Landing that next role is often critical in pursuing your career in AP. Here at the APA we’ve created this CV writing tips article to give you some tips to help land your dream job!
Objective of a CV
The job of a CV is to be offered at an interview, so effectively it’s a sales document – it’s selling a service – YOU!! Always remember not to share everything in a CV, it’s just a taster and meant to entice the interviewer to offer an interview.
A CV should be no more than two pages in length. With so many CV’s being received many employers haven’t got time to read any longer than two pages. So be succinct, to the point and include everything within two sides of A4. To maximise the available space ensure column widths to the left/right of the page are kept to a minimum.
Enter your interview with confidence by having a perfect CV!
What sections should there be in a CV?
A CV needs to be complete, although some of the followings will be brief ensure they are all included to maximise your chances of success.
Include all the relevant sections in a CV
1) Contact information
The contact information is really important to include in your CV. Include all of the following: Name, Address, Telephone Number (landline and mobile if applicable) and Email address.
Supplying sex (male/female) isn’t necessary under sex discrimination laws but include this if you wish to. Similarly including date of birth isn’t absolutely necessary under age discrimination laws but it’s helpful to include this information too.
2) Previous related work experience
This is perhaps the most important part of the CV; the aim is to demonstrate experience and that recruiting you is not in any way a gamble.
Detail all previous jobs in date ascending order with the most recent jobs listed at the top. Older/less relevant jobs need less text written for them or can be removed if you are struggling to keep the CV below two sides of A4. Use strong action type words in the text, e.g. delivered, managed, planned, reconciled, solved, etc. Relate experience in previous roles to the new role being applied for e.g. reconciled a problematic purchase ledger account, prevented key accounts being placed on stop, avoided costly court action, etc.
3) Personal profile
Provide a personal profile, this should be around 50-75 words, not too narcissistic and always be honest! An example could be:
“I am a flexible, honest and experienced Accounts Payable Supervisor with excellent staff leadership skills and experience in managing an Accounts Payable department. I am an excellent communicator with proven reconciliation skills and am used to working with the team, board level members and external suppliers. I am skilled in resolving problems such as invoice discrepancies and negotiating successful outcomes. Always enthusiastic and optimistic, I am keen to learn and undertake new challenges.”
4) Educational background and qualifications
Including educational background is essential in any CV. Detail qualifications back to GCSE’s include grades and the year taken. Also include in this section any courses attended, especially ones relevant to AP or management type courses or courses with utility value (e.g. first aid).
5) Computer literacy and related skills
Computer skills are particularly desirable in AP so mention any skills you have (e.g. Accountancy packages (e.g. Pegasus, Sage, SAP, etc.) or desktop packages (e.g. Microsoft Word, Excel, etc.)
6) Personal accomplishments, experiences and interests
Keep this section short, include especially personal accomplishments (particularly in AP), include personal experiences (e.g. appeared in a TV program, won a competition, charity events attended, etc. Give the interviewer an idea about what you ae like as a person through some of your interests (e.g. cinema, TV, playing sports, chess/scrabble, etc.)
7) Social Media Profiles
Including details of social media profiles can be an excellent idea and a way of differentiating yourself from other candidates. It suggests technical awareness and also a knowledge of cutting-edge social media skills. Include social media account URLs but ensure that you check the profiles and clean-up any offensive text whether written by you and/or people you socialise with.
A references section should always be included. There are two approaches, either i) Include references within the CV or ii) Say “references are available upon request”.
Think carefully, some recruiters will call a reference prior to the interview which may be avoidable if you were not going to pass the interview anyway. For this reason and to avoid references being used to excessively many CV’s are written with the available upon request text.
The qualities needed in a CV
Now that you have all of the sections needed within a CV it’s time to reflect on the qualities which are needed in the CV. Ensure all of the following qualities are within the CV and you will have maximised your chances of success.
