5 Reasons to Look Beyond the Resume When Hiring for a Finance and Accounting Position

By Robert Half on August 26, 2022 at 3:30pm

Why should employers look beyond the resume when evaluating a candidate for a finance and accounting position?

Hiring the best candidate often requires looking beyond their resume for the soft skills and leadership qualities that can be difficult to translate into words. Resumes seldom reflect a job applicant’s true potential for success in a role, which can lead to employers overlooking great hires or making poor hiring decisions.

We asked several talent and recruiting managers with Robert Half’s finance and accounting permanent placement practice for their insight on why employers need to look past the resume when evaluating candidates for finance and accounting roles. We’ve lined up six top reasons based on their responses:

  1. Resumes don’t demonstrate soft skills
  2. Technical skills matter, but so do ‘intangible’ assets
  3. Candidates aren’t professional resume writers
  4. You hire people, not pieces of paper
  5. Resumes only tell half the story

1. Resumes don’t demonstrate soft skills

While it’s important to hire candidates with the desired experience, education or requirements you seek for your open position, in this incredibly competitive environment, it’s even more important to hire for what’s beyond that. Does the candidate show leadership potential and exceptional people skills, and will they enhance your organization’s culture?

You can train employees on technical skills they may need for the job, but it’s harder to teach things like work ethic, people skills and teamwork, and drive. Hire a candidate for who they are as a person and their potential to be a strong contributor to your organization for the long term. You can discover this by making an in-person or video connection during the interview process.

Stephanie Shine, vice president

2. Technical skills matter, but so do ‘intangible’ assets

Accountants are more technical by nature, often focusing more on the facts and less on the fluff of the resume. Therefore, a resume is helpful to see someone’s experience but not their intangible skills.

By not looking past the resume, you could be passing on an incredible candidate based on how eloquently they laid out their experience or background. I always suggest having an in-person interview with all candidates to learn better how their experience translates to the job and the company’s culture.

Mason Graves, recruiting manager

The resume conveys more than education and experience, so look beyond the facts and see the person it represents. Indicators to look for include:

  • Work experience that occurred while earning a degree = hard worker, multi-tasker
  • Athletic scholarship = driven, team player
  • Effective verbal and written skills = strong communicator

Skills and software can be learned. However, these traits are innate within the person and can make up for skills initially lacking. Don’t miss the opportunity to talk to the candidate and learn more about what they could bring to your company.

Lisa James, senior vice president, practice director

3. Candidates aren’t professional resume writers

Employers should look beyond the resume because candidates aren’t professional resume writers. There is so much more an employer can gather from a candidate during an interview that the candidate might not have included on the resume. It is nearly impossible to know a candidate’s personality from a resume. An initial conversation will likely uncover many attributes not included on the resume.

Scott Davis, director of permanent placement services

4. You hire people, not pieces of paper

With the current shortage of skilled talent in the market, it is more important than ever to look beyond the resume when hiring. Experience is great, but it doesn’t guarantee a successful hire. Important traits such as work ethic, motivation, the ability and desire to learn, and career aspirations don’t always show up on paper. These things are much easier to observe when having a conversation with a candidate.

Jordan Hobson, director of permanent services

5. Resumes only tell half the story

Resumes are very similar to job descriptions in that they only tell half the story about a candidate. When I speak to an employer to cover the top needs and requirements for an open role, the vast majority of the time, the job description is a shallow summary of what they actually hope for in a candidate.

Resumes are governed mainly by formatting, spacing and presentation, which sometimes constricts a candidate’s ability to convey the depth of their experience. Other times, candidates struggle to capture the technical accounting and finance strengths that a recruiter can uncover during a phone or video screen. Also, the tight candidate market for finance and accounting professionals demands we take a deeper dive with candidates whose resumes may not easily display the obvious skills required for the role.

Robert Theoudele Jr., vice president

5 Reasons to Look Beyond the Resume When Hiring for a Finance and Accounting Position - Headshots of Robert Half recruiters.

Robert Half recruiters (top row, from left): Robert Theoudele Jr., Jordan Hobson, Mason Graves and Stephanie Shine; (bottom row, from left): Scott Davis and Lisa James.

Hiring for finance and accounting roles?

Robert Half is featured on Forbes’ 2022 list of America’s Best Professional Recruiting Firms (#1). For details on how our recruiters can help you find skilled professionals for finance and accounting jobs and to search our database of job candidates, visit this page.

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