The ultimate guide to creating an amazing accounting & finance resume: Part 1

Welcome to our three-part blog series on creating a great accounting and finance resume. Whether you’re a recent college graduate looking for your first job or you have some experience under your belt, our Ultimate Guide to Creating a Great Accounting & Finance resume will kick-start your career.

This guide is created for all accounting and finance professionals who are looking for expert advice on how to craft a clear, concise resume that will catch the eye of top hiring managers.

Don’t forget to download your free accounting and finance resume template at the end of the post!

But first things first. We’ll start by covering all the basics you need to know to launch your accounting & finance job search. Be sure to check in next week when we bust popular resume myths and share some tips and tricks that are guaranteed to take your accounting & finance resume to the next level.

Your accounting & finance resume is your first impression.
Make it count.  

According to employment numbers released by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) and the Department of Labor earlier this month, the two-month tally of unemployment claims reached 36.5 million, reflecting a jobless rate that the BLS acknowledged is the worst since the Great Depression.

Which means competition for available roles is steadily increasing.

Many companies are busy with their day-to-day duties coupled with the changing and adapting climate brought on by COVID-19. What does this mean for job-seekers like you? For starters, many hiring managers may be making some quick assumptions at a glance.

So make your resume’s first impression count.

Accounting candidates may have as little as 10 seconds to capture the interest of a prospective company or recruiter. To gain more attention from your recruiting partner, companies, and hiring managers, we highly recommend you take the time to create a great accounting & finance resume!

“There are only two times in life when you’re perfect. One is when you are born, the other is on your resume.” — Time-honored talent recruiter wisdom

Although resume trends change over time, our resume advice and templates have been given the stamp of approval by many of our best clients. It’s a great place to start, particularly if it has been a while since you’ve given your resume an upgrade.

Your resume is a marketing tool that tells a compelling story

For many companies, representatives from human resources are the first people to review resumes. Often, they receive hundreds of resumes for a single position and they can’t call every candidate who applies. (This is why many clients choose to work with talent recruiters, like  Vaco’s Accounting & Finance team, for example.) 

Hiring managers typically have key responsibilities in mind as they skim through each resume. And they’re looking for candidates who have demonstrated experience with those responsibilities. If these experiences aren’t clearly shown on your resume, hiring managers will assume that you don’t have the experience they’re looking for. If that’s the case, your resume will quickly end up in the “pass” pile.

It is also wise to consider the possibility that many in-house HR executives don’t have a background in accounting & finance so they may not be able to read between the lines. This is why it is so important to add the core responsibilities of the role you’re applying for on your resume before adding any successes, projects, or improvements that you may have made or implemented.

You would be surprised at how many high-level executives have said that they were not chosen to interview for jobs that were a perfect fit because their resume focused first on special projects and neglected those critical core responsibilities.

By the way, this is another great reason for candidates to work with talent recruiters! Often, recruiters have a background in the field and have the ability to read between the lines and get to know your experience in greater depth and detail than what’s on your resume. A good recruiter will help you hone your resume so it tells the story employers want to hear.

How to make your resume stand out from the crowd

Telling a compelling story and demonstrating your ability to nail a position’s core responsibilities is the first and step, but what else does your accounting & finance resume need?

Feature your education

Due to the increased competition, qualifications are more important now than ever before. It’s time to advertise that hard-earned BA, BS, MBA, CIA, CPA, CFP, CPA, or CPA candidate credential! In the accounting & finance industry, education and continued education is crucial. Educational qualifications give you an edge over the competition; and in many cases, certain credentials are a requirement. 

Also, more and more companies are requiring a CPA, so if you’ve been on the fence about getting your certification, now is the time to start. CPA tracking is also very valuable and should be added to the resume.

Demonstrate your growth

Seeing a strategic growth trajectory with increased responsibility and experience tells a lot about your work ethic, drive, and willingness to learn and grow. 

Detail your experience

Be sure to give enough detailed information about your roles and responsibilities. Your experience is crucial in making sure that employers can see that you have the experience needed to be successful in the role.

Show your stability

Showing that you have been with a company for more than a year communicates a story of dedication and loyalty to potential employers.  If you were forced to leave a job after fewer than 12 months, be sure to add your reason for leaving (RFL). More on this in our next installment of “The Ultimate Guide To Creating a Great Accounting & Finance Resume!”

Include Big Four experience

It helps hiring managers and recruiters to see the types of companies or industries you have experience auditing. Many companies are looking for candidates with Big Foud auditing experience. So if you’ve done a stint with Deloitte, PriceWaterhouseCoopers (PWC), Ernst & Young (EY), or KPMG, be sure to prominently feature this experience! This will give an extra edge on the competition and also help recruiters know which clients would be a good fit for you.

Indicate a mix of public and private companies

Many larger companies prefer to see a mix of public and private experience. If you worked for a public company, it can be helpful to show the index stock name. Many public companies will usually want — and maybe even require — previous experience with another public company.

Exhibit your industry experience and relevance

Demonstrate the depth of your experience as well as the scope. Often, it helps to show experience in a specialized industry, especially if the industry is the same or similar to the one you’re applying for. For example, if you have experience in manufacturing, it helps to add the type of company underneath the job title, along with a small blurb about your role. HR and agency recruiters may not be familiar with the company and they may not have the time to research every single company you’ve worked for.

Share company revenue and size

It can be extremely helpful for HR and recruiters to know the revenue and size of each of the companies you worked for. It gives them an idea of what types of companies and positions might be a good fit for you. The level of involvement and support changes with the revenue size, so clients are often looking for candidates with similar size of revenue experience.

Check your spelling, grammar, and consistency in layout

Last but not least: proofread! Accountants are expected to be very detail-oriented, so it’s crucial to show consistency in formatting with layouts, fonts, and spacing, past and present tense, as well as correct spelling and grammar. This represents your quality of work and eye for detail.

Come back soon for the next installment of “The Ultimate Guide To Creating a Great Accounting & Finance 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.