Adam Johnston, Managing Director of Robert Half Hong Kong, on the dos and don’ts of writing an interview-landing CV
Curricula vitae (CV) are important personal documents that will always be a part of your career no matter where you go. Done well, they are your ticket to a job interview, and will edge you one step closer to securing the job you are looking for. Every candidate can write a winning CV, if the right steps are taken.
A CV is a written document of everything that relates to your work history, which can include your experience, skills, achievements, education and qualifications. It needs to be up to date, meticulously correct, and you won’t be able to secure a first interview without it.
For an accountant, it is important to sell your professionalism, precision, technical skills and strong industry relationships. Here is how to write a great CV, and give a good first impression.
“The profession is competitive, so whenever you submit a job application, you want to know that yours stands out.”
When using a template, it is vital to update the contact details to your own, and for them to be current and professional. Email addresses and mobile phone numbers are important, so it is crucial to double check these are correct and appropriate before submitting your CV.
A career objective should be a taste of what the rest of your CV has to offer. It should be bannered at the top, and set the tone for all the information and experience that is to follow. It should also broadly summarize the information in your CV, briefly mention your passions and ambitions, and run no more than two lines.
The profession is competitive, so whenever you submit a job application, you want to know that yours stands out. That means ensuring your CV is impressive, succinct and unique, while simultaneously aware of accounting sector practice and the high-level of professionalism expected by colleagues and clients.
No matter what industry you are in or what template you choose to use, it’s highly recommended to keep yours between two to three pages, and include only the most recent or relevant roles. Three or four roles should provide sufficient opportunity for you to show a prospective employer that you have the technical skills, soft skills, industry experience and initiative required to succeed in the role.
Use job or role titles that are understood at an industry level, and avoid role-specific terminology or jargon. Most importantly, make them professional. Your past and current titles give employers a sense of the professional responsibilities and duties you were tasked with in the various roles you have had, so make them easy to read and use labels that are both recognizable and credible.
It is important that when you are ready to tailor your CV template, you include keywords that appropriately summarize and celebrate your skills and experience. This can be a balancing act of selecting positive, engaging words, while avoiding overused or generic descriptors. Like job titles, they will be expected and important in showing what you can or can’t do.
Accountant CV dos
- Do keep it brief. Two or three pages is ideal.
- Acknowledge your academic and professional credentials early. These tend to be more relevant to the accounting and financial sector than other industries.
- Do include company names clearly. In finance, who you have worked for matters.
- Do call out memberships with industry-recognized bodies or organizations you’ve worked with.
- Do explain what was required of you in each role, to highlight the skills required and learned.
- Do detail your successes. If you reduced costs or increased efficiency, detail how you did it, and by how much.
- Do a thorough spelling and grammar check before submitting.
Accountant CV don’ts
- Don’t speak in general terms. Be precise, but succinct.
- Don’t think a generic CV will work. You need to tailor your CV for each role, understanding that the organizational structure, culture and duties differ with each position.
- Don’t use company-specific language or terminology. Stick to what is known and understood at an industry level.
- Don’t bend the truth, even a little bit. Be honest about your work experience and career ambitions.
- Don’t use outdated or unprofessional contact details.