If you want an accounting job - either with the Big Four or in an accounting role in an investment bank, you will need to craft your CV (or resume) carefully. Accounting is an an increasingly complex and dynamic business environment and you need to market yourself carefully.
In my experience, every accountant wants their technical ability to really shine on their CV. That’s understandable. But many fall into the trap of simply documenting all the finer details of technical accounting processes, without putting it into context for the reader. You need to remember that your CV is a marketing document: you need to sell yourself, and you need to write for an audience that may not be an accountant (or aspiring accountant!) like yourself.
1. Your accounting resume needs to get past the applicant tracking system (ATS)
The first thing you need to do is to get your CV past the robots. - These are the so called applicant tracking systems which typically check your resume to make sure it contains the next skills before passing it to the next stage. If the ATS can't find the right words, your resume won't get past first base.
To ensure your CV covers all the important keyword areas, 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.- CIMA’s framework is split into four knowledge areas; technical, business, people and leadership. The latter three are particularly relevant for accountants who are interested in wider business roles. These include management accountants, FP&A managers and finance business partners.
2. Structure your CV as bullet points and add the right keywords
The best way to structure your CV is as a series of bullet points. Each bullet needs to describe what you achieved. Start each one with an outcome that was beneficial to the business and a keyword if you can. Try to include the following technical competencies (although this isn't definitive!).
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 to maximise value creation in areas including investment appraisal, business re-organisations, tax and risk management, treasury and working capital management.
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: Designing, planning, configurating and implementing accounting systems, or as finance lead for integrated ERP configuration.
3. Think hard about your numbers
For each of your bullet point achievements, think carefully about what you did and try to reflect the outcome in a way that can be measured numerically. ‘Guestimating’ with integrity is absolutely fine. Remember to keep the language simple, so it’s easy to read and accessible for all relevant audiences!
Victoria McLean is the CEO of City CV, an award-winning international CV writing and career consultancy. She was previously a recruiter at Goldman Sachs and the equities division of Bank of America Merrill Lynch.