The Anatomy of a perfect CV – our six top tips

We try to steer away from using CV’s as the sole tool to filter candidates at the selection stage. At best, the CV is a 2-dimensional account of someone’s work history, recounting where they have worked and highlighting a few notable personal attributes. At its worst, a CV can be vague and misleading, or not relay anything relevant at all.

In the case of Accountants working within practice we see all manner of variations, from 6-page transcripts detailing every task the individual has ever completed, through to a one- page document with a brief list of employer’s names and employment dates.

As niche recruiters for Public Practice we prefer to get under the skin of an individual, to talk to them and dig out their strengths, qualities and differentiators. After all, finding the perfect fit candidate for a job is about much more than skill set.

Most Accountancy firms however will still insist on seeing a CV, and will use it to decide they will interview you or not. So how can you make sure that yours ‘jumps from the page’?

It is reported that Hiring managers decide within the first 30 seconds of viewing a CV whether they will progress it or not. It is important to get the recruiter hooked within the opening lines of the CV and to make it clear for them to quickly see why you are suitable for their specific role.

Office desk with laptop and paper

If you want to produce a standout CV which is not only professional but is attractive to read just follow our 6 top tips;

  1. Layout – The reader should be able to easily see your relevant qualifications and the progression of your career, a clear layout and strong headings are key to this. Keep the paragraphs short and snappyYou can also include bullet points to highlight the key points.

    Include your name, address, email address and telephone number clearly at the top of the page. If you have more than one page of your CV make sure it is at the top of every page as your CV could get separated.

    List your job titles in reverse chronological order, along with the start and end date and company name.

  2. Summary statement – Like it or not your CV and/or covering letter is an advert, aimed at an employed to sell something … you! (or more accurately what you can bring to the table). This is at the start of your CV so it’s imperative that it reads well and grabs the attention of the reader.

    ​Sometimes it is difficult to sell yourself. Our top tip is to ask a few trusted friends and/or ex-colleagues to give you some keywords or sentences which they feel best communicate your top professional feautures. This can then be pulled together into a paragraph or two.

  3. Soft skills are just as important as technical ability. Link to top 5 attributes, try to think about the attributes required for the role, what will they be looking for? Include any transferable skills from historic experience as well as valuable qualities such as ability to work to deadlines, adaptability and leadership capability.

    Your work experience and professional skill set will take centre stage, but it is also useful to mention any notable extra-curricular projects such as volunteering, sporting achievements or charitable work. This will make you stand out slightly from other similar candidates and give the employer a more rounded view of you as a person. Do however keep this section short and to the point.

  4. Show not tell – storytelling. Use case studies and real-life examples to convey achievements and abilities. This will resound with a potential employer much more strongly than just saying ‘I am good at xxxx’.

    ​The reality is that a list of duties completed for one Semi Senior Accountant working in practice is more than likely almost identical to another. Don’t just list duties, think instead of the value you have brought to Employers and Clients by the work you have done.  Try to include where you have delivered over and above the minimum rather than the basics as this will help you stand out.

  5. Persuasive language – Think about the language you use within your CV; does it derive an emotive response? If not, you may want to look again at the words you have used. Ensure that your character and ambitions shine through.

    ​It is best practice to tailor the CV to each job you apply for where possible. Use key words which match the key words used in their job advert to be sure to be seen as a match. Another top tip is to look through the company website and mirror the style and language they have used, by mirroring their ‘brand dna’ you will be perceived as being a good fit for their culture.

  6. Numbers – You work with numbers so use them to tell your story. Results are important. Providing tangible evidence of what you have achieved will impress any future employer.​

And finally … ​Check for grammatical errors or spelling mistakes. We lose count of how many CV’s are rejected on this basis. Be sure to run a spellcheck within Word but also get a trusted individual to proof read the document for you, they will be a great sounding board in terms of anything you have missed out too.

If you would like any advice or support with tailoring the perfect CV, please contact one of our knowledgeable and dedicated consultants via or by calling 0333 577 7787.


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