There is no official way to present your CV and work experience when you are searching for your next opportunity. However, please see below for a few simple recommendations on how to get the best out of every application that you make. All that really matters is how clearly you can explain your professional experience to a stranger.
General advice to make your CV stand out is to make sure that the duties of your job description are concise bulletpoints and in sentence form. Having a list of vague terms and words will not give potential employers an insight into your experience. Do not write:
This will not help employers understand what it is that you can do for them. If you saw a job description this ambiguous, you would have more questions than answers when applying. Instead, if invoicing is an aspect of your role, consider:
It also helps to list your duties in order of relevance, making sure your career history is in reverse chronological order, with the most recent experience first. This will help outline the nature of your work and how it is applicable to the role that you are applying for. Moreover, every role that you apply for is different. Although you must never give false information in an application (this is very serious), focusing your attention on key aspects of an application is definitely a worthwhile exercise.
Use numbers. They are more accurate and objective than descriptions about being “Enthusiastic” or believing yourself to be “Numerical”. If you work in Credit Control, for example, let employers know how much debt you have cleared over a specific period of time. Make a note of targets that you have to meet as part of your work. If have met 90% of your targets, then let the reader know. This gives your audience a sense of the volumes that you deal with. It should also help cut down the number of bulletpoints you have to no more than 6 or 9, depending on your level of experience. This can also simplify complex information, making it naturally more readable and relevant.
As a rule, employers are looking for consistency in the presentation of information. The accuracy of the information on your CV is more important but it helps to make it clear to avoid confusion. So when writing about numbers, it is best to use them in number format (e.g. “£30,000/100 invoices/team of 6/etc.”). Ensure the font of the text is the same throughout and feel free to use bold lettering and upper case letters to help with the layout of your career history. When writing the dates and names of employers make sure that they are accurate and presented and consistently. Furthermore, a CV is a formal representations of your professional self, therefore never use shorthand contractions (“I am” and never “I’m”) or symbols for abbreviations such as &, +, or @. However, for roles in finance the use of £, $, €, ¥, etc. are acceptable.
Always avoid repeating information. Employers will notice when they see the same aspects of your duties included more than once. If you have worked in similar roles but with different companies, then give specific details to help differentiate between the roles. This is where including numbers, data, statistics, processes, systems and percentages can help your application stand out. The greatest challenge for your CV is getting across that you are a versatile individual without having to say: “I am a versatile individual”.
Only include relevant information. When writing reports or delivering presentations in your next role, you must be able to demonstrate how you can prioritise information and economise space. When applying for a role in finance – perhaps for the first time – then you only need to highlight information that relates to financial work experience. Part-time jobs as a student in roles such as retail or bar work can be mentioned but your duties within the role should not be prioritised. Instead, focus you attention on projects and provide tangible examples of how your skills are useful for a role.
All other aspects of the CV need to be specific to get across your suitability. Personal statements are not always necessary. In fact, you only really need to include one if you have to specify why you are looking to move into a particular industry/position. This should take a maximum of 3 sentences to do. It should be punchy and straight to the point. In addition, a “Hobbies and Interests” section can be included. A few interesting bits of information can help break the ice at the interview. However… how can I put this? Keep it PG.
Every aspect of your CV has to be rather formal and objective. It is not an opportunity to get across subjective descriptions of how you have a “keen eye for detail” or that you “work well in both teams and individually.” Every sentence of information must address how it informs potential employers that you have the right kind of experience or transferable skills for a role. This also means that CV’s are not the place to include any jokes or humour. A photo or a Twitter handle have no place in an application. The use of over the top graphics and colourful layouts are definitely best avoided as they are either unprofessional or borderline distracting.
Ultimately, with some work experience, the relevant skills that you need for an application are all readily available. The golden rule is ensuring that every sentence is logical and understandable.
With one final grammar and spell check, your CV should be ready for the job market! I hope this helps you get the most out of every application that you make. All the best with your job search.