Read through the qualities needed in a CV section
1) Spelling, grammar and punctuation
Poor spelling, grammar and punctuation are all reasons for an interview not being offered. Ensure that the CV is error-free, basic checks such as Word spell/grammar checks are essential; also consider using an online checker such as Grammarly. It’s also strongly advisable to have your CV read by somebody competent and knowledgable about CV’s. Don’t trust a recruitment agency with this (they are generally too busy).
2) Easy to read and an excellent style
Keep the CV easy to read. Lay the CV out professionally in a logical structured format with clear headings.
Consistently use paragraphs, ensure the same fonts are used and be consistent with the use of bold and italic areas of text, colour and shading can be used for emphasis (although this can partially lose its effect when printed in “black and white”).
3) Objectives / career path understood
The CV should make it clear about a candidate’s career objectives and potential career path. This will help the interviewer to have clarity if the candidate is a suitable fit.
4) Keywords added
Adding keywords into a CV is essential. Keywords are particularly vital when applying to multiple recruitment agencies who will find CV’s by searching keywords (e.g. “purchase ledger”, “accounts payable”, “reconciliation”, “supervisor”, etc. Think very carefully about the most relevant keywords to roles you will apply for and make sure they are naturally included.
5) Customised to the role
Many candidates make the mistake of applying for a new vacancy by sending their generic CV. This is a mistake. Candidates should customise applications to a specific vacancy by analysing the job description and ensuring the CV (without lying) matches to the requirements. Customisation is essential and undervalued, it does take time but it is worth the effort.
A CV word cloud
Consider using a professional CV writer
If you’ve read all of the above and it all sounds a bit daunting then perhaps you may want to consider using the services of a professional CV writer. In situations where you can’t write a professional CV and/or you don’t have the time this can be excellent idea, here are some benefits of hiring a professional CV writer:
- Excellent presentation – A CV writer will have a standard format, which will look professional and create impact
- Will remain objective – A CV writer will remove bias and keep objective
- Speedy delivery – A major benefit of a CV writer is they can deliver a CV rapidly, which is majorly beneficial with an impending interview
- Customised CV – Many candidates find it hard to create a customised CV for a particular role. A CV writer will take an existing CV and customise it to the particular role needed
Practice the above tips and we’re sure you will have optimised your chances of at least being offered an interview. We hope you have found this article valuable and also recommend reading our interview guidance article for the next stage in the process!
In this career HQ article we provide clear guidance on all aspects of an interview, covering preparation for, travelling to, what to do during and what to do after the interview.
Finding jobs to apply for
Finding any (“old”) job to apply for is not too difficult but finding the perfect job, well that can be a lot more challenging! There are many ways to find AP related jobs; these include recruitment agencies, newspapers and magazines, social media and the best way of all through the APA jobs listing. This is one of the benefits for all paid members and can be found within the Career HQ section of the website.
Preparation for an interview
Here are some tips on how to prepare for an interview.
All AP jobs will require smart office for the interview. Make sure you attend the interview looking professional and well turned out. If possible ask what the dress code for the interview is, just to make sure you dress just right for the occasion!
Clean up your social media
Increasingly Employers are more and more looking at social media profiles to find out behind the scenes truth about potential employees. New companies are likely to understand humour and won’t mind you having fun, but if there is anything on social media you don't want an interviewer to see remove it.
Clean up your social media during the interview process
Do your research
The interview starts before you actually set foot through the door of the Company; this is in completing the research required for the interview. Research the Company, visit their website, visit their social media channels. Read as much information as you can, e.g. the year they were founded, key news of the past two years, prominent employees, products and services provided, etc.
Read through the job description
It’s an obvious thing to do, but make sure that you read through the job description carefully. If any questions arise ask the recruitment agency (if applicable) or write the question down to ask during the interview.
Plan the route
It’s important to plan the route, to remove as much stress as possible from the interview day. If the interview is local complete a “dry run” if possible and take the actual route. If a “dry run” isn’t possible be realistic in assessing how long the journey will take, allow extra time in rush hours in particular.
