This topic does cover financial compliance but we hope it helps as it applies generally too:
We cover why writing an achievement is a good idea, how to write one and where to put it.
Why write an achievement?
One of the key indicators that separate the great CV’s from the OK CV’s is achievement. In our experience we strongly advise that you include achievements on your CV. This doesn’t just apply to compliance as a profession, achievements are important in any industry. Perhaps the reason we feel so strongly about including achievements on your CV is because they provide an immediate indicator of the quality of an applicant. An achievement can make dividing who you want to shortlist for interview and who you will reject an easier task for any given compliance job. Logically if there are five or six applicants that have taken the time to include at least one impressive achievement on their CV, and ten to twelve CV’s that provide a simple description of their duties, any recruiter or hiring manager is going to be drawn towards the high achievers first (provided they have a relevant background).
We do appreciate that typically it’s the Heads of Compliance that boast the larger number of achievements or opportunities to present themselves in a good light i.e. “Over a 10 month period integrated a new Charles River Compliance system which improved the capture and resolution of trade errors by 32%.” As a Compliance Assistant/Associate at the start of your career you need time to build up your achievements that are specifically work-related, but fear not, achievements don’t have to be purely work-related. I know there may be people screaming at the screen right now saying “but it’s all about showing achievements that can demonstrate how someone has increased profit or reduced cost for their employer”. We agree this is important, but if you can’t demonstrate this at the moment, you can still write something that will differentiate you from the other applicants going for the same job.
How do I write an achievement?
Let’s clarify how to write an achievement. It’s not:
“Can work well in a team or individually”
“Worked from 9am to 5pm every weekday over a 2 year period at Global Bank”
“Reduced toilet visits to 1 per day to increase time spent compliance monitoring”
An achievement needs to:
1. Solve a problem
2. Demonstrate a specific skill
3. Be measureable
An example for a non-work/University related achievement could be:
“During University I noticed that fellow students were not drinking enough beer. In 2008 I founded the Beer Society and grew the membership from a base of zero to 300 in a 12 month period. Beer sales in the local area jumped 100% from £1m per annum to £2m per annum. I achieved this using guerrilla marketing techniques such as people stamping and beer drinking contests in the local student union.”
Forgive us for this particular analogy but it highlights some important aspects of writing a good achievement. What’s good about it?
• It highlights a problem
• It contains specific facts and figures
• It shows the result of your work
• It demonstrates how the person achieved a positive outcome
Now this is tough to do. We can’t hide the obvious difficulty in making achievements stand out. If you are struggling to write to this detail then you can make your achievements shorter:
“Created and grew the Beer Society from zero members to 300 members over a 12 month period.”
This shorter version does leave you open to further questioning such as, “What was the reason for founding the Beer Society” and “How did you achieve this growth in your membership?” Although it’s scant on details this is still a good achievement because it allows you highlight your positive traits in an interview. Just make sure you have further detail in an interview situation so that you can speak confidently about what you have achieved.
Achievements that are going to aid your application for a compliance job includes those related to (in no particular order):
• Managing conflict
• Communication with a very wide range of people
• Working with detail and large volumes of data or information
• Strong IT skills
• Strong numerical ability
• Honesty in your work
These certainly seem to be qualities required in all compliance assistants, compliance managers and heads of compliance.
Where should an achievement go?
We only think there is one answer to this: At the start of every job you have ever had. Don’t write achievements into a separate section, don’t highlight them by dividing your CV with duties, then achievements, integrate them into your duties and responsibilities and make sure the achievements appear first.
Be proud of what you have done. Whether you work in compliance or not, it’s important to make your CV stand out from your fellow competitors in the job market.
We hope this article has been useful and that you will act on our advice. Trust us, we’re ex-compliance recruiters (mwah, ha, ha 'evil laugh').