A guide to excellent CV writing for newly qualified ACAs

Marcus Williams 15.03.2019

So now you’ve fully qualified! You’ve passed all your exams and done your time to become a fully fledged Chartered Accountant. But what next? You may decide that you want to stay in practice and go for an internal promotion, or see what other audit firms can offer you externally.

How to write the best ACA CV

Or, like many each year, you may want to pursue your accountancy career within commerce & industry, financial services, or the not for profit sector. As you can be competing with thousands of newly qualified accountants each year, what you really need is a CV that’s going to make you stand out from the rest, so here are a few tips to help.

There’s a fairly standard layout for CVs, which is usually:

  • Aim for 1.5 - 2 sides, in size 11 font
  • Name, address and contact details, plus visa status where applicable, as a header
  • A brief personal summary of you, where you work and what you are looking to do now at the top
  • Education details (including university, degree, school, A-levels, GCSE grades etc.)
  • Any language skills and level of proficiency
  • Your work experience, starting with the most recent first and working backwards
  • Personal interests and achievements

On this last point, it’s really important to get across your personality as this is often what separates you from other newly qualifieds. Try to add some detail on what you do outside of work so people get an idea of you as a person. If you’ve climbed Kilimanjaro, play any sports, or done voluntary work for charity, then it will help you to stand out from the crowd. 

As a newly qualified accountant, your CV is more likely to be what’s called a ‘chronological’ one, rather then ‘functional’, which is more common at the senior end when you are targeting a specific role or company. Your employment history on a chronological CV should follow the traditional format of dates of employment, name of employer, size and business type, followed by your job title, responsibilities you’ve had and any specific achievements in the role. Try to avoid short 2-3 word bullet points – a coherent sentence of 1-2 lines for each bullet reads much better.

The best CVs for a newly qualified accountant in practice should also include your top 2 or 3 clients and a few bullet points for each on what you did for them. Perhaps it was a specific IFRS conversion or some Sox controls work? Or maybe you audited one of your client’s overseas entities? Either way, it really helps to give potential employers a feel for what you’ve done and the types of companies/industry sectors you’ve had exposure to. 

Finally, read it and re-read it to check for any spelling mistakes and grammatical errors. Get friends, family or colleagues to give it a once over too before you apply for a position, because once you’ve pressed send, you can’t get it back!

Marcus Williams's picture
Associate Director | Finance & Marketing
mwilliams@morganmckinley.com