In some ways accounting resumes are a lot like your standard job applicant resume, though as with any profession there are things that you want to make sure you emphasize. Here are a few steps to making sure you build an accounting resume that gives you the best chance of landing the job.
1. Understand the Playing Field
As with almost any competitive endeavour you need to make sure you understand the environment you’re competing in. Knowing not only how your experience and training compare to the role but also what the competition in the market is will be important to your success. If you have work experience that makes the case for you, you’re going to want to emphasize that, if you’re stretching and need to really wow them, you need to write a top notch objective or career goal section.
2. Customize Your Resume
Many people skimp on this because they really don’t want to put in the work for each and every resume when they are sending so many out. This is a big mistake. Companies notice when you put discussion specific to them in your objective statement. This won’t get you the job alone but ultimately this can help you get noticed.
3. Keep it Professional
For the most part when you’re sending out your accounting resume you’re sending it where it will be reviewed by another accountant. Generally speaking accountants are on the conservative side so when it comes to pictures, graphics, and irregular fonts, skip it. You want something that is clean and clear that conveys your key points as effectively as possible.
The one thing aside from your key points that you want to make sure jumps out as much as possible is your name. The reviewer could be looking at anywhere from 50 to 500 more resumes and you want them to remember yours (and find yours easily if they go back looking for it through a stack of resumes).
4. Formatting & Grammar
Nothing will get your resume thrown out faster than sending in something where margins don’t align or there are obvious spelling and grammatical errors. This is a pet peeve for recruiters and hiring managers, especially when somewhere in your memo you’ve likely discussed your attention to detail.
5. Experience, Experience, Experience
Assuming this isn’t the accounting resume you are writing fresh out of college you have some work experience to write about. After your name and your objective statement your work experience comes first and should be the biggest section of your resume. You could have attended the three most prestigious universities in the country but after even a year of work experience that is not what the person reading your resume cares most about.
You want to make sure you detail all of the key skills that you gained in your work experience, both technical and soft skills. When possible you should try to use examples of what you’ve done to demonstrate your abilities. For example:
You Could Say: Led an audit team for a large public client
You Should Say: Led a team of 9 staff on a large public client audit and guided the team successfully to an early completion that was 5% under budget.
That kind of content matters, assuming it’s true and you can generate clear examples like that. The people reviewing your resume are going to read a lot from individuals who are “team leaders,” “efficiency masters,” and deliver “on time results.” This is your chance to stand out and provide some examples the reviewers can remember.
6. Other Sections
As mentioned above, your educational experience is of less importance after even a year of working. You still want to mention it, but keep it brief.
A “Skills” section is always recommended. Specifically mentioning relevant software and project management tools and experience that you have is something that you should mention.
“Interests” are of less importance. Only include them if you have room.
7. Additional Tips
- When discussing your work avoid using the “I” or “Me” identifies, this is your resume and the reviewer already knows you’re talking about yourself.
- If you’ve worked for one employer only list your final role, stating and describing every step from summer intern to senior manager at an accounting firm is a waste of space, the person hiring you cares about what you can do now.
- An exception to this is if you changed departments in a significant way, i.e. moving from audit to consulting. In that case you list both as your skills and responsibilities were different.
- Always use bullet points
- If you’ve had good performance reviews say so
- If you’ve worked on high profile clients you should say so. Names sell and if you’ve been trusted with priority accounts in the past your potential employer would like to know.
- Keep it short. A resume shouldn’t go over two pages and if it does you are writing stuff that may not even be read.