If you are an accountant and need a top notch CV / Resume, then in this article, I outline some key tips to ensure you create an outstanding resume that will win job interviews.
Align your resume to the job target
Accounting is a highly specialist area with expertise developed across diverse areas including auditing, bookkeeping, compliance, financial accounting, management accounting, taxation and corporate services (to name a few).
To ensure you are a good match for the job, make sure you align your resume / CV with the SPECIFIC requirements of the job, even if you have expertise across several areas. For example, you might have a career in auditing and as a CPA Accountant, with deep taxation expertise. If going for a position as a Tax Accountant, you need to make sure all the skills relating to taxation are listed and highlighted, including for example, financial statements, income tax returns, experience across various entities (e.g. partnerships, companies, trust accounts), along with tax compliance. The closer your resume aligns with the exact needs of an employer, the more likely you will be selected for interview. Areas to focus on:
Profile: Make sure your profile, or career objective aligns with the requirements of the job. It is no good highlighting your experience at PwC in external auditing, if applying for a project accounting position that requires experience across financial planning and budgeting, forecasting, investment models and scrutinising financial forecasts.
Key Skills List: List 8 – 10 RELEVANT skills in the opening section to highlight how your skills match the opportunity. You might have dozens of skills to list, but keep this skills list narrow and focussed on just the skills the potential employer requires.
Work History: Within the work history, highlight all the tasks and accomplishments that are relevant to the position. Ask yourself – does this information highlight how I meet the job requirements? If the information is less relevant downplay this. If relevant, highlight this information.
Focus on Achievements
The core of your message needs to be focussed on your achievements
By achievements I am not talking about that promotion, or pay rise you received, or even successfully completing a degree with first class honours, while you juggled both family and work commitments. Whilst these are all worthy achievements and you should be proud of them – they are focussed on YOU, not the employer.
When I talk about achievements, I am really talking about contributions and what differences made for present and past employers. As soon as you start developing a core message that talks about your achievements, rather than just talking about processes (duties and responsibilities), then you set the stage for showing why the employer needs you and how you can satisfy their needs.
Your goal and objective is to identify how you have contributed to past and present employers. How have you saved money, saved time, solved specific work problems, made work easier, build relationships and enhanced work practices. The wonderful thing about accounting and accounting related jobs is that you can really make a BIG impact to a business bottom line.
To get you thinking in an outcomes and achievements focussed way, I’ve outlined some questions.
- Did you encounter problems in relation to the integrity of financial data and how did you resolve this?
- Have you got a strong record of controlling costs?
- Did you design or implement policies that improved financial operations?
- Did you manage financial operations, when the company was growing and how did you manage this?
- Did you upgrade accounting systems and what impact did this have?
- Did you successfully reduce CPA fees?
- Did you reduce tax liabilities or manage difficult taxation issues?
- Did you improve accounts payable or receivable?
- Did you reduce the time to complete end-of-month closing of books?
- What did you accomplish for your clients?
- Was the company in growth mode and what systems did you put in place to support this?
- Did you reduce tax liabilities?
- Did you control costs?
- How did your technical skills help the organisation?
Be a solution to the employers problems
When developing your resume/CV you need to think about the problems you are helping to solve. Why does this organisation need an accountant, apart from the basic needs such as compliance?
General buying motivators for accountancy and related jobs include the need for an organisation to save money, make money, save time, make-work easier, solve a specific problem, ensure compliance, be more competitive and expand the business. How does your role fit in with these categories; and how can you demonstrate how you can solve these problems?
By thinking about how you can solve the employers’ problems, you will be miles ahead of any other job candidates out there, as you will be able to shape your resume / CV as someone that can fix their problem. The easiest way to do this – is to focus on highlighting achievements that are relevant to the position you are applying for and demonstrate how in the past you have solved employer problems. For example: You improved cash flow of the company, by reducing the number of outstanding debtors by 80%.
Deal in numbers
Accounting is all about number crunching, so it is imperative to highlight the relevant numbers in your resume/CV. Numbers are the universal language, even more so for accountants and will sell you effectively. For example:
Before: Reduced the time taken to deliver financial reporting to the senior executive.
After: Slashed the time taken to deliver financial reports to the senior executive by 50%.
Before: Negotiated a loan reduction for a major client.
After: Negotiated a loan reduction of 15% for a major client, securing savings in excess of $156,000.
Notice the difference?
When using numbers, use symbols, such as $, rather than dollars, numbers, namely $1,00,000 rather than one million dollars and %, rather than percentage. Symbols jump off the page, when employers and recruiters scan your document for meaning.
Highlight your other qualifications so you can really impress the employer
Once you have in place your professional work history, with a large focus on achievements, make sure you include the following information that will further emphasise your skills.
- Advanced degrees and certifications
- Affiliations and professional memberships
- Language skills and international business skills (if relevant to the job)
- Technical and computer competencies
- Volunteer work, in particular if you have used your accounting skills to help volunteer organisations.
Resumes for Accountants are not unique and at My Career Groove, we have a ton of resources to help more generally on how to write a knock out resume. However, a key focus of your document should be on highlighting your expertise within relevant specialist areas, along with your achievements, ensuring that you highlight your achievements by using tangible numbers.