The Characteristics of an Accounting Résumé

Whether you are applying to a large firm, and accounting department or a small business, there are specific rules to be respected in this sector when it comes to writing a résumé.

Focus on the “mixed” résumé

Although a functional résumé allows work experiences to be explained in detail, it is less useful to help understand an accountant’s career. The Ordre des comptables professionnels agréés du Québec (CPA) proposes the compromise of a mixed résumé:

“Functional résumés are less popular than chronological résumés and often criticized for being hard to read,” we read on the site. “However, a mixed résumé (a skills section followed by experience and achievement sections) is an interesting option.”

Include a description of businesses in work experiences

In accounting more than in any other field, the size of the company has a direct effect on the nature and complexity of the tasks carried out by the accountant.

That’s why it is advisable (by HEC Montreal among others) to include a description of the businesses for which you have worked, including the business line and the number of employees.

Consider the importance of titles

In general, job seekers are advised to include as many designations as possible that can indicate their professional field – this lets them stand out more often in recruiters’ keyword searches. 

The advice is all the more true in accounting, where there are many job titles (accountant, CPA, accounting clerk, bookkeeper, accounting technician, financial analyst, assistant comptroller, etc.). Take care therefore to indicate all the titles that concern you in more than one section of the résumé.

Also, CPA Quebec recommends emphasizing the CPA designation – for those who have it – in the résumé heading, since “it inspires confidence in employers”.

Flee generic descriptions

The skills and achievements sections of the accountant’s résumé tends to be terribly generic, due to the uniformity of accounting practices.

L’Oeil du Recruteur suggests going beyond generalities and including specific skills related to mastery of accounting software:

“In your section of technical skills (…), write in complete sentences that give a better idea of your comfort level. For example, “Using the VLOOKUP function, produce pivot pivot tables and program macros with Microsoft Excel.”

Always personalize…

Of course, there are elements of the résumé that remain consistent from one field to another. Ideally, the résumé is personalized according to the company you are addressing. The professional objective is personalized, as well as the task descriptions, by emphasizing concrete results you achieved through work experience.

Finally, try to present a clear, reliable, structured and accurate result, in the image of the accounting profession!

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