The skills you need on your CV when you're applying to the Big Four

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If you're preparing your CV for a job with a Big Four accounting and consulting firm, it will need to be good. You will need to show that you have gained a deep and broad understanding of the business environment and that you can transform data into insights. You will also need to show that you are able to use those insights to influence performance, strategy and future commercial opportunities.

When you're writing your Big Four CV, think of achievements you can quantify which demonstrate the following skills.

1. 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 could demonstrate how your analysis has shaped or supported a business leader’s decisions.

2. Market and regulatory environment: How has your analysis influenced a company’s direction?

This is a common competency question at interviews. Hiring decision makers want to see that you understand the context in which a business operates. For example, do you understand how technology innovations, compliance issues and how competitors affect profitability.

3. Process Management: How have you improved or re-engineered business processes?

Remember, you will need to link your activity to a quantifiable achievement. So, when you're talking about improvements you've made to business processes make sure you have figures for how much you’ve reduced costs, saved time or increased efficiency. Alternatively, you may have enhanced or protected the corporate reputation – this is more difficult to measure accurately, but just as important.

4. Business Relations: How have you developed commercial relationships and won new business?

This is all about your professional brand and how you promote the organisation you work for. If you’re already in practice and directly responsible for winning or retaining clients this is fairly straightforward. It's more difficult if you're applying from commerce and industry. - You'll need to think more creatively. Have you represented your organisation as a keynote 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?

5. Project Management: How can you demonstrate your effective oversight of projects?

Lastly, when you're applying to the Big Four it helps to have project management skills. 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?

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. You’ll need to think strategically and tailor the content of your CV to each role.

Victoria McLean is the CEO of City CV,  an award-winning international CV writing and career consultancy. She was previously a recruiter at Goldman Sachs and the equities division of Bank of America Merrill Lynch.

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