How to convey your experience and make your resume stand out through keywords and formatting
If you’re starting to refine your resume for a new job search, check out the top insights we’ve found to give you the best leg up in finding your next role and meeting your career goals.
First, let’s talk about resume parsing. Many companies and recruiters use parsers to automate the storage, organization and analysis of resumes. Parsing software gives companies an efficient way to streamline the screening processes. It helps identify keywords, skills, and other relevant data in order to sort through large quantities of applications when identifying the best applicants for a role. So basically, your resume will be found in a database by keyword searches. Sometimes by a specific portion of your resume, and sometimes the document as a whole.
These are the top things you want to convey in your resume:
- Longevity at each company and a steady career progression
- Prominent company names and desired industry experience (Big 4, CPA, etc.)
- Willingness to go beyond the day-to-day requirements and see the big picture
Along those same lines, these are red flags many recruiters look for:
- Jumping from company to company every 18 months or less
- Stagnating in a role for too long without moving up to the next level
- Gaps in employment
You want to make sure you’re covering the basics. If you were a Financial Reporting Manager for a publicly-traded company, spell it out. In this case, you want to make sure to use the words SEC Reporting, 10-K, 10-Q, XBRL, etc. Recruiters for major corporations are usually not ex-accountants. Make it easy for them to identify you as a top candidate!
Focus on accomplishments and use specific metrics. You implemented NetSuite in 6 months, saved x dollars by integrating x processes, saved the company $200k by coming in on time and under budget, etc.
List your skills and include a separate list for systems you’ve used. Make sure to also mention these skills and systems throughout your resume.
Keywords and Formatting
Put your City, State and Zip code on your resume. This is for distance parsing and screening you for jobs that are close to your home. If you are concerned about privacy or profiling based on your zip code, choose a nearby zip code, perhaps in a local corporate area. If you are moving, use the zip code for your new city.
Put your name and contact information at the top of the first page, but not in the header. For parsers, this creates the title of the document. Some parsers do not parse the header correctly, so they will never know who you are.
Do not limit yourself to one page, especially if you are five or more years into your career. It’s the digital age, and most recruiters won’t be printing your resume out. If you do use more than one page, put your name, phone and email in the header of every page after page one.
Group the total date-span with a company on one line. Then, place sub-dates next to titles under the company name. For example:
- ABC Enterprises, July 2015 – January 2021
- Controller, October 2019 – January 2021
- Senior Accountant, February 2017 – September 2019
- Staff Accountant, July 2015 – January 2017
This shows that you were with the company for long period of time AND that you have proven yourself to be a promotable candidate. If you list the company name out with each promotion, a quick scan of your resume or a digital parser may turn your track record of success into an inability to keep a job for very long. Make it recruiter-proof.
Make sure your LinkedIn profile mirrors your resume.
Finally, don’t get lost in the database! Before you apply, try reaching out to any recruiters you’ve worked with to see if they are already working with the company. Once you apply online, you often get ‘locked-in’ to a database, and your recruiter may not be able to discuss your background with the hiring manager. A quick phone-call or email prior to applying could be the difference between getting the job and getting lost in digital purgatory.
If you found a role you’re interested in and want to see if we are working with the company, you’re curious about what’s available in the accounting and finance industry in the Greater Los Angeles, and/or how best to make your next move to meet your goals and needs, give us a call. We’re here to help!