Cogs with wording 'business skills' written on them

The CV of a modern finance professional needs to illustrate technical, business, leadership and people skills. That’s according to research from the Chartered Institute of Management Accountants (CIMA). We’ve previously looked at how best to highlight your technical skills. Now we’ll show you how to present your business competencies in a clear and compelling way. 

If you’re going to progress to senior finance roles, you must be able to demonstrate your wider business acumen. Your CV needs to show that you have gained a deep and broad understanding of your organisation’s business model, strategy and competitive position.

CIMA defines this as the ability of finance professionals to:

Use their knowledge of the business and its environment to transform data into insight

Influence performance, strategy and future commercial opportunities.

Your CV needs to show that you can use your business and analytical skills to advise the company on its future direction. This includes ensuring your finance and non-finance colleagues know they are accountable for their decisions. That requires a good understanding of how department specific decisions can affect the wider business.

A good place to start is to think about your achievements under these five headings: 

Strategy: How has your input shaped commercial or operational strategy? If you are at a senior level, this could be designing a corporate vision and directing its implementation. If you’re at an earlier stage in your career, you’ll need to demonstrate how your analysis shaped or supported the business leader’s decisions.

Market and Regulatory Environment: How has your macroeconomic analysis influenced the company’s direction or decisions? This is a common competency question at interviews. The hiring decision maker is looking for evidence of your understanding of the context in which a business operates. This includes such things as the way market forces, compliance issues and competitors affect profitability.

Process Management: How have you improved or re-engineered business processes? Remember, you will need to link your activity to a quantifiable achievement. So make sure you have figures for how much you’ve reduced costs, saved time or increased efficiency. Alternatively, you may have enhanced or protected corporate reputation – this is more difficult to measure accurately but just as important.

Business Relations: How have you developed commercial relationships and won new business? This is all about your professional brand and how you promote your organisation. If you’re in practice and directly responsible for winning or retaining clients this is fairly straightforward. But it is also essential for senior finance roles in commerce and industry. So you may need to think more creatively. Have you represented your organisation as a key note speaker or on an expert panel or industry group? Have you published articles or contributed thought leadership pieces to your organisation’s content marketing strategy?

Project Management: How can you demonstrate your effective oversight of projects? PRINCE2 and Agile training are obviously useful key words to have on your CV. But can you also demonstrate stakeholder management, organisational influence, or communications expertise? Be sure to put your best project management examples on page one of your CV.

Remember, hiring managers are looking for examples of achievements that demonstrate you have these competencies. It’s not just about making a list of everything you’ve ever done.  If you spot any gaps in your business skills experience, you can check the CPD courses from CIMA. If you’d like more help and advice on putting together an effective finance CV, call us.