AAT career coach: Five things not to put on your CV

Often what you don't put on your CV is as important as what you do

Often what you don't put on your CV is as important as what you do

You’ve optimised your accounting and finance job search, you’ve attended careers fairs and you’ve followed the AAT career coach’s five steps to an incredible cover letter. Make sure you don’t fall at the last hurdle: take Aimee Bateman’s advice and avoid putting these five things on your CV.

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1. Photographs

Let’s be honest: people frequently make assumptions about others based on image alone. It’s not really fair, but whether we like it or not it happens. You need to bear this in mind when putting your CV together.

One graduate I worked with added a photo of himself to his CV. He was wearing a suit in an attempt to show the employer how ‘grown up’ he was, but he just came across as extremely serious and a little scary. It actually put the hiring manager off.

It’s best not to add a photo of yourself, because you don’t want to give the employer anything to judge you on at this stage other than your skills and experience.

If the hiring manager wants to know what you look like? Well, it’s 2013 and thanks to LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter they can just Google you. And they will!

2. Date of birth

For the reasons I have mentioned above, you don’t need to declare your age at this stage.

If they want to, an employer can usually work out how old you are by your education/employment dates – but quite frankly, if you are good enough then it is irrelevant.

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3. Your life story

I know this sounds strange, but your CV isn’t about you. It’s about how relevant you are to the accountancy and finance job you’re applying for, and how you can benefit the employer reading it.

Keep your descriptions relevant to the role in question and display your duties in bullet points. It’s much easier to read bulleted information when you’re in a rush (as employers usually are) than a scripted essay-style document.

In addition, separate your achievements from your duties so that they stand out – and keep these relevant to the job you’re applying for as well.

4. Hobbies

Maybe ten years ago ‘golf, socialising with friends and going to the gym’ was acceptable on a CV, but not anymore. If you want to stand out in this competitive marketplace, you need to make it clear how you’re going to benefit the company.

Tell the employer what your values are and what motivates you. Your goal here is to make them want to meet you.

If you’re going to state hobbies or interests then always bring it back to the job you’re applying for. For example, perhaps you run marathons. This might not seem relevant to an accounting and finance job, but think about what it demonstrates about you.

You might say: “I enjoy running marathons. This is because I’m a dedicated person and enjoy pushing my boundaries to be the best I can be.” Here, you’re illustrating that you possess ambition and determination.

Also: rename this section ‘About Me’, because this sounds more professionally relevant than the heading ‘Hobbies’.

Here’s a video I made in which I address the ‘Other interests’ area of your CV:

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5. “References available on request.”

Every inch of this document needs to be selling you. It may be CV tradition to use this well-worn sentence – but it does not sell you in any way. Remember that you need to think like a salesperson when applying for jobs.

List the details of your referees. State their names and current positions. The world can be a small place at times, and you never know who knows whom. You could discover that the hiring manager knows someone somewhere you’ve worked/studied. Companies and people like hiring people who have come from a known recommendation, and mentioning your referees here just might give you that extra appeal.

There’s also the chance that the hiring manager may be connected with one of your referees on LinkedIn. People feel more comfortable when things are familiar, and creating the opportunity for connections like these to benefit you is far better than providing no information at all.

Book onto an AAT careers event, featuring AAT career coach Aimee Bateman

Need more CV tips for you finance and accounting job search? Check out my video ‘Aimee’s top five CV tips’:

Watch more videos from the AAT career coach

Apply for accounting and finance jobs at AAT Jobs

Aimee Bateman is a corporate recruiter turned careers champion and founder of Careercake.com.

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