Hiring managers look at your resume for only a few seconds initially to determine if you’re interview material. Their impressions don’t necessarily come from detailed descriptions – they’re more focused on your job titles and tenure.
In this blog post, I’ll walk through each section of the resume and give advice that will help your resume stand out and get the results you want.
Some people like it, but I don’t recommend including a summary. It often includes information that’s either obvious from a quick glance of your resume, or is subjective.
Here’s the rule of thumb: If you can’t quantify it, it’s not worth mentioning. Putting that you’re well-spoken, hard-working, and a team player isn’t helpful — they’re either going to assume every applicant would say the same, or they plan to evaluate those qualities in the interview.
If you want to include a summary, make it tangible and quantifiable by saying something like, “I’m an MBA with 10 years experience standing up FP&A departments for early stage SaaS companies where I’ve managed 3+ staff and have led my current company through a successful IPO.”
2. Job Titles
Structure your job titles so they’re organized by company name. Make it even clearer by typing the company name in bold-caps. By doing so, you help the reader quickly identify where you worked.
Beside the name of each company, list the entire dates you worked there – not just the dates you worked in a position.
“Skip some of the ‘givens’ of the role – you can always discuss them in the interview if they want to know the basics. But they’re probably more interested in the projects you did and how you really made a difference.”
If you worked for a small company, or one that’s not as well-known, it’s helpful to include a 1-2 line summary to describe the company. Include quantifiable information like headcount, revenue, and international operations to grant insight into its size and complexity. A summary might say, “XYZ Company is a $150M e-commerce organization with operations in five countries.”
Below the company name (and summary, if necessary), list the positions you’ve held at the organization. List the dates you’ve been in those positions in parentheses next to each job title. If you’ve had multiple roles in the same company and they’re reasonably similar, group them together. Then, bullet your responsibilities below.
Here’s an example:
- List your details below.
The first bullet point under each job should give an overarching description of what you did. Consider including who you reported to (especially if it’s not assumed) to imply the level of responsibility, influence, and autonomy you had in your position.
These bullets should also showcase your career progression – not just describe your current role. For example, if you worked at PriceWaterhouseCoopers for seven years and had multiple roles, don’t just highlight that you’re a senior manager now. List when your promotions happened to let the reader know you were consistently promoted.
If you’ve held similar positions at multiple companies, it’s tempting to copy and paste some of the bulleted details. Don’t. Repeating yourself shows a lack of creativity and runs the risk of boring your reader.
Maybe you’ve been in accounting for 20 years and worked four different controller jobs where you oversaw AP, AR, Payroll, and SEC. Find a way to differentiate the experience. What did you actually accomplish?
Bullet points allow you to highlight the ways you moved the needle. Did you reduce the close from 15 to 10 days? Did you get the company through their first-year audit? Did you set up a new accounting system or integrate an acquired company?
Skip some of the “givens” of the role – you can always discuss them in the interview if they want to know the basics. But they’re probably more interested in the projects you did and how you really made a difference.
In this section, follow the same format you used for your job titles. For example, if you list the company names on the left and dates on the right in the job section, put the university on the left and the date on the right. Keep it uniform – this makes it easier for the reader.
“Zoom out. Step back. When you glance at your own resume, would you give yourself an interview?”
Also, consider listing “Education and Certifications” under one header, especially if you’re a CPA or CFA. This saves space and naturally flows together. If you’re a CPA, be sure to include the license number so the employer can look it up and verify your license is active.
4. Systems Skills
This section clearly summarizes and showcases your skills with ERP systems, financial planning tools, and/or other modules. You may have mentioned system skills underneath your respective job titles — list them here, too. The hiring manager may have missed these bullets as they skimmed through.
If you are a super-user or subject-matter expert, highlight that in this section. Don’t mention you’ve worked with Microsoft Office – that’s a given. Only mention Office if you’re a super-user or have extensive training for specific office applications.
5. Extracurricular/Personal Interests
If you have a significant interest that’s quantifiable and serves as a good discussion point for the interview, include it here. Perhaps you’ve run marathons, sailed the coast of the western US, or organized a mountain biking club – all of these are worthwhile. But if it wouldn’t make a good conversation, don’t bring it up on your resume.
Not passionate about a particular hobby? Just leave this section off – it’s not required and won’t reflect poorly.
How to Use Your Skills To Craft the Perfect Resume
One of your objectives as a finance professional is to figure out the story the numbers tell.
Your resume needs that same expertise.
Only include the information that matters – and portray it in a way that helps hiring managers understand a snapshot of what you’d bring to their company.
Zoom out. Step back. When you glance at your own resume, would you give yourself an interview?
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