Top Accounting Resume Concerns Addressed!


Last week I held a webinar where I critiqued an accounting resume.

With the fall semester right around the corner, now is the time to get your resume in tip-top shape.

I received a ton of questions after the resume and I thought it would be instructive to share a few of my answers in case your specific situation applies.

Here we go!

Resume Gaps

I am currently seeking employment and transitioning to becoming a CPA after being sidelined due to illness for about 4 years then I started completing my CPA requirements, as my undergraduate degree was not in accounting.  My cumulative GPA is a 3.748.  I can sit for the CPA as of this coming January.  How do I address that gap in employment and make myself more marketable?  I would love to work for the Big 4 for a couple of years.  I interview well but have no offers.  I have over 8 years of work experience in Finance and Accounting.  I like the taxation specialization and will most likely also pursue the CFE designation.  I want to eventually work as a consultant and a CPA.  Thank you for your time and attention.

Having a gap in your resume is a big deal, but overcomeable. If you have a legitimate reason for a 4-year gap, my advice: be as open as possible.

The more open you are, the more people believe you.

If you say:

“I had an illness”.

It doesn’t warrant the say empathy as:

“I spent three years on and off chemotherapy fighting kidney cancer and was supported by my family”.

The transparency and honesty makes it more believable than a vague answer that someone could make up.

I might literally put something about having a major illness right next to where I indicate I had gap years.

After that many gap years, I would also recommend working at a smaller regional or local accounting firm before applying to the Big 4. They aren’t likely to hire someone that isn’t straight out of college and has been out of the workforce for 4 years even if you had experience before that.

Computer Algorithm Search Terms

Can you also highlight keywords that a program that looks over resumes would look for so we can include them?

This is honestly one of the most ridiculous myths out there today.

I get this question all the time.

People are spreading the idea that companies are scanning resumes and only choosing ones that have the best search terms.

First off, I have never spoken to a recruiter at an accounting firm who uses a software like this.

Not saying it doesn’t exist, but it’s not their “go to”.

Second, I would never rely on submitting your resume to databases. I always recommend (as I walk through in my course) to email the recruiter, partner, or hiring manager directly. Many times nobody is monitoring the database that receives all these resumes.

There are literally hundreds of resumes being submitted every single day to a database where most likely no real human is actively reviewing the submissions in detail. And if they are, you are 1 of 100+!

A recruiter receives 2 or less resumes per day directly to their email and has a very high likelihood of reading that email.

Especially if you use the exact email template I lay out in this course.

Instead of worrying about what vocab words you should have in your resume, just never submit it to a database unless specifically asked by a company.

This approach will increase your chance of being hired drastically!

Do I have to include internships?

I had a 2-month internship but I actually left early since it was stressful and I was given no training. Should I have this on my resume? If I take it out, my GAP years look bigger.


Can you still give a good story about the internship?

If all you have to say is: “they didn’t train me well so I quit”, I would absolutely not include it on your resume.

When I hear that, it is a huge red flag. Even if it’s true. It’s a red flag.

If you can find a way focus on the positives during the interview process, I would absolutely keep it!

Uploading Your Resume To LinkedIn

Should we upload our full resumes to LinkedIn?


I recommend people tailor their resume to the specific position and company they are applying to. Your LinkedIn should have enough information for people to be interested in you.

You want them to be forced to reach out to your directly via email or phone if they want your resume. This also provides a touch point for you to sell yourself to that person.

Should I include all experience?

Should your resume include experience that is somewhat irrelevant to the position you are seeking to obtain if that is your only work experience?

Almost all jobs and internships can help toward your accounting career.

For example, waiters are excellent at customer service, which may translate into being great at serving clients in public accounting.

I like to include as much as possible to show how hard you’ve worked and how you’ve managed to stay actively employed.

But if something really doesn’t make sense because of the type of work, it’s before you started college, or messes up your timeline of employment, take it out.

Do I have a bad resume?

My GPA is 3.35 in accounting, should I show it on my resume? I already passed all four parts o the CPA exams.  I passed the CPA exams (all parts) and I did not even get one single call from employers. I think its my resume.  I graduated from college back in 2011 and currently an accounting intern. Will that look bad on my resume on why I am an intern.

My guess is that you are submitting your resume to company job portals and job postings only.

That’s a great start, but I also want you reaching out to companies directly.

I always recommend as I walk through in my course to email the recruiter, partner, or hiring manager directly with your cover letter and resume. I follow up as many times as I need to in order to get a response (like 7-10 times if need be).

If you do that, you’re response rate will be about 80%. Much better than the response rate of applying to the company job portal.

Resume gap for the CPA exam

I have a 2-year GAP cause I was studying for the CPA exam. I passed and currently doing an unpaid internship at a small CPA firm. Can I have that gap on my resume and say I was studying for the CPA exam.


In fact, I worked with a woman on reviewing her resume and she spent two years traveling and taking the CPA exam. After we got her resume up to date, she was hired full-time in 3 months.

Try to come up with another reason you have 2 years off. That is a little long to pass the CPA exam and not be working especially considering you have an 18-month window to pass the exam.

When I worked with the woman who was hired in 3 weeks, she was from Eastern Europe and it was customary to spend time traveling after college. We used that as part of her story (even though that wasn’t directly why she took the time off) and it worked very, very well!

  • Kj

    How do you explain in the interview if you are changing your career back to accounting (but does have 5+ year accounting experience) but had a gap of over 10 years? Completed accounting degree in May 2016 and eligible to sit for CPA exam but have not sat for CPA exam yet or scheduled any exam yet?