Writing a great CV for a complex profession such as accounting and finance, means striking the right balance of technical complexity, industry terminology and commercial acumen. Your CV needs to reflect the right competencies and be backed up with evidence, and it also needs to work for different audiences. Although your technical ability needs to really shine, many accountants fall into the trap of documenting all the finer details of technical accounting processes.
The best accounting CVs aren’t lists of jobs, employers and technical responsibilities. They are achievement-focused personal marketing brochures that are written with a number of different audiences in mind – from an inexperienced first-stage researcher who is compiling initial shortlists, all the way to an FD or CFO who may have a wealth of financial experience.
A great way to prepare your CV to work for all these different readers is to write your document in plain, succinct English, with a focus on business outcomes, rather than the complexity of the processes. In other words, how you did something is less important than the benefit that came from it.
Because Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS) are at the cornerstone of most modern recruitment processes, it’s more important than ever that your technical accounting CV includes a host of competency keywords. A great way to ensure that your CV covers all the important keyword areas is to align your bulleted achievements to standard accounting competency frameworks. ACCA and CIMA both provide these; as you’d expect, CIMA’s framework has a management accounting bias.
Integrating technical accounting competencies from both frameworks is a great way of getting relevant keywords into your CV, while demonstrating comprehensive strengths in technical areas, without going into too much process detail.
Start each bullet with an outcome and a keyword if you can, and try to include the following technical competencies, although this is not a definitive list.
Corporate Reporting: Preparing high-quality business reports to support stakeholder decision-making; financial accounting and reporting; cost accounting and management; business planning; group accounting; corporate finance.
Financial Management: Implementing finance decisions in areas including investment appraisal, business re-organisations, tax and risk management, treasury and working capital management, to maximise value creation.
Taxation: Compliance with tax regulations; communicating with authorities to establish and manage tax liabilities; using tax computation and planning techniques.
Audit: Evaluation of information systems and internal controls; gathering evidence and performing procedures to meet audit objectives.
Governance, Risk & Control: Evaluation and implementation of risk identification procedures by designing and implementing effective internal control systems.
IT Finance Systems: Design, planning, configuration and implementation of accounting systems, or as finance lead for integrated ERP configuration.
Think about the achievements you’ve had in these areas and try to measure the outcome numerically if you can – guestimating with integrity is absolutely fine. Remember to keep the language simple so that it’s easy to read and accessible for all relevant audiences. For example, if you’ve streamlined corporate reporting and reduced man hours taken for month-end, start the bullet with that outcome, for example:
Reduced time taken for month-end by 20 man hours; streamlined corporate reporting, realigned workflow and simplified financial accounting processes.
CIMA’s framework is split into four knowledge areas; technical, business, people and leadership. The latter three are particularly relevant for accountants with more of a focus on the wider business, including management accountants, FP&A managers and finance business partners. Discussion of these areas is here.