How to Write an Accountant CV
Accountancy is a profession that is continually diversifying, as the economic world becomes increasingly complex. You therefore need a professional CV that shows an employer how you can add value.
Accountants can work in private practice, providing services to fee-paying clients or they can work directly within an organisation. When you are writing your Accountant's CV you need to tailor your CV depending on what type of accountant jobs you are aiming for next.
For example a small private practice may just prepare the accounts for freelancers and small businesses. Whilst, larger private accountancy firms might deal with far larger commercial organisations and businesses, extending their services into areas of consultancy on improving the business's finances, advising on mergers and acquisitions, as well as financial processes.
Accountants are more likely to develop specialisations when working for larger consultancy firms (or directly within a large organisation / business) and may wish to pursue other specialist accounting jobs positions. Individual accountants who have been working with small businesses might wish to apply for positions with the bigger accountancy firms.
If you are in this situation, your Accountant's CV must communicate a broad range of knowledge, as well as the individual attributes required to work with different clients and undertake analysis of their financial situations. It must highlight considerable knowledge of corporate finance and the accounting function and its processes.
Writing your own CV can be quite a challenge, even with our guide for your Accountant's CV. If you prefer, why not let us do all the hard work for you by using our CV service. Take a look at what we have to offer and discover how we can help you to obtain that exceptional Accountant's CV.
What Should You Include on an Accountant CV?
The accountant who works in the smaller consultancy or as an individual in private practice provides a range of services. Their primary tasks can include some or all of the following:
- Producing annual and monthly accounts.
- Maintaining accounting records.
- Filing tax returns and providing advice on taxation matters.
- Compiling financial statements, plans and reports.
- Completing independent audits of company accounts for registered companies.
- Assisting clients in the management of their expenditure, costs, income, payroll, etc.
- Advising clients on tax liabilities, planning and issues.
- Forecasting profits and providing input on budgets.
- Liaising with clients (individuals or businesses) and responding to queries.
- Reviewing financial systems and processes through checks and tests.
- Dealing with insolvency.
The accountant working in a larger consultancy might also want to include the following on their CV:
- Liaising with auditors, both internal and external.
- Producing reports and making recommendations as a result of audit findings.
- Analysing and evaluating financial situation of companies and making reports for management.
- Advising on treasury issues and investment management.
Characteristics You Need to Demonstrate on a CV for an Accountant
In the UK, chartered accountants are usually fully qualified with the ACCA (Association of Chartered Certified Accountants), CIMA (Chartered Institute of Management Accountants), or ACA (Associate of the Institute of Chartered Accountants).
A CV for an accountant needs to demonstrate the core accountancy skills coupled with sufficient knowledge of business administration to work closely with private business clients. You need to demonstrate and provide evidence of some or all of the following on your CV:
- Meticulous accounting skills and knowledge of procedures and accounting practices, with awareness of updates.
- Strong mathematical and IT skills.
- High level of analytical skills, with ability to see broader financial picture.
- Ability to communicate financial complexities clearly to managers.
- Experience of developing financial policy and procedure.
- Techniques for improving financial processes and streamlining systems.
- Experience of liaising with regulatory representatives and professionals in external organisations.
- Understanding of the UK's accounting laws and regulations.
Personal attributes demonstrated on an accountant CV should include:
- A logical, methodical approach, with good attention to detail.
- Strong time management skills required to work on different contracts.
- Effective team working skills.
- Good interpersonal skills to liaise with managers of different organisations and companies.
- Excellent written and verbal communication skills for the preparation of and delivery of reports and analyses.
- Integrity, discretion and good understanding of reasons for confidentiality.
- Resourcefulness and ability to work alone.
What are an Employer's Concerns for an Accountant CV?
When reviewing Accountants' CVs, an employer is interested in making an appointment that stands the best chance of succeeding. Put another way, that means avoiding an appointment where risk is involved. The employer's concerns are:
- Can this accountant contribute to this organisation's financial health and stability?
- Can they contribute to the development of a successful financial strategy?
- Can this accountant assist in building the organisation by establishing optimal accounting processes?
- If they are of a high enough calibre, how soon can they make a difference and will their contribution continue in the form of future growth?
