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How to prepare a stand out CV for financial services

Recruitment expert Jay Davitt shares his tips for preparing a clear and concise CV to help you land your next job interview

While recruitment processes are always changing, the CV remains a key differentiator for job applicants. Hiring managers have a trained eye when it comes to evaluating CVs and deciding whether to bring a candidate forward for interview.

Jay Davitt, Associate Director with Morgan McKinley, recently spoke with IOB members to provide some helpful tips on how best to prepare your CV for financial services roles.

1. Tailor your CV to the position

A CV tells your career story to hiring managers. When drafting or updating your CV for a role, it’s important to keep your audience in mind. Review the job spec for the role you are applying for in detail and outline in your CV how you meet the key requirements for the role. This is your chance to show how well suited you are for the position and make a great first impression.

2. Research the company

Spend time researching the company you are applying to work with. Davitt explains, “there may be important values that they are looking for in candidates – for example collaboration, leadership, communication skills. If you can demonstrate these skills within your CV, you are showing how you are a great match for their culture.”

3. Keep it well organised, clear and consistent

When it comes to format and layout, he recommends sticking to an uncluttered layout without too many special effects. Keeping fonts and font sizes consistent is an important detail that many candidates overlook. Layout can also make your CV easier to read and understand. Bullet points are also highly recommended. “Bullet points help hiring managers use those precious 5-7 seconds looking at your achievements rather than wasting time trying to find them."

4. Prioritise the most important information

You don’t have to give equal space and prominence to all of your past roles. Make sure you give the most important information, such as recent qualifications and experience, more room. Ideally your CV should be concise, Davitt recommends two pages if you’re early in your career or a max of three pages if you have ten or more years’ experience. Chronological order is recommended for work experience. Start with your most recent role and work backwards. “From the feedback we get from employers, they like it this way – this is the way they want it.”

5. Use positive language

Employers want to see what you did in a job or how you contributed to a project you worked on. Positive language can help your achievements stand out. Power words such as ‘launched’, ‘managed’, ‘coordinated’, ‘motivated’ all help to specify your responsibilities and stand out clearly to hiring managers.

6. Mind the gaps

Include start and end dates for all your roles. When it comes to gaps in employment, Davitt encourages candidates to be truthful and explain any gaps between roles. “Employers like to see that. It’s life, just be very truthful”.

7. Don’t forget to proof-read

Jay receives hundreds of CVs every week from candidates, it still surprises him that many CVs get sent with spelling, punctuation and grammar errors. “I would say get somebody else to proof-read your CV” suggests Davitt. “Somebody that you’re comfortable with. They might see things you don’t see.”

8. If you write about it, make sure you can speak about it.

Davitt urges candidates to not exaggerate their past job experience, qualifications or skills. “Make sure you are comfortable speaking in detail about any elements included within your CV. The job application process is as much for employees as employers. Never exaggerate or lie on your CV, you will likely be required to discuss further in an interview or worse still, you may end up with a job you don’t like or can’t do.”

9. Make sure your CV and LinkedIn profile match

LinkedIn has become a big part of the recruitment process over the last decade. Many employers use LinkedIn as part of the application process. Davitt recommends keeping your LinkedIn profile up to date and aligned with your CV. “More than an online resume, LinkedIn can be an invaluable way to gain insights into job market as well as the prospective companies you’re interested in working with."

Looking to progress to a new role? Our career resources can help

For more tips on how to prepare and layout your CV and to view sample financial services CVs from Morgan McKinley, watch the event recording with Jay Davitt on IOB Learn. Don’t forget you can also access IOB’s full suite of career supports and content on the Career Channel on IOB Learn.