Writing a Finance Resume

Writing a Finance Resume

Finance is a competitive field thanks to the prestige and high pay that accompany many positions, meaning that a job seeker would need an outstanding finance resume to get noticed. The finance industry is made up of sectors including banking, asset management, venture capital, insurance, and others.

Beyond the obvious factors—such as attending an exceptional school, getting great grades, choosing the right field of study, and landing a coveted summer internship—what should a finance resume include?

Accomplishments

While focusing on achievements over responsibilities is good advice for job seekers in any field, it is especially important for those seeking a career in finance, which is a competitive industry that prioritizes data and results. Consider a resume showing a proven, quantifiable track record of success a necessity. Accomplishments that can be backed up with numbers include ones related to budget management, increasing efficiency, increasing earnings, reducing costs, training or building teams or departments, works published or presented, and more.

Skills and Licenses

Finance positions tend to require applicants to have advanced knowledge of Excel, plus experience with other specialized tools based on the role (for example, accounting roles will ask for experience with QuickBooks, NetSuite, or similar products). Instead of just claiming “advanced Excel skills,” as is common, job seekers should spell out on their resumes what they can do in Excel. Adding specifics such as HLOOKUP and VLOOKUP, or pricing stock options with the Black-Scholes Formula, can help get a resume noticed by an applicant tracking system or a human hiring manager. PowerPoint skills can be nearly as desirable Excel skills.

Many jobs in finance require specific licenses or certifications, and for the sake of clarity, these belong under a header separate from technical skills. According to a study on recruiter behavior by TheLadders, recruiters spend 6 seconds reviewing each individual resume—thus all information needs to be relevant and easy to find. There are numerous examinations administered by Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA), and many finance positions require candidates to have passed one or more of them. Series 7 and Series 63 are among the most common.

Though it may be tempting to save space by using abbreviations, don’t rely on abbreviations alone—they aren’t always recognized by applicant tracking systems. Be sure to spell things out, and, to make sure all bases are covered, try to include a second mention that is abbreviated.

Keywords

Kim Isaacs, a resume expert with Monster.com, has compiled an extensive list of keywords for reference for anyone writing a finance resume. Useful for a wide range of positions, it includes titles, certifications, tools, tasks, and more. GAAP, value-added analysis, P&L management, and data warehouse reporting are just a few of the entries. In finance, as in all fields, it is important to pay attention to a particular job listing when choosing specific resume keywords. The presence of the right keywords is largely what gets a resume noticed by an applicant tracking system.

Format

Bold, attention-getting resume formats are suitable for some fields, but finance is not one of them. Colorful and unique resumes are best used in creative fields such as graphic design, or at companies with distinctly open-minded and creative cultures. (For example, an internal applicant at Zappos successfully submitted her resume in cake form.) Sleek and traditional is the way to go when applying for jobs in finance.

See also:

12 Accomplishments to Help You Write Your Best Resume

Resume Format Advice to Beat Applicant Tracking Systems

8 Things You Need to Know About Applicant Tracking Systems

Resume News from Around the Web: Week of 9/22

Resume News from Around the Web: Week of 9/22

Here are a few of the most interesting stories on resumes published this week:

Want a Killer Resume? Think Like a Salesperson

This AOL Jobs article by Marcelle Yeager breaks down, section by section, how to work on your resume so that it markets you effectively. She lists a few questions to ask yourself in the process of generating a list of accomplishments, and offers often-overlooked advice about the work history section: include a brief description of each of your previous employers. “Is it a nonprofit or private company? If it has significant revenue, include that. You can also write how many people work there. All of this gives the reader a better idea of where you’ve worked and what you are used to.” This can be especially useful if you have worked in a niche industry, or for small companies or start-ups.

Follow these tips when submitting a resume online

In this blog post, Kim Thompson of the Houston Chronicle talks about what you need to take into consideration when applying for jobs online. Namely, you need to modify your resume format with applicant tracking systems in mind. “If you apply for jobs online—and that’s virtually everyone—you need to make sure your resume is formatted properly or it simply won’t be seen.” In addition to using proper formatting and file types, she mentions the need to use targeted resume keywords throughout.