Travelling to the interview
Here is some advice to consider when travelling to the interview.
Plan to arrive early
Always plan to arrive early at an interview. As a general guide:
- For a journey time of 15 minutes allow 30 minutes travelling time
- For a journey time of 30 minutes allow 1 hour travelling time
- For a journey time of 1 hour allow about 1 ¾ hours travelling time
Arriving early will put your mind at rest. If you’re in a car, relax and practice in your mind what might happen in the interview. If travelling by public transport try and find somewhere local to sit down and relax (e.g. a café or similar location). If the interview is early in the day and in a different city it's ideal to stay over the night before in a local hotel.
Items to take to the interview
When travelling to the interview ensure you take the following items along with you:
- Professional bag – Have a professional looking bag pursuant to the AP profession
- Directions – Have the full address written down along with directions on how to get to the interview. If you have a satnav program the postcode in plenty of time for the interview
- Interviewer contact details – Have the interviewers phone number (mobile and landline if possible), just in case you get lost or need to call due to getting delayed, etc.
- Two to three copies of your CV – Take a copy of your CV for yourself and also one to two spares for the interviewer (in case they didn’t print your CV off)
- Money – Always take money with you to the interview. This could be for unexpected car parking, to buy a coffee, etc.
- Mints or chewing gum – Have mints or gum to freshen up your breath 10-15 minutes before the interview
- Interview Stationery – Take a professional notepad and at least 2-3 pens with you to the interview
- Business card – Take a copy of your business card with you just in case the interviewer asks for one
- Identification – Take some form of ID with you, a passport, driving licence, etc. This may be required to comply with security access to the building
- List of references – Have a list of references available to hand to the interviewer if requested
Prepare and ensure you take the right items to your interview
During the interview
Here are some tips to practice during the interview itself.
Above all else stay calm in the interview. It’s perhaps easier “said than done” but nerves in an interview won’t increase your chances. If required talk to friends about managing nerves or read articles on the internet or books on the topic.
Use body language to your advantage
Interviews are a classic situation in life to practice body language. The following are some tips for body language to use during interviews:
- a) Smile (be friendly),
- b) Lean very slightly towards the interviewer to show keenness
- c) Give a firm handshake (suggesting confidence)
- d) Avoid confrontational and defensive positions (e.g. "crossing of arms")
- e) Maintain eye contact (shows interest and confidence)
Use body language to your advantage during interviews
Practice your answers
Ideally practice your answers either "in your mind", in front of a mirror or with a partner/friend. Practice makes perfect and this is certainly true when answering interview questions!
Provide Open answers
Keep the conversation flowing and friendly by providing open answers, e.g. avoid as much as possible answering a question with simply "no" or "yes". Sometimes “no” or “yes” will be the only answer, but ideally use flowing answers which provoke further discussion. Also don't rush you answers, take a little time to think and give a considered response.
Be prepared to listen
Humans have “two ears and one mouth” for a reason, so in an interview make sure you use your ears and listen to the interviewer. Think behind the question, what its purpose was and answer truthfully (but not naively). Being professional is answering questions in a way the interviewer would like without outright lying. Listen and show you want to learn and are interested in what they have to say, seek clarification where necessary (it's not a weakness to do so).
It’s perfectly fine to ask questions in an interview, just make sure that you’re not interfering with the flow of the interview at the time you ask. Most interviewers will give an opportunity at the end of the interview by saying something like “Do you have any other questions” – Always have at least one question at this stage to show enthusiasm and also to ensure the interview doesn’t come to an abrupt end.
If asked the question “are you still interested in the role?” at the end the interview, keep things positive. There’s no need to answer there and then, you can think later about whether you want to accept the job or not.
We hope you’ve enjoyed this interview guide. Please feel free to leave any comments relating to this guide, from us at the APA we wish you the very best of luck with your interview.