The Ultimate Guide to Creating a Great Accounting & Finance Resume: Part 3

Welcome back to the third and final installment of our blog series on creating an amazing accounting & finance resume. We covered all the basics in our first post and debunked some enduring myths in our second post. This week we’re going to share some of our favorite resume tips and tricks to take your resume to the next level! 

Best practices to create a great accounting & finance resume

Stuck on your responsibilities? 

We get it — it’s hard to articulate what we do at work. But we have a secret for you: you don’t have to reinvent the wheel to spell out your responsibilities. To get your creative mojo flowing, browse around for job descriptions for similar roles at other companies.

Simply search for similar titles on job sites like Indeed, CareerBuilder, Monster, LinkedIn Jobs, Glassdoor for Jobs, or Vaco. This should help you understand what responsibilities and abilities are most important to employers. 

We have no doubt that the language and keywords they use will line up with your experience. Now, all you need to do is transfer all this great info — using your own words, of course — to your resume! We recommended including at least five responsibility bullet points per job. Anything less won’t tell an employer enough about your experience.

Use your bullet points wisely

Speaking of bullet points, always use bullet points to showcase your experience, keeping your sentences short and concise. Your bullets shouldn’t be more than one or two lines. Three at the most! 

Why are bullets so great for resumes?

  • They enable hiring managers to scan through your resume quickly to identify keywords used in their job descriptions.
  • They help separate information into digestible segments. 
  • They showcase your most relevant skills, accomplishments, and qualifications.

Include a “reason for leaving”

If you held a job for less than a year, add a reason for leaving (RFL) to the entry. 

For many companies, the ideal candidate is one who has worked for a company for a minimum of three to five years and has had consistent career growth. However, hiring managers understand that this may not be the case every single time. Often, things happen that are out of your control. 

While it’s impossible to predict the future, it’s always a good idea to research a company and make sure they’re stable — this can help minimize turnover that is out of your control. Recruiters will also understand that the role may have changed or is not what was originally communicated in the initial interviews. Regardless, if you had to leave a job after a few months, it’s a good idea to add an RFL under the last bullet point with a brief, factual explanation. 

Unfortunately, some hiring managers may make worst-case assumptions and without the time to fact-check, your resume may wind up in the “discard” pile. It’s always better to address short work engagement by being forthright. No one wants to hear about internal politics, so stick to the facts, keep the drama out of it, and make your RFL short and sweet.

Here are some examples of solid RFLs:

  • RFL: Company laid off 90% of its workforce due to COVID-19 reductions. 
  • RFL: Short-term project/temp role. 
  • RFL: Three-month temporary engagement was extended to eight.
  • RFL: Company was acquired by [insert company name] and the current accounting team was dissolved.
  • RFL: Company relocated to [insert city].
  • RFL: Previous Controller/CFO from [insert company name] asked me to join them.
  • RFL: Company went out of business.
  • RFL: Company was bought out by a PE firm.
  • RFL: Was let go due to a company restructure.  

Communicate your promotions

Clearly communicating promotions on your resume can be difficult. However, you must advertise your growth within a company. It’s especially important if you’ve been at the same company for a long period of time. 

We recommend showing the entire time you have spent at a company on the “company” line. This shows stability and makes it easy to digest. Then, on the “job title” line add “promoted to [title].” Finally, add the dates of that role to the right of the title and differentiate the responsibilities. 

Finally, add your previous titles with the dates you held that particular position. Download “Template B” for an example of how you can best communicate your promotions on your resume.

Position yourself wisely

If you’re self-employed, freelancing, or consulting, you’ll want to message this carefully. Many hiring managers and HR teams may assume that freelancers or consultants are not the right fit for a full-time job. 

If you fit into any of these categories, you’ll need to carefully market yourself in a way that sets you up for success. If this sounds familiar, it may be beneficial to explore project work to help round out your resume. If you’re interested in this avenue, get in touch with Vaco’s recruiters to learn more.

If you have been self-employed and you’ve decided to close your practice or pursue full-time employment as your primary source of income, rather than listing yourself as “owner” on your resume, use your company’s name. Then, add a title that best lines up with the position you’re applying to.

Find an editor you trust

We covered the importance of proofreading in our first installment, but we can’t emphasize it enough!

It can be extremely difficult to proofread and edit your own writing. And resumes are no exception. Get someone else to read it over for clarity and make sure they double-check your spelling, grammar, layout, and font size consistency. 

Update your experience and profile picture on LinkedIn 

Once you’ve updated your resume, make sure your LinkedIn profile lines up with your amazing resume. LinkedIn is more of a summary of experience than an extended version of the resume so five bullet points per job should be plenty. 

Also, please note that LinkedIn is for professional networking only and should not be used like traditional social media like Instagram or Facebook. If you want to be taken seriously, wear professional attire in your profile picture. It’s not uncommon for companies to cancel interviews because of an unprofessional picture. If you can, ask a friend with a professional camera to take a photo on a clear background. Or, you can use an iPhone/Android on “portrait mode” so it blurs out the background.

Help and hope for uncertain times

Here at Vaco, our goal is to help as many people as possible during these uncertain times.

Although there has been changes in active roles due to COVID-19 hiring freezes, furloughs, and layoffs, many companies that provide essential services are actively hiring. We also have some amazing opportunities with stable, recession-proof companies. 

Working with a talent recruiter is a great way to find your next job. Often your recruiter will leverage their long-standing relationships with companies to find the perfect fit for you. Many companies place an equal value on cultural fit, so it helps to have a friendly professional who is your biggest advocate. 

A good recruiter can help you find a job. A great recruiter builds long-lasting relationships forged with trust, friendship, career guidance, industry knowledge & interview advice so you can land your dream job. 

Before we go, we have one more myth to bust: talent recruiters don’t take a commission from your salary. Companies looking for full-time candidates (direct hire) pay talent & solutions firms based on a percentage of the overall salary. Rest assured, your recruiter will negotiate the best salary package on your behalf. It is a win-win.

Sharing is caring. We hope you’ll share this blog series with your friends and colleagues. 

Now go and create the ultimate resume! 

Download Leigh’s resume template here.

Leigh Walker is a Senior Associate for Vaco’s Finance Division in Los Angeles. He has helped co-found multiple startup companies, is a new dad to a baby girl, and is passionate about making a difference in people’s lives.