As with so many things in life, accounting resumes fall into a few simple categories. Most are okay. Some are terrific. And a few… whew! Let’s just say they’re lucky if they hit a hiring manager’s recycle pile on their way out the door. Here are some examples to help you see the difference.
(Note: If you haven’t already seen the article on how to write your resume, you may want to start there.) (Secondary note: Because this document is intended to help you get a job in the accounting field, just bear in mind that attention to detail counts double. Maybe triple. And that’s how many times you should proofread the document before it ever goes out the door. Also, don’t use flowery words like “transformed” or “revolutionized.” Leave that to the liberal arts majors.) Take a look at the examples below.
Here are a couple resumes that showcase everything *not* to do in your own:
These resumes highlight the kind of smarts and attention to detail that help land jobs:
Taken a moment to notice some differences? The best thing you could say about the second one is that it looks like every other resume you’ve ever seen. (And since the point is to stand out, that’s also maybe the worst thing you could say.) Our applicant just listed different categories – Education, Certificates, Work Experience and so on – and then filled in the blanks. There’s no overview, no explanation of what he has to offer a company. A hiring manager would have to sift through all this data and try and decipher who this person is, and why he’s worth having around. Hiring managers don’t have that kind of time.
Now, on the Good Resume, the first thing you notice is a story at the top. Here our applicant friend calls it Qualifications; others may refer to it as a Profile or Objective, or just list the job title they’re going after. (Note: If you go with “Objective,” make sure that objective is phrased so it tells how *you* want to help *them*, not the other way around.) The important thing is that it tells the hiring manager, in a few short sentences, just what you bring to the table and how you’ve gotten so darned smart. Explain how you solve problems; that’s huge with accounting recruiters. After that you want to back up what you just promised. Show the results from your efforts at past positions. Don’t simply name off the tasks and responsibilities you had; use numbers and concrete examples to show how you made a difference there. If your idea and execution helped increase profits or attendance or website hits, say how much. As precisely as you can. Again, precision counts in this business.
Sound tricky? It is. But it’s worth it when it helps set you apart from the avalanche of other resumes your hiring manager is probably seeing, and there’s a bonus: You’ll have an advantage in those inevitable interviews, too, because you’ll know more clearly just what kind of employee you are. After all, you wrote it all down. Plus, a solid understanding of what makes a good resume will also help you land your *next* job. And the next, and the next…
How to get on the do-not-call list
So that covers the Good and Bad of the resume world, but that’s not quite everything. There remains, of course, the Ugly. They may or may not be real, but either way these epic resume blunders are too good not to share. If you’ve ever said anything like this to a prospective employer, congrats – everything else you do will be a step up from there.
- “Responsibility makes me nervous.”
- (proof that proofing counts) “Was instrumental in ruining entire operation for a Midwest chain.”
- (explaining an arrest) “We stole a pig, but it was a really small pig.”
- “Please call after 5:30 because I am self-employed and my employer does not know I am looking for another job.”
- “References: Bill, Tom, Eric. But I don’t know their phone numbers.”
- “I speak English and Spinach.”
Now that you’ve got an idea of what employers don’t want, check out the kind of things they do.