- Is this person totally dependable, with impeccable professional standards?
You need to address all of these questions in your Accountant's CV. They must be supported with evidence of your performance to date, ensuring that the employer believes that your work will help to consolidate the organisation as it moves forward.
This means that you have to sell yourself by addressing the employer's concerns in every line of your accounting CV, while providing more information to show that you are not only a suitable candidate for the position, you are the best candidate, and that you should definitely be invited to interview.
To do this, you need to target your CV to each employer you apply to. This means doing your research and understanding their organisational objectives before applying, so that your Accountant CV is an informed and focused document.
Capture Attention with Your Accountant's CV Profile
You only have 30 seconds within which to impress an employer before they add your CV to the shortlist or reject pile.
You therefore need to capture the employer's attention in that first half minute.
Sited at the top of your Accountant CV, the Profile is your ideal opportunity to do this, by presenting a high impact 'snapshot' of your application that motivates the employer to read on.
In your Profile, you can highlight your greatest strengths and attributes, plus areas of experience. By ensuring that these are always entirely relevant to the vacancy, you can encourage the employer to read on and, hopefully, decide to interview you.
In your accounting CV, the strengths that are required are typical of many positions: accounting processes, taxation law in the UK, financial planning and strategy development, and producing budgets and reports.
What the employer would like to know is how you fit into their organisation above and beyond these areas. So, how many years of accounting experience do you have (and with which accounting qualification - ACA, ACCA, CIMA), which kind of organisations have you experience of, and how similar was your previous accounting experience to the vacancy in terms of the organisation's activities, size, turnover, departmental scale?
All these questions present you with information that can be included, briefly, in your Profile.
In addition to these experience areas, you can further sell yourself by highlighting three or four key accounting strengths, whether skills areas or personal attributes. What do you bring to your work? The wisest approach is to focus on those areas that are uppermost in the employer's information about the vacancy.
Be prepared to rewrite your Profile so that it aligns with the priorities of every employer you send your CV to.
Hit Home with Powerful Achievements on Your Accountant CV
Hopefully, you have now captured the employer's attention with your accounting Profile. Next, you need to really convince them to shortlist you by impressing them with a list of achievements on your CV.
Backed up with convincing figures, your achievements should provide quantitative evidence of your previous experience by showing, in measurable terms, how you assisted client companies and organisations with their finances and taxation.
Achievements on an Accountant's CV add a bit more detail to the 'snapshot' by presenting you as an individual and differentiating you from other candidates. Strong achievements that are relevant to the vacancy will help the employer to envisage what you might do for their organisation if appointed. In this respect, they are enormously motivating.
How do you ensure achievements do what they are required to do and win you an interview? You can create high impact achievements by focusing on what you did in a job, rather than what was in the job description.
What did you do and what was the positive outcome?
Some people suggest thinking in terms of Situation, Action and Results (SAR). What really matters is the quantification, i.e. the provision of numerical measurement that allows the employer to get a real sense or picture of what you did and the scale of your results. For example:
- Enhanced profile of finance to match new industry requirements, reducing finance cost by 25%.
Always remember that the employer wants to know whether you can do the same for them, so your achievements (and indeed your entire Accountant's CV) should always be communicating 'I could do this for you, too'. Note that negative circumstances, such as liquidation of a company, can still yield positive achievements in terms of how you handled a challenge.
Five or six strong achievements should be included, ensuring that these reflect the employer's priorities as closely as possible. In conjunction with your Profile, the Achievements section on your Accountant's CV can really set you apart, before the employer has even considered your previous jobs.
Others may have the same experience or qualifications, but your achievements are usually unique and, when well put together, can genuinely convey that 'must meet' factor.
A Solid Foundation in Your CV's Career History
It's now time to give the employer a more structured view of your previous employment through a well written Career History. Here is a checklist of the information you should ensure is included for each job that you list.
- Name of the employer and your job title.
- Your role and key responsibilities as an Accountant, presented as sentences with bullet points.
- Details of any special projects you worked on, such as mergers, take-overs and acquisitions, migration to new software, etc.
- Details of any new accounting systems, processes, practices and techniques you established, also described alongside bullet points.
