Does Your CV Stand Out?


Do you ever look at the top headlines that appear on your LinkedIn homepage? No? Well, you really should!

The stories are collated from news websites around the world and are updated throughout the day. They tend to focus mainly on  employment and the economy and are a wealth of information for the discerning job hunter who wants to stay on top of market trends and changes.

One article this week really grabbed my attention. The piece from BusinessInsider reports on the results of a study that found  that recruiter’s only spend 6 seconds on a candidate’s CV before deciding if they are suitable or not for the role at hand.

The study found that recruiters are most likely to look at eight items on a CV to assess suitability for the role; your (1) name, (2) current job title, (3) current company, (4) current position start and end dates, (5) previous title, (6) previous company, (7) previous position start and end dates, and (8) education.

Now, while we here at Accountancy Professionals wouldn’t at all agree with the suggested timeframe, preferring to give each CV a thorough read-through, those eight items listed above got us thinking; How can the candidate make the most of their CV?

So, with that in mind, we’ve put together our Top 5 CV tips. These are not your usual, run-of-the-mill tips. Rather, they are things that may not seem obvious at first but, having looked at thousands of CVs over the years, we’ve come to realise how important they can be for selling a person’s skills, expertise and relevancy for the job.


1. Have a Clear Layout

It’s always a talking point in the office when a really well put together CV lands with us. It’s not that all other CVs are bad but, it is definitely a breath of fresh air to come across a CV that looks neat and tidy and reads easily.

Choose a clear font (Times New Roman, Calibri, Arial and the likes are all good) and stick with it throughout the entire document. Only write in black. You may think that a dash of red here, and a highlight of yellow there draws attention to the important parts of your CV but, it is generally quite off-putting to the reader and, let’s face it, all of what is written on your CV should be important!

Use headings and subheadings to clearly mark the end of one section and the start of the next. This will help a recruiter or employer easily navigate through your CV and quickly find the information they are looking for.

Line spacing should be the same for the whole CV to make it easy to read. If you’re unsure what spacing to use, 1.5 tends to look the cleanest and gives a good, overall appearance to the document. Similarly, bullet points are a great way of clearly presenting a lot of information.


2. Make it Relevant

We often recommend that our candidates have multiple versions of their CV saved to suit a variety of different roles.

Making subtle changes between two or three CVs, about your experience and skills could be the difference between qualifying for a role or not. It is important to remember that, if the information isn’t on the page, the recruiter/employer won’t be aware that you meet the necessary requirements.

For instance, if you work in corporate finance and are interested in applying for a corporate finance role with an energy company that is largely financial modelling-based, you should tailor your CV to reflect any modelling experience you have as well as any previous work you have done involving energy, renewable energy etc.


3. What is the Client Looking For?

Loosely following on from our second tip, it is advised that you keep the client in mind when constructing your CV. Having read the spec and knowing the job requirements, imagine you were hiring for this job and what kind of relevant information you would want to see on an applicant’s CV.

Know what the client does, what industry they are in and what experience you could bring to the table that would set you apart from all of the other applicants and then structure your CV to highlight this.


4. Keep it Concise

How long your CV should be is a bit of a grey area. Too long, and the reader gets bored. Too short, and you risk leaving out vital information.

Generally, we recommend that a CV is 2-3 pages in length. Keeping it relevant to the role and the client as outlined in the points above, should keep your word count down and ensure that only the most important aspects of your education and career- to-date are included.

This is only a guideline however as, quite obviously, someone like a CFO will have more to incorporate into their CV than a recently qualified accountant will and, thus, the CFO’s CV may be longer than 2-3 pages.


5. Cull the Cover Letter

Traditionally, we’re taught how to compose a cover letter along with our CV. As an agency, we don’t consider cover letters necessary or particularly useful. For the most part, they tend to be a summary of what is contained in the accompanying CV and repetition is never beneficial.

However, if you don’t want to relinquish the cover letter altogether, keep it brief. A few sentences containing 2-3 selling points about yourself e.g. immediately available, suitable location, relevant qualifications, that will pique the reader’s interest and, perhaps, make them consider your CV in a different light should do the trick.


Remember; it shouldn’t be hard for a recruiter, hiring manager or potential employer to find the information they need in your CV. Keep it clear, neat and concise and structure it for the role at hand, bringing your relevant traits to the fore and allowing those less applicable to fall back.


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