The type of rèsumè you need to prepare for accounting careers depends on the level of education and experience you have. The most common rèsumè is a “reverse chronological” rèsumè that starts with your most recent job first, followed by the one before that, and so on. These rèsumès are most often used by recent high school and college graduates or when you are seeking a job in the same field. High school graduates should list any accounting course that they have done well in.
Remember that the purpose of your rèsumè is to sell yourself. Think about your rèsumè from the perspective of the company, not from your own perspective. Don’t start the rèsumè with your objective, as this tells the employer only what you want, not how you will meet their needs. Start instead with a two- or three-line summary that is tailored to the job you are seeking. For example, if the company needs a budget analyst, start the rèsumè with any strengths you have that are related to analytical and communication skills.
Next list the jobs you have had, even if they were only summer jobs. These show that you have worked to obtain your education. Use action verbs to describe the jobs. Don’t simply say what the duties were. For example, if you were a file clerk in the summer, say something like this: “maintained files for doctor’s office, speeding billing and collections.”
After the jobs, describe your educational achievements. List your high school if you have only a high school diploma. If you have a degree, list the colleges or universities, the degree, date conferred, and any honors. If you are a recent college graduate, list your GPA. If you have completed additional coursework or obtained licenses, list these as well.
If you have experience in a financial field and are seeking work at a different company, then tailor your rèsumè to that specific company. Look at the advertisement and emphasize in your rèsumè the things you have accomplished that the company is seeking. Again, use action words and describe accomplishments rather than simply listing the tasks performed. For example, if you were in accounts receivable you could say something about your collection rate, especially if you reduced the outstanding balances.
If you are changing fields from a different industry to an accounting career, it will probably be beneficial to write a “functional rèsumè.” In a functional rèsumè, accomplishments are described by action verbs, but the outcome is put in terms that might apply to any industry. For example, rather than saying, “Managed a team of nine people who did gas accounting for a natural gas pipeline,” draw out accomplishments related to problem-solving and analysis.
List your major accomplishments. Follow this with a chronological list of the companies you worked for, the titles you held, and the dates of employment. Finally, list your education and certifications.
Try to keep all rèsumès to only two pages at the most. Remember that the person reviewing the rèsumè is likely to skim it and read only the first few paragraphs before deciding either to toss it or read the rest. Leave “white space” in the rèsumè. Don’t crowd it, use unusual fonts or colors, or make it difficult to read.