The Resume Section That Matters More Than You’d Think

In this blog post for Time via The Muse, Lily Zhang offers advice on creating a killer Skills section in three steps. First, review the job description; second, research the job title on LinkedIn; and third, tailor the section according to your experience and goals. To help job seekers avoid one common resume mistake, she notes that, “While you’ll sometimes find soft skills, like organizational or communication skills, listed as qualifications, it’s important to point out that ‘Skills’ sections are usually reserved for hard skills.” She also offers advice on how to structure a Skills section, and where to place it on your resume based on your experience.

See also:

12 Accomplishments to Help You Write Your Best Resume

Resume Format Advice to Beat Applicant Tracking Systems

5 Things You Need for Proper Resume Format

Resume Format Advice to Beat Applicant Tracking Systems

Resume Format Advice to Beat Applicant Tracking Systems

Applicant tracking systems are widely used by employers today, making it important for job seekers to know which resume format features work best for these systems. An ATS is a software system used by employers to receive, store, and sort resumes. Many people are aware that they need to use targeted keywords to be chosen for consideration by an applicant tracking system, but fewer are aware of the importance of their formatting choices.

According to Bersin & Associates, a resources consulting firm, the cost of hiring a new employee runs about $3,500; applicant tracking systems are one tool employers use to try to find the best candidates while also streamlining the hiring process. They may not be perfect, but they aren’t going anywhere, so job seekers need to plain their resume format accordingly.

Skip tables and columns

While these formatting features can be visually appealing, most applicant tracking systems can’t read them. An ATS parses the information in a resume and enters the relevant information into the corresponding fields in its database. Entering skills into a table to make a Skills section look uniform is a fairly common resume practice, but it’s one that backfires in this case. And because an ATS doesn’t necessarily scan a resume in the same order that a human would, the presence of columns can throw everything into disarray.

Don’t use graphics

In many cases, even one graphic is enough to trip up an ATS so that it can’t read a resume. While it’s widely known that resumes should not contain photographs, other types of graphics are more easily overlooked. In resume templates, it is increasingly common to see icons in the contact information section indicating phone numbers, email addresses, and home addresses. If using a resume template, choose one without these. And don’t forget to actually spell out “phone,” “email,” and “address” in front of the corresponding information so the ATS can easily recognize it.

Stick to standard typefaces and characters

Straightforward and simple resume format choices are the best bet when considering applicant tracking systems. This includes typefaces such as Arial, Georgia, Tahoma, Trebuchet, and Verdana. Standard bullet points may look, well, standard—but they present no problem for applicant tracking systems, while many special characters and symbols do. This even includes accented letters. Non-standard spacing (such as adding extra spaces after letters) can also throw off applicant tracking systems.

Consider the file type

PDFs have the benefit of preserving a document’s original formatting, making them a common choice for resumes, but they can’t be read by most applicant tracking systems. The best options are .doc or .docx file types (that is, Word documents). Some, but not all, applicant tracking systems can read .rtf and .txt files.

Don’t try to game the system

The importance of keywords to applicant tracking systems means that there are some commonalities with search engine optimization—including the fact that some people inevitably try to get quick results using shortcuts. Enough people have tried to trick applicant tracking systems by including long strings of keywords in white text (visible to the ATS, but almost certain to go unseen by a human reader) that some have started penalizing candidates for doing this.

One additional tip: When applying for a job online, fill out every field—even those marked “optional.” The more information given to the ATS, the more chances it has to deem an application a good match. Besides, with hundreds of applications per position, hiring managers have to find some way to trim the pool of candidates to a reasonable number. Submitting a cover letter may not be required, but hiring managers might choose to only review the applications of those who did submit cover letters. Applicant tracking systems can scan cover letters just like resumes, making the cover letter another opportunity to be seen as a match for the role.

See also:

8 Things You Need to Know About Applicant Tracking Systems

Top Resume Formats in 2014

5 Things You Need for Proper Resume Format

8 Things You Need to Know About Resume Keywords