Is it time to update your accounting resume? Despite what some people think, the answer to this question is always “yes.” You never know when accounting job opportunities will come along, and, presuming you’re interested, you’ll need to pounce on it right away.
But if your accounting resume has been gathering dust for the past several years, speed to market won’t be your greatest asset.
Put a reminder on your calendar at regular intervals in the year to update your resume. Or you can use specific events as times to tackle the task. Each time you complete a new major project, for example, or have a performance appraisal, feed this information into your resume while it’s still top of mind.
These periodic adjustments shouldn’t be limited to just career milestone updates, though. Styles and hiring-manager preferences change from time to time, so you’ll also want to consider whether a bigger revamp is needed.
Here are the top 5 things that should be on every accounting resume today:
1. Start with the heading
Yes, believe it or not, I’ve seen resumes that don’t list the basics here. A heading should include your name, snail-mail address, email address and appropriate phone number. Warning: If you're working, don’t list a work phone unless your supervisor knows you’re job hunting.
2. Use an executive summary
Use an executive summary in place of a job objective. While the objective defines, in two to three sentences, your employment goals, the executive summary is a short paragraph that highlights your skills and experience right at the top of the page. Why is a summary better? It’s a way to convey your most impressive accomplishments at the outset. Also, it guards against being ruled out because you’ve stated your goals too narrowly in the job objective.
3. Showcase your work history
It’s kind of a no-brainer for me to say you’ll want to list your career accomplishments. But if they’re not properly presented, they may not make the kind of impression on hiring managers you’re hoping for. Focus on what you actually achieved in each of your roles. Professionals often give an exhaustive list of their responsibilities but fail to say how they made a quantifiable, on-the-job difference.
4. Examine your education section
How detailed your education section is depends on how new you are to accounting. Generally, the further along you are in your career, the fewer details and emphasis you should put on your education.
5. Include a cover letter
While a cover letter isn’t technically an item on your accounting resume, it’s critical to include one along with it. Now that positions are primarily posted online, a lot of folks think cover letters have gone the way of embossed stationery. The truth is, when you do have a means to submit a letter, it can be a good way to distinguish yourself in a crowded field of applicants. It’s also a great place to show that you’ve researched the company and job, which demonstrates resourcefulness and a sincere interest in the job.
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Editor's note: This post was published in 2013 and was updated recently with more current information.