Posted by Tamara Stanley on Friday, November 22, 2013 - 00:00
Many accounting and finance job seekers are aware of only one type of resume format: the chronological resume, in which your work history is presented in reverse order. But just because this style is the most popular doesn’t mean it’s the best option for you.
Chronological Resumes: The Good and the Bad
A chronological resume is a good option if you're pursuing a position in the accounting and finance field and have a solid and consistent record of progress. However, this format can be detrimental if you:
- Have worked exclusively in another field and are applying for a job in accounting and finance
- Are seeking an entry-level position and have almost no accounting and finance experience
- Have been a chronic job hopper and held most of your jobs for less than one year
- Have large gaps in your employment history
If you feel a chronological resume is not right for you, consider these other options instead.
The Functional Resume
The functional resume is organized around your accounting and finance skills, experiences and accomplishments rather than on specific jobs you’ve held. It omits (or mentions only in broad terms) your previous roles and dates of employment. Try a functional resume if you:
- Are an entry-level job seeker with no significant work-related experience
- Are re-entering the workforce after a lengthy absence, and little of your work history has bearing on the kind of job you are trying to find
- Have held several jobs, but those jobs do not demonstrate professional growth in accounting and finance
- Gives prominence to those aspects of your background likely to be of special interest to would-be employers
- Shifts the focus away from aspects of your background — long periods of unemployment, for example — that might hurt your chances of getting by the initial screening process
- Employers view them with suspicion, as most want to know what specific job you held that enabled you to demonstrate the skills you’re describing.
- Employers want to know how recent that experience was and, if possible, see some continuity.
The Combination Resume
The combination resume incorporates the best features of both chronological and functional resumes. Generally, it leads with a description of your functional accounting and finance skills and related qualifications, followed by a reverse-chronological employment history. The combination resume may be a good choice if you:
- Are looking to switch to a career in accounting and finance and want to highlight general skills that relate to your past jobs
- Have had no luck in getting past the screening process with a chronological resume
- Are applying for a job that interests you and that you think you can handle, but the connection between your work history and that particular job is not particularly strong
- Enables you to establish early on what you have accomplished in your career and what skills and attributes you can offer a potential employer
- Because you also will include a description of your work history, you can diffuse the suspicions that may arise when the information is omitted.
- Some employers may assume that you are attempting to conceal certain aspects of your background. (However, this is not a significant disadvantage as combination resumes are becoming increasingly common.)
Ultimately, there is no one right format that you should use when writing your resume. It might make sense to choose a certain layout for one prospective employer and a different one for another in order to best showcase your skills. But no matter which format you use, make sure your resume looks professional, provides proof of real results and is targeted to the company’s needs. The extra time you take to customize it will pay off by generating more interest from hiring managers.