Do not write long paragraphs, but present short, emphatic sentences with bullet points. Each point can be about two sentences long. Your Career History on your Accountant's CV is really another opportunity to present achievements, while including information about your duties and responsibilities at the same time.
The trick is to cover your responsibilities in different positions, but at the same time to present as much information about your skills and abilities as possible. This way, you communicate more important information about your selling points in an interesting way that is more likely to motivate the employer. For Example:
- Compiled and distributed monthly reports to the company's management team, conveying accurate data and financial reports.
Specific information does more to back up the point you are making. Use verbs (action words) to add clout and emphasis to the descriptions of your previous work. Active language makes your CV more interesting and provides the employer with a better sense of you as a person. If you start your sentences with an active verb, the effect is to make you sound more dynamic and proactive.
Some obvious examples of financial verbs that you can use on your Accountant's CV: administered, budgeted, planned, and programmed. Others that are not so obvious are: allocated, appraised, measured, balanced, assessed, retrieved. Stress your strengths through action verbs such as: analysed, reviewed, established, pioneered. These all convey management strengths.
Keywords are also important, as these are often used when employers scan Accountant's CVs using specialised scanning software. Some of the keywords will be included in the job description and person specification, so it's a good idea to borrow some key phrases from the literature for the individual vacancy you are applying for.
These can influence whether your CV helps you to get shortlisted or not. However, do use them carefully and ensure that they do not stand out amidst the flow of your content. Do not compromise quality by inserting too much repetitive jargon.
Reinforce your Accountant's CV with Solid Skills
A list of technical skills will reinforce awareness of your competence and expertise. First, list specialist accounting software such as Sun Ledger, Magnitude and Business Objects, stating whether your skills are competent or expert.
If your usage of a particular program has been advanced and tied to a significant project, describe this in brief.
List the expected MS Word, Excel and Outlook, but specify whether your skills are advanced or competent. If you have advanced skills in a particular Excel function, specify this or even say how you have used it.
Qualifications and Training for the CV of an accountant
As a qualified, chartered accountant, you must have been certified by one of the following professional associations:
- Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA)
- Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales (ICAEW)
- Institute of Chartered Accountants of Scotland (ICAS)
- Institute of Chartered Accountants in Ireland (ICAI)
- Association of International Accountants (AIA)
This is the most important qualification you have and the one that you should list first on your Accountant CV. Provide the dates of your certification. If you are partly qualified, include the start dates of your study and state that it is ongoing.
If you have a Bachelor's or Master's degree in accounting, economics, business management, etc, you should include your degree details next. Including your degree results reinforces the employer's perception that you can work at a certain level. Give the institution's name, your degree title and result, and the completion date. Also include details of any secondments or special projects you undertook that were vocationally relevant.
You should also include any other vocational accounting training that you have completed. Provide the organisation you trained with and relevant dates.
If you completed a degree in a subject other than accounting, business management or economics, list that next. Likewise, if you attended a further education college to take a different kind of qualification, list that last.
As a general rule, you do not need to include schools once you are at this level.
Ensure Your Presentation is Professional
If you are to be invited to interview, the employer should already be feeling confident about you. This will depend on your finish and presentation as much as the content. This should reflect the high standards of accuracy and attention to detail that you bring to your work. It is critical that the employer trusts your ability to get it right.
Spelling mistakes will not impress anybody. It's vital that you check and double check your accounting CV for errors, using the spell checker, your own eye (print a copy out, as it's easy to miss errors on screen) and a friend's second opinion. Otherwise, your standards will be judged on the presence of spelling errors. The employer will simply think that you are prone to making mistakes on a general level.
An Accountant's CV should be a strong selling document. It is important to write in a confident but cool professional tone. It is good to sound motivated, but not over-enthusiastic, as this is not conducive to the employer perceiving you as a clear, logical thinker.
Use clear, specific and positive language, adding impact to the statements you are making. Every word should be supporting the core message of your CV - that the employer should invite you to interview because you are the best candidate for the job, capable of adding more to the role, while never posing a risk.
Personal details are no longer expected on Accountant's CVs, but a little information will help to convey a sense of your personality. You can include some interests, if these add to your professional image, under a section titled Other Interests.
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