Drafting an accounting resume should be nothing new for you, but have you ever reviewed a resume on behalf of your company? I have.
I started my job at an investment bank and was part of the team who screened resumes for first-round interviews of the analysts’ program (yes, this was done by junior bankers and not HR professionals). This was typically done after a long day, and the stack was thick, like 3-4 inches, so I must have been reviewing hundreds of resumes in one go.
The most efficient way to process the pile was by elimination. I looked at the GPA. Anything below 3.0 was out. More than 2-3 typos? Out. Ugly formatting? Out.
Then, I skimmed through the text. This was more of a subjective process because we weren’t asked to look for distinctive traits or experiences. We were told to pick the ones we “liked.” I picked my favorites based on:
It is pretty hard to work on bettering your grades and landing internships once you graduate. Also, it’s challenging to fit your resume to match the profile of your reviewer because you never know who that person will be.
But you can definitely try to make some contact with existing employees and include something unique in your accounting resume so that everyone wants to invite you for an interview.
I have seen quite a few “Miss Texas” and part-time models on accounting resumes. And while this is interesting, you run the risk of being interviewed by people who are only interested in what you look like. In my experience, my peers who selected models had almost no intention of providing the interviewee with an offer, regardless of how well they interviewed.
But if you have done something extraordinary, like you have set up a non-profit organization in Africa, this is a “hook” that almost always works to get people’s attention.
Also, a hook is much more impactful than a resume objective statement; these statements just take up valuable space on your resume, so go against your desire to include one.
We had 4-5 analysts reviewing the same stack of resumes, and our picks were often strikingly similar. That’s why most people either get no follow-up or lots of follow-ups from their resumes.
And if you’re pursuing big 4, discover how to make your big 4 resume shine. (Don’t forget what you learned here though — apply all the tips you can!)
The old school approach has always suggested an “objective” at the beginning of your resume, stating your desired job and field.
I am not a fan of this. Let me explain.
1. No Need to State the Obvious
If you are joining a standard program such as those offered in Big 4, or management trainee program in the Fortune 500 companies, stating the objective is not necessary because, well, there isn’t much to say other than you are interested in joining that particular program.
There is no point saying the obvious and wasting valuable space in your resume.
2. You Said What You Want, But What’s Your Value-Add to the Company?
If you are contacting a recruiter for general positioning in the accounting department, then it *might* be helpful to say what you are looking for. Examples:
The problem is, while you state what you want from the company, you are not telling the reader why they want you. The recruiter only cares whether you are a good candidate for the company, not vice versa. That’s why I don’t think an objective statement will do you any good.
3. It’s Pretty Lame Anyway
It’s pretty hard to make an accounting resume objective sound impressive no matter how you frame it (because, again, it is a self-centered statement). If you can’t wow the recruiter, don’t bother.
I understand that in some culture / country it is customary to put in such an accounting resume objective on your CV. If so, it’s totally fine; but if you are looking for a job in the US, I’d recommend that you skip it.
A cover letter is a much better way to express your interest to the firm. We will go through this in the next post.