Regardless of the debate around the number of people currently pursuing financial services positions, two things are certain: there are thousands of financial services CVs available on CV databases, and any recruiter advertising a job has to trawl through many hundreds of them every single day.
This being so, how can you ensure that your CV isn’t consigned to a life of oblivion?
1) Use key words
If you send your CV to a recruiter, it will probably end up on a CV database. Alternatively, you can always load your CV onto a CV database directly.
Once your CV is on the database, it will be extracted by recruiters who have searched for key words. If your CV does not contain the correct key words, it will therefore not be found. Conversely, the key words your CV contains, the greater the chance that it will NOT languish in obscurity.
“I’m looking for people to fill finance roles,” says Elan Diamond, manager of the permanent banking team at recruitment firm Marks Sattin. “Therefore, I will be looking for finance and accounting-related terminology and industry recognised terms on the CV.”
As an example, Diamond says applicants for accounting roles should be mentioning qualifications like the ACA, or experience in areas like IFRS, both of which are popular search terms.
Needless to say, you should only mention key words if they actually apply to your achievements and experiences. One senior in-house recruiter says candidates have a tendency to insert key words, even when they’re not relevant.
“Candidates might write, ‘I worked with a project manager,’ so that they ensure the words ‘project manager’ are included in their CV and that it will come up in database searches for project management roles,” he reflects. If you do this, you will get a bad name.
2) Cut the guff
Related to the key words trick, do not bury your achievements in a mountain of waffle. If you do, it is unlikely that your CV will be unearthed on a database search, ever.
“If you’ve been a management accountant, or a financial accountant, say that,” says Diamond. “You need to use those particular words, rather than saying something like, “I was responsible for putting together a range of information for use in management-related reports.”
3) Keep it short
CVs need to be short. The recruiters we spoke to for this article said they read 200+ CVs each day. They do not want to read epic descriptions of your life to date.
“As a rule of thumb, the more verbose the covering letter, the longer the personal statement, and the more long winded a CV, the less suitable the candidate,” says James Heath at Greenwich Partners.
“The CV needs to be a simple one page Word file. Academics, and a clear description of your recent position and previous experience are all that’s required,” Heath adds.
4) Mirror the job specification
If you’re sending in your CV in application for a particular job, then guess what? It will help to adapt it to the job in question.
In particular, it will help to read the job specification in detail, to think about what’s being asked, and to adapt your CV to try and reflect the fact that you’ve got the experience requested (if you haven’t, it’s not worth applying). Look at the words being used to describe the skills required in the advertisement. Use these in your CV.
“I’m currently advertising for a project management role,” says one recruiter. “However, it’s a project management role which requires properties management experience. This is clear in the job spec, but I’m getting hundreds of applications from IT project managers who’ve clearly read no further than the title.”
5) Keep updating it
When recruiters are searching job boards for CVs, they are usually given the option of filtering CVs based on how recently those CVs were updated/uploaded. This being the case, it’s worth uploading your CV
every day every month to make sure you’re not at the bottom of the pile.
Alternatively, if you’ve sent your CV to a recruiter, it might be sufficient just to keep calling them up. “We are able to sort CVs on our database according to how recently we’ve spoken to candidates,” says one recruiter. “Every call a candidate makes to us is registered, and the more recent the activity, the higher the CV will appear on a search that’s filtered by date.”
When tricks are a waste of time
Bear in mind, however, that no matter how many tricks you pull, they won’t work if you’re applying for jobs which you have no experience for, or you’re not the right academic calibre.
“Unless the skills, the relevant experience, and the academics are there, you haven’t got a chance,” says Heath. “No amount of dressing up a CV can compensate for a lack of the core competencies a client requires.”