The period between graduating and securing your first trainee accountant job can be a tumultuous time. With job hunting, CV writing, and interviews to face, it can be hard to know where to begin.
If number-crunching is your thing, and you’re hoping to carve out a career in the world of finance, there’s a few steps to first take before applying for jobs in the Accounting & Finance sector.
This article covers all the essential information you need for drafting an impactful CV. Whether applying for apprenticeships, full-time jobs, or one of the many accounting graduate schemes in 2020, be sure to read on.
Have a Plan of Action
With over a quarter of a million professionals in the industry (UK and Ireland), there’s plenty of opportunities for accounting and finance jobs. However, knowing where you want to be will help get you there quicker.
Before approaching potential employers and graduate recruitment agencies, give some thought to your career aspirations. Where do you want to work? What size company would you like to work for? Which locations are you willing to work in?
Also consider the type of sector you want to work in, this might be:
- Investments and pensions
- Banking and finance
- Insurance and financial planning
Once you’re clear on your goals, it’s time to start applying for jobs…
Some Housekeeping Rules
When it comes to writing a killer CV, there’s a few points to first note:
- Keep your CV to two-pages maximum. Less is fine, more isn’t.
- Choose a template that reflects your industry. Keep it professional, not gimmicky. When in doubt, Microsoft office has a host of templates.
- Chose fonts (and font size), headings and layout with consideration.
- It’s never a bad idea to tailor CVs to each job. Some graduates have two or three CVs for the different types of roles they’re applying for. This is especially true if you’re applying for a mix of full-time roles and accounting graduate schemes in 2020.
- When writing your CV, put yourself in the shoes of the person reading it. What do you think will impress them, make you stand-out, and hold their interest? Keep this your focus when writing.
- It goes without saying – spellcheck your CV several times before pressing save.
- Finally, and most important of all, keep information succinct and informative, avoiding clichés and hyperbole.
1. Writing your CV
The key to writing a polished CV, is to include everything a recruiter wants to see in a clear way, highlighting your unique skills and some personality. This will help your application stand out from the crowd.
Start with a Summary
The first thing a recruiter should see on your CV is a brief summary. This should be no longer than 50-60 words, so keep it punchy. Even if you have limited experience, you can show off your skillset. For instance:
“A bright and conscientious finance graduate with a keen eye for detail. Skilled in cloud based technologies and trained in the latest finance software.”
Your Career Summary
Depending on how much experience you have, your career history should come before qualifications, or vice-versa if you don’t have any relevant experience.
To get a feel for your audience, look at other finance graduate CVs, as well as job descriptions to see what terms and buzzwords appear. For instance, accounting and finance jobs tend to require candidates with good; analytic skills, attention to detail, IT skills, and familiarity with certain bodies such as UK GAAP. This section can be tweaked accordingly to fit the different roles you apply for.
Just remember, this is an opportunity to list out relevant jobs, and not the paper-round you had growing up!
Your career history can be written out accordingly:
- Job title, company name, location
- Start and end dates
- Responsibilities (summarised into bitesize chunks)
Here’s an example:
September 2018 – September 2019 Audit Intern (work placement) | Audit Ltd | Birmingham
- Assisted in internal auditing process, rolling-out new compliance guidelines and procedures, as part of best practice
- Worked with the IT team on data protection management. This involved updating records for auditing and documenting purposes
- Attended training for SQL based queries, as well as latest legal compliance regulations
Qualifications and Education
Whether you’re applying for accounting and finance graduate schemes in London, or full-time accounting roles in Glasgow, this section remains largely unchanged. Essentially, it should list your education, starting with the most recent first.
Here’s a good order to follow:
- Name your course and university/college. You may want to include dates and qualification gained
- Mention any specific courses you majored in that might be useful, such as specific finance training like investment funding or risk and compliance
- Highlight distinctions, recognitions and awards
GCSE and A-Levels
- Start with the school/college you attended with dates
- List A-levels (or equivalent), stating grades obtained
- There’s no need to list all GCSEs gained. These should be summarised, such as 10 x A-C grades, but be sure to highlight Maths and English.
As your experience grows, so will this section. This should only be a brief few lines, outlining any other useful qualifications, memberships or teams you’re involved in. This also includes a ‘full clean drivers licence’ and any additional courses you’ve been on to bolster your finance and accountancy skills. In an industry that is ever-changing, with new practices all the time, it’s useful to demonstrate how you keep up-to-date with the industry, even for entry-level trainee accountant jobs.
Some candidates say that this is the hardest part of writing a finance graduate CV, since they’re unsure of what to say. When in doubt, keep this brief and professional. Think of team sports, individual pursuits and clubs you’re involved in, that show another side of your character. If you can, try and include any references that might be appropriate to your industry, such as mentoring finance students.
For this section, you can either put ‘references available upon request’, or list one reference, including their job title and email address. It goes without saying that you should ask their permission first.
2. Writing a Strong Cover Letter
Good news, you’ve written your finance graduate CV and you’re ready to go. Well, not quite – there’s still one more thing to do; your covering letter.
Do not underestimate how important a cover letter is when submitting applications. Hiring mangers receive hundreds of these all the time, so you’ll need to work hard to ensure yours makes a positive impression.
Employers and graduate recruitment agencies will recommend that you tailor these to each job. Rightly so, creating a personalised well-considered letter will make you stand out.
Here’s how to structure the letter:
Start with a strong introduction that grabs their interest. Provide a quick summary about yourself and why you’re especially interested in this role. Try and do some research on the company and mention this in the copy if appropriate.
For instance; “I notice your company was recently voted by The Guardian as a top firm, offering an attractive accounting and finance graduate scheme…”
Next, move on to talking about why you’re the perfect fit for the role, and how you can add value to the team. Draw on past experience, personal interests and even the company’s brand reputation to show your passion.
Try to avoid being repetitive, but do reference some of your key strengths here too.
Provide a quick summary, mentioning your CV attached and your next availability.
If you’re an accounting and finance graduate looking for roles in the industry, then give yourself the best chance, with a robust CV and cover letter. It can take time and various iterations before you feel happy, but it’s very much worth it in the end!
To ensure you have checked your CV step-by-step and created the best accounting CV possible, read our latest graduate CV guide.
The post Writing a graduate CV for the Accounting & Finance sector appeared first on Milkround.