The process of creating a resume is not intuitive. No one is born knowing the unspoken rules of business and professionalism—rather, we learn about these nuances and guidelines through research, career service centers, and professional experiences. If you are an accounting student looking to create or perfect your resume, Aronson is here to help! Here are five easy steps that you can take to polish your resume:
1. Use a clean, consistent format
This first step is fundamental. If your resume is difficult to read, employers might not take the time to read it! You want your resume to be as easy to peruse as possible. Use a clean, consistent format that separates your experiences into categories (such as Education, Professional Experiences, and Extracurriculars). Use a standard font style and size – I recommend Times New Roman, size 11 or 12. Though it can feel tempting to list every experience and accomplishment, it is important to keep your resume concise and consolidated to one page.
2. Indicate your CPA eligibility year
If you plan to pursue a career in public accounting, you are undoubtably familiar with the AICPA’s 150 hour requirement for obtaining a CPA license. In the accounting industry, selection for internships and entry-level positions is often determined by one’s CPA eligibility date, rather than graduation date. Therefore, it is worthwhile to denote when you will complete 150 credits and become CPA eligible in the “Education” section of your resume.
3. Format your bullet points as accomplishment statements
When drafting bullet points on your resume, focus on your skills and the ways in which you made an impact, rather than simply listing tasks and duties from your previous jobs and experiences. Begin each accomplishment statement with a strong action verb (make sure all of your statements use the appropriate verb tense!). Emphasizing the impact you made connects the dots for employers, who are trying to predict what each candidate could accomplish at their company. Below is an example of a basic bullet point versus a professional accomplishment statement.
Basic: Participated in company’s charity event
Accomplishment Statement: Collaborated with 275-person team to raise $7,103 for the Hopkins Quality of Life Research Fund
4. Quantify your experiences
Keeping your audience in mind when writing your resume is critical. If you are applying to internships and jobs in the accounting industry, you should craft your resume with the knowledge that it will be read by accountants. Because you are tailoring your resume for an audience with an affinity for numbers, it is advantageous to quantify your experiences. Think about where you can insert numbers as you review each bullet point. How much money was raised at an event? How many people did you lead? Did you exceed a goal by a certain percentage point? Quantifying your experiences not only makes your resume more appealing to more analytically-minded individuals, but it also adds important detail to your accomplishment statements.
5. Review, review, review!
The accounting profession requires extreme attention to detail. Submitting a resume with typos or spelling errors can be a quick way to disqualify yourself from a desired opportunity. Though editing your own work is necessary, even the keenest eye will miss an error after looking over his/her work on repeat. To avoid mistakes, it is advantageous to ask multiple people to review your resume. If you are a student, you should start at your university career office—you are already paying for the service! I recommend having three people look over your resume before you start submitting applications.
Your resume is a work in progress. As you continue to develop professionally, this document will change and improve alongside you. We hope that this guide assists you as you begin your search for jobs, internships, and externships in the accounting industry. Taking these five steps will ensure that your resume is ready to be shared with the world—or at the very least, with employers!