Five things payroll managers will look for in your CV

Searching for a new job can be an exhausting process but you might want to spare a thought for payroll managers. Recruiting the right staff is important in any sector but these individuals may have one job opening, 100 applicants, and have to pick the right person while fulfilling their normal duties. As a result, many of these applications will end up in the bin – so it’s vital yours stands out from the competition.

During the CV review process, an employer will have to search for a few very specific things. Ensuring you’ve succinctly answered these should go a long way to helping you get that all-important payroll job.

A quick summary


As mentioned, payroll managers will only have a few minutes – if that – to look at your CV. Don’t be offended if they skip over most of the sections and focus on the front page. The first few words are the most important and these should sum up:

  • A key achievement in payroll
  • Recent work history
  • Specialist skills

If you can do all this in around 50 to 100 words, you should make your CV much more appealing to a prospective employer.

The key skills they need


Any payroll employee needs a strong grasp of numeracy and at least a basic understanding of the various software used in the industry. However, if an employer requests an applicant can use a specific programme, you must be able to demonstrate this.

This goes for education as well. Usually, payroll managers will request their staff have accreditations from professional relevant bodies, such as the Chartered Institute of Payroll Professionals (CIPP). If you possess a qualification from one of these, make sure to mention it.

These skills should feature in a prominent place within your CV. After all, if a payroll manager cannot find what he/she is looking for in the first few seconds of skimming your application, they are unlikely to continue reading.

Experience in payroll and achievements


The amount of experience required for a role varies depending on the organisation. Obviously, a junior payroll position requires less experience than something at a more senior level but – either way – you must be able to demonstrate your previous experience within the payroll sector.

Although this might sound like common sense, demonstrating experience is not as simple as stating where you worked and for how long. Instead, focus on the achievements. In the case of payroll, this could be changes to the running of an organisation, correctly processing a large number of processes on a regular basis, or improvements in efficiency.

If struggling to think of achievements, mention something which you are especially proud of or enjoyed. This is also important for promotion within your current organisation. For more information about advancing in payroll, refer to our in-depth guide.

If they can work well with others


The vast majority of payroll positions will involve interaction with others on a daily basis. Whether this is done via email, phone or face to face, staff must be able to make a good impression on both colleagues and clients.

However, it isn’t enough to simply state ‘excellent team skills’ on your CV.  Good payroll managers will look for evidence of how you work within a team. This can be detailed in the achievements/experience section of your CV but they might be able to gauge an idea through your covering letter.

This is an early indicator as to the tone of voice you will use with clients. Therefore, based on this, managers should be able to decide pretty quickly whether they like what they’re reading.

Would they be a good fit?


You might have the experience and qualifications, but if you won’t fit in with the company, that job might be out of your reach. It is difficult to gauge this through looking at a CV but you can cover a bit about yourself if you have the space.

To help sell themselves as people, some candidates will include a little about their personal life at the end of their CV. Consequently, this provides some clues as to whether or not they will get along with prospective colleagues and superiors – especially if they have shared interests.

Naturally, the interview is the best place to decide if an applicant is a good fit. As well as evaluating your successes, expect an interviewer to listen to how enthusiastically you discuss topics or steer the interview off-focus to chat about subjective matters.

Bonus – Do you actually have good attention to detail?


A career in payroll requires diligence as a mistake can potentially have financial repercussions. It is for this reason that almost every advert for a payroll position will request candidates have good attention to detail.

It is not enough to simply stress this in your CV – it should be self-evident.

For example, if there are grammar or spelling mistakes in your application, then perhaps your attention to detail isn’t as strong as you thought it was. It’s surprising just how many competent individuals have failed their applications due to a typo.

Once you’ve created your CV, make sure to proof read it. Once that’s done, proof read it again.

Advance your payroll career with us


Portfolio Payroll specialises in helping candidates find their ideal payroll position. If you want to take your career to the next level, please phone our Manchester or London branch on 0161 836 9949 or 020 7247 9455, respectively. Alternatively, please email

If you want to continue learning how to make your CV stand out from the crowd, browse our blog for more quality advice.

View Our Resources

Payroll Assistant Jobs

A payroll assistant supports senior payroll staff, undertaking many different jobs, from more

The benefits of hiring part-time payroll staff

There comes a time in the life of most payroll departments,when the workload can become too much more

HMRC to clampdown on pension scams

HM Revenue & Customs is stepping up its fight against pension scams by tightening the more

Adjudicator upholds record number of HMRC complaints.

A record number of complaints to HMRC over issues with PAYE have been upheld in favour of the more