Wondering what to include on your resume?

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Your resume is your go or no-go qualifier for any job you apply for. Of course, there are others tests to pass once you submit your resume, but the first gate you will need to pass is the resume test.

As a prospective candidate, you want to know what you should include on your resume to get a good accounting job or internship. Do you need to write a cover letter? How many pages should the resume be? Should it be a PDF or Word doc? Set your worries aside. In this article, we’ll answer your questions and provide tips to smooth out the process so you can apply with confidence and present your best self.

Cover letters: Are they in or out?

It is still a good idea to take the time to write a respectful and concise cover letter. You’ll further impress the person reading your resume if you find the name of the hiring manager on the firm’s website and address them in the letter.

Good morning, Justin:

Thank you for taking the time to read my resume, first and foremost…”

Also, include three-to-four applicable skills, using the language they used in the job description. Tell them why you are qualified, what your unique experience brings to the position and tell them how much experience you have. For example: “I have 10 years of experience as an affordable housing CPA  financial consulting for closely held businesses and six years of experience analyzing equity structures to assist in succession planning and transactions.”

This shows that you read the job description, that you visited their website and that you have the longevity and/or relevant skills to perform the essential job functions for the position.

Resume Length

For years, it was common for candidates to cut out flowery language, unrelated skills and awards received to keep the resume to one page in length. Now, candidates turn in resumes that are typically one-to-two pages in length.

If you go beyond three pages, that may become tiresome for the HR manager to go through and possibly fact-check all three pages of your resume. Chances are, two or three people need to go through your resume after a program scans it for possible scams, and general irrelevancy.

In the application process, you want to remove as many hurdles as possible and still include all relevant information so keep your resume to one-to-two pages.

Resume Layout

Are you looking at templates online and wondering if you should purchase a template or go with a Microsoft Word template instead?

The answer is, it’s up to you, as long as the format is clean and organized in such a way as to present the information in a clear and upfront manner.

Don’t use too many bright colors – dark blues or browns or just plain black-and-white will suit your resume just fine.

Speaking of colors or other potential distractions, should you use a photo on your resume? For the most part, a photo is not necessary and may serve as a distraction from your resume. In accounting, being as factual and straightforward as possible is the way to go. Don’t try to overthink the layout of the resume. The important part is the information.

Use bullets to break up series of skills or awards. Don’t send in a wall of text, as this could be tiresome for the reader as well.

Timeline: A note about the timeline of positions. Make sure you double-check the months and years of the positions you held. The hiring manager will do the math and discover whether you spent six months at a position, then took a year and a half off then went back to work for three years. Make sure all of your dates are correct so you can confirm this information during the interview.

File Format

Typically, a Word document (.docx or .doc) is the most widely accepted resume file format. Sometimes managers will want to add notes or comments to documents and not everyone has the ability to edit a PDF, for example.

Keep Microsoft Word in mind when submitting your resume. If you’re using Google Docs, make sure you share or export your resume as a Word Document with the .docx or .doc suffix.

But, what do I include in the resume?

Do include relevant skills and positions, don’t include your high school timeline of dog walking and Uber driving.

You don’t need to include a “Goal” as was the trend a few years ago. Just dive in: include your name, email, phone number and city and state so the hiring manager knows where you are located.

Include relevant skills, and the timeline of your past and current positions. Include volunteer work and awards as you see fit.

Hobbies: It is acceptable, today, to include a few hobbies and interests in your resume to show your personality. Don’t use cheeky words or unprofessional terms at all. If you are a dog lover who spends a lot of time outdoors, you could say:


      • Spending time outdoors
      • Dog-walking
      • Listening to jazz

Language: Do borrow language from the job description or posting to reinforce in the hiring manager’s mind that 1.) you read the job description and 2.) you meet the requirements.

For example, if the job description includes bullets with financial consulting and affordable housing CPA experience and you haven’t yet included that in your resume, it’s a good idea to update your resume to include those terms if applicable. Never lie on your resume, as that could get you in trouble in the long run.

As a rule of thumb, though, update your resume for each job you’re applying for to appear as outstanding a candidate as possible. You want the HR manager to say, “This person has all the qualifications we’re looking for. Invite them in for an interview, right away.”

First vs. third person: Use first person if you have to, but never use third person. You don’t want it to sound like someone else wrote your resume. The ideal language includes statements and facts, without pronouns or any reference to yourself.

For example:


      • QuickBooks
      • Consulting
      • Presentations
      • Sales
      • Forecasting

Extra Tip

Since positions open daily and candidates accept offers at the drop of a hat, time is of the essence! Make sure you make time for phone, video or in-person interviews like it’s your job to get hired. Make sure your phone is on vibrate and/or the ringtone is on and enable notifications for your email so you never miss the perfect opportunity to nab the job of your dreams.

In summation, to make a great first impression with your accounting resume, send in a Word document, don’t use a photo and only include relevant positions and skills applicable to the job.

Feel free to peruse the positions we have open here at LvHJ and good luck in your job search!


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