Everyone knows that a professionally presented Finance CV is key to standing out from the pack.  It’s crucial in securing an interview or progressing to the next stage of a selection process.

However one key concept commonly overlooked is that a well written and laid out CV can actually steer the course of the interview in your favour and give you a crucial head-start in selling your relevant skill-set.  All before you’ve opened your mouth!

By following the simple steps below you can increase the chances of the interviewer focusing on your key strengths and asking questions in the areas where you are most comfortable and well-prepared.

The additional bonus for you in implementing this strategy is that it focuses your mind on the key achievements for each role.  As you tailor your Product Control CV these 4 or 5 achievements will become ingrained in your memory which will make it easier for you to answer related competency based questions.

Step 1. Tailor your Finance CV / Resume

As your progress through your career this becomes increasingly important when looking to change roles. You’re likely to have had a number of previous roles with different responsibilities, quite probably in different asset classes.  You may even be using your experience and skillset to try something completely different and move into a new area.

Let’s say, for example, you worked in FX Product Control for 18 months.  You then moved into a Credit Product Control role and had management responsibility for two junior controllers.  You’ve been involved with projects in both roles and are now looking to move out of line product control into a dedicated project role.

Submitting your standard line Product Control CV for the project role where the first few bullet points mention daily P&L, product knowledge and staff management is a guaranteed way to find yourself swiftly on your way to the ‘No’” pile.

You need to study the specification for the project role and re-write each block of your resume to ensure that the first few bullet points contain directly relevant experience.  Mention the projects you’ve contributed to, the successes you’ve had and the processes you’ve re-engineered.

Alternatively, if you’re going for a role in Management Information (MI) mention the reporting you’re already involved in and reports you’ve created or improved.

Simple, right? It’s amazing how many candidates don’t do it.

Step 2. Briefly describe each role

The key word here being ‘briefly’. Before you launch into a bullet point list of experience and achievements it’s a great idea to have one or two sentences which set the scene for each role and give the interviewer some context of what’s to come.

For example ‘Worked in the European FICC Product Control team managing 2 junior staff with direct responsibility for streamlining the month-end reconciliation and reporting processes’.

Step 3. List your key clients

Again this only needs to be a sentence or two and can be tagged onto the end of your brief role description.  Whether you do this or not will depend on your level of experience and your previous client base.  If you can do it, and can provide supporting examples, then do it!

It’s great self-promotion if you can demonstrate that you regularly deal with senior members of an organisation.

Let’s take the MI example again. You’ve applied for a role in MI which will involve sending reports on a daily basis to the heads of trading businesses and senior management within Finance.  In your current role you’ve built a good relationship with the COO of your asset class and have fielded questions from the Trading Head and well as the Global Product Control Head for your asset class.

This is great, relevant experience. Put it in your CV explicitly! Don’t wait to be asked in the interview.

A sentence as simple as “Key clients included the COO of Credit Trading, the Head of Credit Trading and the Global Head of Credit Product Control” will instantly demonstrate to the hiring manager that you have experience of dealing with a similar senior key client base as is demanded by the MI role.

Step 4. Add an ‘Achievements’ section

This is the crucial and most effective step in the process.  This follows on from Step 1 and is where you can dictate what your key achievements are for each role and what you want to highlight for the interviewer.  Note this is different from simply changing the order of your bullet points to move the relevant experience to the top.

Here we are creating a separate section to highlight quite clearly what we consider our key, relevant achievements to be.

The hiring manager will naturally focus on these and as a result you’ll be asked questions on experience that is directly relevant to the role and that you will have prepared thoroughly for beforehand.

This section also gives you the opportunity to promote achievements which are not necessarily competency specific such as:

  • Generated cost savings of $50,000 for the Front Office
  • Directly responsible for 5 hours of efficiency gains
  • Identified as a High Performer and placed on dedicated training programme

How many should I list?

A good rule of thumb is between 3-5 achievements for each role. Too few and you’ll leave the interviewer wondering if you actually achieved anything.  Too many will dilute the impact of the section and you run the risk of the interviewer losing focus on what you wanted to highlight.

Step 5.  Review for consistency

The last step is to carefully read through your CV and make sure that each of the sections for your previous employers is consistently laid out.  Each should have a brief description, key client list, separate achievements section and a targeted, well ordered, list of previous experience.

Step 6. The Final Product

You’ll now have a Finance CV where each section is highly tailored for the role you’ve applied for and which clearly advertises your key achievements and strengths.

To see how effective this strategy can be here is how a section of the same resume looks before and after applying the simple steps above. We’ll use the same example of the Credit Controller applying for a FDS/MI role:

BEFORE:

Old Finance CV

AFTER:

New CV

As you can see there’s a striking difference between the two.  The optimised CV makes the candidate appear a significantly better fit for the MI role both in terms of previous experience and the seniority of previous key clients.

The ‘Achievements’ section draws the interviewer to the key achievements, competencies and experience which the candidate has specifically identified and tailored to the role in question.  It’s very likely that the majority of the CV/resume based questions will be driven by this section.

Conclusion

We hope we’ve shown how following a few simple steps can dramatically increase the quality and relevance of your Finance CV.  You’ll not only stand a much better chance of securing an interview by implementing this strategy but will also have much more ‘control’ over the direction an interview will take.

Further reading:

SURVIVING A TECHNICAL FINANCE INTERVIEW

TECHNICAL FINANCE INTERVIEW QUESTIONS

COMPETENCY BASED INTERVIEW PREPARATION: ESSENTIALS

COMPETENCY BASED INTERVIEW QUESTIONS: 20 QUESTIONS YOU MUST BE ABLE TO ANSWER

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