Getting an internship and your first official accounting job can be one of the quickest ways to accelerate your accounting career. It can be a foot in the door at your future employer or actual accounting experience for your resume. Your resume along with your LinkedIn profile are most likely the first gates to getting an interview. If you don’t seem qualified and don’t stick out, you may not get through the first gate.
At the top of resume it should clearly state your name and contact information. Your contact information should consist of your address, phone number, and email address. This should be a no brainer.
After your contact information you should add a section titled “Objective”. This lets the potential employer know what you are specifically looking for from them. For an internship and entry level position one sentence will be enough. In the objective you essentially are stating what you want while describing skills you have. A good example of an objective for an accounting job:
“Seeking an internship utilizing analytical skills, attention to detail, and a strong work ethic”
In the example above, you are telling the potential employer that you are looking for an internship and also saying that you have analytical skills, an attention for detail, and a strong work ethic. These are all traits that most accounting positions require.
After your objective you will state your education. This is where you will show your college, major, and your expected graduation date. If you have a good GPA this is where you should include it. Most colleges will give you an overall college GPA and then also your specific major GPA when you are a junior or senior. You can include one or both if they are good. I recommend setting a cutoff of 3.0. However, some may even not include the GPA unless it is 3.2 or better. It will depend on the competiveness of your program and school. If your GPA is under the cutoff leave it off and wait for them to bring it up if you get the interview.
Putting together this stand out resume for an internship can be one of the most difficult resumes you will put together because of the lack of work experience you have at this point in your life. The good news is that most candidates will be in the same boat as you. This means you may have to get creative with the way you present your work experience as opposed to how the other candidates present their work experience. For example, a job working at a local gym should not look like this:
Front Desk Staff
-Greet members as they walked into the facility
-Collect gym membership dues and refunded customers
-Clean and fix gym equipment
The job description above does not contain any accounting key words that employers are looking for aka it is not tailored for an accounting job. The above snippet also does not show personal responsibility or initiative. Using the same job description as above, but with tailoring to an accounting job, the front desk job should look like this:
Front Desk Staff
-Lead front desk services for a gym with 300 members
-Manage daily financial transactions including collection and refunding of membership dues
-Maintain 85+ pieces of gym equipment including cleaning and repair
The snippet now contains some key accounting terms, shows responsibility, and initiative. Employers want to see how your current job could correlate into one of the accounting internship positions. Managing the membership dues and refunds share some of the same types of responsibilities as handling AR and AP. Help the potential employer see this correlation, so that you seem qualified.
Potential employers want to see responsibility, show them that you took personal responsibility for a task. Leading guest services show initiative and responsibility a lot better than simply saying you greet members as they walk into your facility. Show the potential employer that you could lead a section of an audit or be responsible for timely AP.
Also notice the addition of the “300 members” and the “85+”. Another tip for your job description is to include specific numerical amounts. Numerical amounts help people visualize.
Following the job descriptions will be your skills section. This should be a list of bullet points of specific skills you have. I would focus on computer skills. These are going to be some of the most important skills employers will be looking for. Advanced Excel, Advanced Access, and Advanced Powerpoint are all good skills to put down. If your college introduces you to any ERP system make sure to include this as well. Any exposure to SAP, Oracle, Infor, or Sage is huge and will go a long way on a resume. These are the systems a lot of the biggest companies run on.
If you have any foreign language skills this is a great area to include them on your resume. Many large companies operate in multiple countries, so speaking another language could be very valuable.
Lastly, include any clubs or affiliations you belong to. These can help establish connections with those reviewing your resume because they may have been involved with the same clubs at one time too. This is especially true for prominent fraternities and sororities. All types of clubs should be included even if they are recreational such as intramural sports. Including these help show that you are involved in other activities besides just school and that you can manage your time effectively. It can also help explain a lower GPA as well. This can be a real saving grace. Most employers will pass over a 4.0 student that is not involved in an outside activities in fear that they can effectively manage their time or they do not have the best social skills. Employers typically like well-rounded people because they can handle multiple relationships and tasks, so be sure to show your involvement.