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Money is at the heart of all business, and this is especially true for those working in finance. You may hold the purse strings to a multinational corporate account, you may be responsible for filing compliant accounts and public financial statements, or you may have a directorial role over the financial future and governance of the business as a whole.
No matter what level of finance job you are applying for, knowing how to write a great finance CV is essential. This is a very formal, professional discipline, and hiring managers will be looking for a candidate with the right gravitas, whether you will be working an entry-level role in a tight-knit accounts team, or taking the helm as a C-suite director of finance or CFO.
With that in mind, what's the best way to write a finance CV? In this guide we'll look at some of the general principles of CV writing that still apply, as well as how to apply those rules more specifically when applying for finance jobs.
Finance roles in general are data-driven and require excellent organisational and analytical skills - so make sure your finance CV portrays you in that light. List your key facts clearly and logically, and include data where possible.
For example, when discussing past roles and successes, give numerical values: how much money were you responsible for? How much did you save/make? Evaluate your impact in gross and percentage terms if you can.
All of this is in addition to the standard sensible rules of any well-written CV: a clear overall structure separated by larger subheadings. Minimal use of colour (black-and-white is ideal) and no cluttering images or watermarks. Choose just one or two legible fonts and use them throughout, in only a few different sizes.
If you find yourself making your text smaller and smaller to fit everything in, ask yourself what's most important and what you could leave until the interview. Your CV should put your best side forwards and include the most persuasive reasons to hire you, but it doesn't need to be completely exhaustive if you have worked in finance for a long time.
The modular nature of a CV means that, in most cases, you should be able to reverse the order of certain sections without it affecting the internal logic of the document. As such, you might want to print two versions - one with academic experience up top, and the other with career history given priority placement - and compare them to see which you prefer.
Again, for graduate roles your academic qualifications are likely to be the most important element, but you should try to include additional information that not every other graduate might be able to offer, such as any relevant internships or in-work study placements you attended.
Later in your career, your personal professional experiences, along with any accreditations (e.g. chartered status or institutional memberships) come to the fore. This makes finance CVs for senior roles less formulaic, as you look for a structure that can display this personal data in a sensible way.
Don't forget the basics: name and contact details. These can be given a small amount of space at the top of your CV, or you could choose to include more complete contact information at the end. For senior roles it's acceptable for your CV to be slightly longer, if you really feel you have a wealth of experience to include, but try to be reasonable about how many pages you fill overall.
For entry-level finance CVs, two sides of A4 is a sensible maximum (again, unless you have an unusual amount of work experience from your school years). You can make good use of your cover letter to mention anything you have been forced to leave out, and keep some of your more moderately impressive achievements to mention at interview, to show you have hidden depths beyond your CV alone.
If you have friends or colleagues who work in finance, you could ask them to give your CV a read-through and tell you if they think anything is missing, unnecessary or just sounds wrong. Even if you don't have contacts in the finance sector, you could ask anyone you know in any professional discipline or office job, especially if they are at the hiring level, as a good finance CV has many of the hallmarks of a good CV in general.
Finally, ask your recruitment advisor if you're not sure of what to say. If you have worked with the same recruitment consultant for some time, it's likely they know your strengths, and can advise you on what finance hiring managers are looking for in the current economic climate.
Once you're done, give your CV a last read through. Look for typos, formatting errors and omitted contact details. It's easy to miss something, especially when applying for multiple vacancies, but finance roles in particular rely on attention to detail, quality and compliance, so don't land on the 'reject' pile for the sake of running one last spellcheck!
Search through our library of live finance jobs across the Africa - your next finance job could just be a click away! If you want more expert advice on what your next career move should be, contact our dedicated team of finance consultants today.
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