  • Writing too much: Unless you’re applying for an academic position, your CV shouldn’t be longer than 2 sides of A4. Recruiters don’t have time to read pages and pages of information — your aim should be to get your key selling points across in as few words as possible.

Giveagradago.comSam Hickson | Senior Recruitment Consultant

Don’t include too many graphics. Unless you are applying for a creative role, pictures should be kept to a minimum or avoided entirely. For example, rating yourself out of 10 should be avoided altogether.

Quite often people forget to put their years of experience on their CV. Employers will want to know the amount of years you were at University and how long you’ve worked for.

Lincoln Recruitment SpecialistsMatthew Roberts, Principal Consultant – Accounting

  • Over embellishing on experience/exposure to certain areas. This will nearly always come out in the interview and it’s only going to be to the detriment of the interviewee.
  • Amending dates and if a previous/current role was a contract or permanent. Again, this can come out at the reference stage and undo all the good work done in an interview.
  • Too much detail, going onto multiple pages can be a turn off. As mentioned before, keep it simple.

4. How can an accounting professional make their CV stand out?

Odd one out unique

Giveagradago.comSam Hickson | Senior Recruitment Consultant

Accountancy roles are often very detailed and data orientated, so their skill section should be very clear.

Know what makes a great employee for an accounting role and refer to this in your CV. They should specifically state what software, qualifications and responsibilities they’ve had. Try not to waffle on your CV.

List your qualifications, when you have had exams and exemptions through your degree.

Robert HalfMatt Weston | Managing Director, Robert Half UK

Due to continually evolving skills sets employers have come to increasingly value a candidates’ soft skills and potential to grow within the role, over technical skills and qualifications.

A research found that 57% of hiring managers place more weight on soft skills when making a hiring decision.

Clodagh OBrien
7 min read

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