How to write a CV for a finance higher apprenticeship or other school leaver programme
Many finance employers request a CV along with an online application form. This is an additional opportunity for you to showcase your skills and enthusiasm, as well as prove that your written communication is up to the required standard. A CV isn’t always requested, however, so if an employer doesn’t ask for one don’t include it.
There isn’t a single right way to put together a CV, but it should include some standard headings and information in an order that’s easy to follow and understand. It’s worth adapting the format and content of your CV to reflect your strengths and the specific qualities and qualifications the employer seeks.
What you should include
Everything you include in your CV should be tailored to the role and company that you’re applying to. Read the job description and visit the employer’s website before you start your CV. This is the basic information you need to cover:
Personal details and contact information
This should sit at the top of the page. You should include your address, a professional-sounding email address (preferably your first name and surname) and a contact number that has an active answerphone.
All finance recruiters look for good grades, so your GCSE and A level or equivalent results should be high up on your CV. List the subjects in order of what matters most to the employer; start with maths and English instead of, say, religious education and drama, even if you got better results in the latter. If you haven’t yet completed your A levels, include your AS results and your expected A level grades.
Include any work experience you’ve had. This could be a one-week placement you did while at school, a part-time job and/or any unpaid positions. For each job write a brief summary of your responsibilities and any achievements/results. Emphasise the tasks that have helped you to gain and develop the skills finance recruiters are looking for, such as customer service, research and teamwork. Do adapt your work experience heading if you think something else will be better, for example, ‘Employment and work experience’, or include a separate section for voluntary work.
If you have gained any experience in, or exposure to, the industry through insight days, workshops, presentations or similar, include a section devoted to this. You could entitle it ‘Finance experience’ or something along those lines. Finance recruiters are keen to meet students who are considering a career in the industry and admire the efforts students make to engage with them, so this will make your CV stand out.
A separate skills section isn’t essential as these details can be incorporated elsewhere, such as under work experience. However, it is worth pinpointing specific skills that your chosen finance employer wants, such as MS Office (Excel, PowerPoint, Outlook, Access and Word). If you’re applying for a position within a company’s IT department, it’ll be particularly advantageous to include a skills section that shows you’ve got the required technical skills.
A section outlining your interests (or extracurricular pursuits) is also optional. But it’s worth including this if you’re involved in any activities that help you to develop the competencies and qualities finance employers look for. If you’re a longstanding member of a local basketball team, for example, this will show that you can work in a team and are committed and motivated.
What you should avoid
There are a few CV blunders that can transform a credible candidate into a questionable one in the eyes of a recruiter.
Size matters. To keep your CV succinct, only include essential information that will increase your chances of getting a job. Consider using bullet points and other formatting features to keep sentences short and break up text.
Telling lies on your CV
It might be tempting to make stuff up or stretch the truth to impress finance recruiters. Don’t! You will be asked about your CV at interview, and if you tell fibs and are found out you jeopardise your chances of landing the job. If you make it through the selection process and get hired, you could be dismissed at a later date for lying on your CV.
Submitting without checking
Before you submit your CV, ask a careers adviser at your college (if you have one), a teacher, an older family member or a friend to check it for sense, style and grammatical mistakes. CVs loaded with errors leave a bad impression and imply you don’t have some of the qualities finance employers look for, namely attention to detail, professionalism, accuracy and strong written communication.