Not all accounting jobs are alike. Employers in large companies or not-for-profit organizations have different types of requirements and the job opportunity might be for: 

  • Accounts receivable supervisor 
  • Accounts payable supervisor
  • Payroll person
  • Cost analyst
  • Junior accountant
  • Senior accountant
  • Accounting supervisor/manager
  • Controller

Each of these positions has specific work experience and academic requirements. The above openings usually require that the candidate have experience in large financial software packages such as Oracle Financials, SAP, Great Plains or other ERP systems. 

The candidate looking for one of the above positions should have a resume that is job specific and tailored to the requirement that has been posted. It is very important to realize that there could be several hundred (yes hundred) people who apply for one position. Therefore it is imperative that your resume be focused and concise. 

Resume architecture 

 I recommend a header box that contains your personal information: name, address, city, province, postal code and telephone number in the header section of the resume.

 The next section of the resume should contain a text box that clearly articulates your career work objective. You may insert something to the effect that: “I am looking for an entry level accounting position to coincide with my entry into a professional accounting course study program.”  

Next you should include a section that I call skill and abilities. This will contain key experience that you have obtained at other jobs. Include such marketable skills as: 

  • Experience with Oracle and SAP financial modules
  • Any other financial software experience.
  • Financial statement preparation and analysis.
  • Cash flow management.
  • Budgeting and forecasting.
  • Preparation of year end working paper file for external accountants.
  • Management of staff and departmental budget.
  • Experience with employers who have gone through corporate reorganizations.
  • Strong proficiency in Excel and use of macros. 

The next section will be your employment chronology. This should go from the most recent employment and go back no more than 10-12 years. It should show progressive career evolution. Here is an example of what you would enter in a chronological work log: 

  • 2008- Present, Accounting Manager, Post Corporation, (location of business). I supervised 5 staff members and prepared monthly financial statements using Great Plains software as well as being the lead in the annual budget process in an organization with 225 employees and revenue of $32 million.

 The skills and abilities should be evident based on the wording of your employment chronology. You should create a short narrative for each position in descending chronology. There should be no time gaps in your resume. 

The next section would contain your academic achievements. This could look like: 

  • 2009- present, Society of Management Accountants, CMA course study program, Level 4.
  • 2004-2008, Bachelor of Business Administration (Honours), (University or college name and location) 

You can insert professional development courses here but only if they augment your resume. The last insertion is very simple and it is a one line “bullet” 

  • References available upon request. 

You should have 2-3 references (at least two of whom are business references). It goes without saying that all of your listed references should be contacted ahead of time and asked if their names can be used as a reference. Make sure that they are aware of the context in which their names are being used.

 So, your resume should be about two pages in length. It should be clear and concise. Make sure it is free of grammatical errors. A resume that is too long or redundant will be skipped over by recruiters. Accounting departments that are looking for new staff positions use the yellow marker approach when screening resumes. If you possess the skill set or sets they need, they will put a yellow line through that skill on your resume and you will be called for a first interview. 

You should prepare an additional sheet with a reference list. This contains the two or three references that have agreed to their name being used as a reference. You should list the individual’s name, organization or simply list as a “personal reference.” There should be a home and/or work number at which they may be reached. Do not include their e-mail address. This should be brought with you to a job interview but not given out unless requested.

Your resume is the most important document in your search for an accounting job. It must be relevant, straightforward and give the potential employer a good idea of your career intentions, persistence and progress. Each new accounting job builds the foundation of your resume and increases your marketability. 

This guest post was written by Bruce Collie, CGA. Bruce is a self employed accountant in Ottawa, teaches small business accounting and delivers business courses. He  has his own website @ “Ottawa Bizz2Bizz Blog.”