Stand Out from the Competition with Precision, Consistency and Simplicity
While the guidelines for resume writing change every few years, there are some tried-and-true rules that you should always follow to stand apart from other accounting and finance professionals.
Crafting a great finance and accounting resume involves more than bulleting a list of numbers and analytics. Strong resumes showcase your technical experience and knowledge through concrete examples. They highlight soft skills, such as relationship building, communications, problem-solving and critical thinking. They can also demonstrate your leadership characteristics and explain how you master systems and process management.
A well-executed resume succinctly articulates your experience, knowledge, strengths, and accomplishments.
To help land that first interview, follow these simple tips:
1. Format Your Resume Professionally
Many employers won’t look at a cover letter, so your resume often serves as a first impression. At the outset, the key rule is to keep things simple when it comes to formatting. Consider the following guidelines:
- Skip the “Objective” opener. Potential employers know your objective: Land the job.
- Use black text, and keep the font and size clean, simple, and consistent. Use no more than two different fonts.
- Spellcheck to eliminate typos. This is so important that we’ll say it again: Check for typos.
- Use bullet points. (How’s this for meta-advice as you’re reading through this list?) Do not include long lines of descriptive text. Put yourself in the place of the reviewer/recruiter who is likely reading dozens of resumes for the same position.
- Ensure you include contact information. Yes, this seems obvious but make sure your name, email, and cellphone are prominent and correct.
- Include a link to your LinkedIn profile and ensure content is consistent in both places. Ensure your LinkedIn “About” section, “Headline”, “Work Experience” and photo are up to date.
- Do not include a picture on your resume.
- Avoid meaningless “throwaway” terms and buzzwords.
- Remove obvious statements like: “References provided upon request.”
- Do not rely solely on spellcheck. Automated spellcheckers may not catch all inaccuracies, especially if a word is spelled correctly but used in the wrong context (e.g., Finance Manger instead of Finance Manager). Reread your resume over and over again, and ask at least three people to check your resume in detail before finalizing it.
2. Customize Content
Every time you apply for a position, tailor your resume for that specific role. Highlight areas of expertise that uniquely align with the potential employer and job description.
It is no longer necessary to keep your resume on a single page but be as concise as possible to keep the reviewer’s attention. You must be a ruthless editor. So if you have a lot of relative experience, be as succinct as possible.
Remember to use a variety of adjectives and verbs to explain your work history and professional background. This helps to customize your experience. Do not use the same verb repeatedly as the first word in your bulleted lists.
3. Optimize for Applicant Tracking Systems
More and more recruiters and employers are using applicant tracking systems (ATS) to scan resumes for specific key terms. It’s critical to pepper your resume with the same keywords and phrases that match the skills and qualifications in the job description.
4. Follow the X by Y by Z Formula
Here is some advice from Laszlo Bock, former Senior Vice President of People Operations at Google: Adhere to a bullet-point format (as mentioned above) and articulate your experience in this very specific way: “Accomplished [X] as measured by [Y], by doing [Z].”
But let’s shorten it to X-Y-Z. Simply, this means focusing on accomplishments — your impact that drove quantitative results. For example, imagine an applicant who wants to emphasize membership in a prestigious group. Here is the “OK way,” the “better way,” and the “best way” to describe that on a resume:
OK: Member of Leadership for Tomorrow Society
Better: Selected as one of 275 members in a 12-month professional development program designed for high-achieving diverse talent.
Best: Selected as one of 275 members nationwide for a 12-month professional development program for high-achieving diverse talent based on leadership potential and academic success.
Here is another example intended for an accounting manager applicant who wants to articulate contributions for improving department performance:
OK: Reduced monthly financial close time.
Better: Reduced monthly financial close time by three business days.
Best: Reduced monthly financial close time by three business days by creating close checklists and distributing reconciliation work more efficiently.
One point about jargon: Use shorthand and abbreviations, such as QoQ (quarter over quarter), only if you are 100 percent sure that the resume reviewer will understand exactly what you mean.
5. Emphasize Technical and Analytical Skills
Accounting and finance roles often require proficiency in specific software, such as ERPs, QuickBooks and other financial modeling tools. Highlight your proficiency in these tools and any other relevant technical skills you possess. Also emphasize your ability to conduct financial analysis, develop budgets and create forecasts, as well as how you can provide strategic recommendations based on data-driven insights.
6. Use Advanced Formatting
Beyond basic formatting, like keeping text concise and using bullet points, there are more advanced formatting tips to consider. Here, organization of content is critical. You’ll want to list items in a format familiar to industry recruiters and reviewers. These rules include:
- If you are a current student or recent graduate list education before experience. Include the school’s name, degree earned, major, GPA, and month and year of graduation. If you graduated cum laude, highlight that.
- If you are a professional whose been in the field for more than one year list experience before education.
- Focus on the details that are most relevant for the position. If you have a lengthy work history don’t omit older positions and achievements, rather remain concise and focus on your more recent positions and experience.
7. Include Professional Development and Achievements
Mention any relevant professional development courses, workshops, or conferences you’ve attended, and highlight any awards, honors, or recognition you’ve earned.
Creating or revising a resume may seem daunting but following these tips and tricks will help fast track your job-searching success. Currently seeking a new finance or accounting career opportunity? Alliance Resource Group can help!