If you’re in the finance industry, chances are you agree that money makes the world go round. But does your resume reflect your role in that world? We don’t mean “making money” necessarily. You might be an expert in building personal wealth, but you could also be an expert in mergers and acquisitions, global development, forecasting, or financial analysis. Whatever it is, your resume must stand out as a bastion of finance-related achievement.
In this guide, we'll show you the best template to use for a finance resume, how to structure it, and what content to include so that your resume stands out. We also include finance resume examples at the entry-level, mid-level, or senior finance officer level and explain why each resume example works in each case.
Financial and business documents are factual and to the point. They contain data that is useful and exclude data that distracts. Those are the fundamental tenets you should apply to your resume.
A structured hybrid resume format, like the "clean" resume shown in this article, shows your education, skills, and qualifications on one side, and your work experience on the other. The structure makes it easy and quicker for the reader to find the information that they want. Time is money, right?
A minimalist resume would work if you are a recent graduate and don't have too much full-time experience to include. However, don’t be tempted to add any illustrations, images, or photos, or color, except for muted blues or grays. Don’t distract from the real data the reader wants to see.
So, what data should you include? Here’s a run-down of the critical elements for a finance resume.
There are six main components of a good finance resume: personal details; the objective statement; your work history; education and certifications; skills; awards and other notable achievements.
This section is straightforward. It should include your name, your telephone number, your email, and your LinkedIn URL. For mid-level and senior finance professionals, it’s important to place your certifications front and center. So, place your CFP®, CFA®, CMA, CFS, ChFC, CIC, CIMA, or CMT after your name and again under the education sector.
The resume objective, or summary statement, is an introductory statement that appears at the top of the resume. Your objective statement gives the recruiter an idea of who you are and where they want to go in the next phase of your career. The best statements include the following elements:
Well-chosen descriptive adjective (analytical, detail-oriented, insightful)
Your certifications (CFP®, CFA®, CMA, CFS, ChFC, CIC, CIMA, or CMT)
Your years of experience (2+, 6+)
What you will contribute to the employer
The candidate's most notable achievement in quantifiable terms
A good example of a resume objective statement for a senior-level finance professional is the following:
“An insightful Chief Financial Officer and licensed CFA with eight years of experience in asset management seeks senior management role with a forward-thinking organization. With 95% client satisfaction, I offer innovative wealth-building strategies based on proven metrics for a wide range of asset classes.”
If you are just starting out in your finance career or are a recent college graduate, you might not have metrics to speak of. Here’s an example of an objective statement that, nevertheless, shows your worth.
“Detail-oriented and dependable entry-level financial analyst with an outstanding education record and solid experience. Excels in accounting principles, business statistics, and asset management. Specializes in cost management, SAP, and financials.”
Note that the above statement does not state what type of role you are seeking. That’s because, at this stage, you do not want to narrow your options. Your perspective at this stage should be broad.
Next, here's how to craft the body of your resume. The main content will be your work experience. This is where the hard work starts!
The best resumes are one page long. So, it’s not necessary to list all your past jobs. Only list enough to show career progression if you are mid-level or senior-level. List the employer, your job title, and your achievements for each position that you include, and the date that you were in that role using month/year format.
The goal with your resume writing is to make each bullet point into a story about your accomplishments. Ideally, the bullet points tie together achievements and responsibilities and show a quantifiable result.
Another important factor here is to use strong action verbs to describe your accomplishments. For example, Administered, Appraised, Audited, Balanced, Budgeted, Controlled, Financed, Forecasted, Managed, Orchestrated—you get the idea.
Keywords are another important element. Many companies use applicant tracking software to filter their incoming resumes and weed out candidates who aren’t a good match based on keywords. Study the job description and look for keywords such as, “financial compliance,” “financial modeling,” “budget forecasting,” “Microsoft Excel,” “GAAP,” etc. Use these keywords wherever applicable in your resume. The more your keywords align, the greater your chance of rising to the top of the stack.
This brings us to another point. You should tailor your resume to the job description. Finance is a broad field. Depending on the position you are applying to, the hiring manager might be looking for an analyst, an asset manager, a risk specialist, or someone with another type of experience. Make sure that the experience on your resume is relevant for each job.
Let's look at examples of bullet point content for entry-level, mid-level, and senior accountants separately.
At the entry-level or staff accountant level, you probably won’t have quantifiable finance-specific achievements. In that case, when writing your bullet points, think about what responsibilities you had as a finance intern or in your part-time or contract work, or any volunteer work, and include those. Also, include any finance software that you have mastered in your bullet points and in the skills section. This is particularly important if a specific technology is mentioned in the job description.
Here are some examples:
Developed business unit reports and budget projections in conjunction with the finance team
Balanced financial data in SAP and other reporting programs
Assisted financial analyst in report writing, cash flow analysis, budget reporting, portfolio analysis, risk analysis, and financial forecasts
Conducted presentations under the supervision of the financial analyst team
Trained new hires in basic and intermediate financial analysis for report publishing
Created and presented case studies of corporate financial structures, futures markets, commodities pricing, and trading strategies
Monitored and reported on asset portfolio growth
Mastered key software packages for financial and statistical analysis
Your bullet points should do more than list responsibilities or skills, they should lay out what you have accomplished. Your achievements show what you can do if the hiring company selects you for the job.
What did you do to drive results? What was your contribution? Was it training others in a new software system, or was it accurate financial analysis? Your accomplishments are unique to you, and they are what will make you stand out from the other applicants. Where you can, use metrics to quantify the results of your efforts. For example, costs were reduced by 30%, and client satisfaction increased from 60% to 90%.
Check the job description to see what the job entails and show through your bullet points that you can provide those skills.
Don’t just focus on hard skills either, also include your accomplishments in terms of critical thinking, collaborating with other teams, communication, problem-solving, and client relations, particularly if you seek a finance manager role.
Perhaps you were charged with giving presentations to management, leading initiatives, or mentoring in your last position. Again, check the job description to see what soft skills are mentioned.
Here are some examples of bullet points for mid-level finance professionals, such as financial analysts, investment officers, loan officer, risk analyst, portfolio manager, acquisitions associate, etc.
Analyzed budgets, financial statements, financial reports, and projections for over 20 clients
Executed due diligence and a new assessment initiative that reduced risk exposure by 25%
Managed a portfolio of private grants with a valuation totaling $6 million
Spearheaded an initiative to improve client satisfaction ratings by 45%
Tracked and analyzed key financial metrics and operational procedures to foster process improvements and reduce overall costs by $500,000
Re-oriented hiring practices and reduced accounting staffing costs by 20%Synthesized and analyzed budgets and income statement forecasts with consideration for the company’s goals
Recommended courses of action that reduced operational costs by 30%
Generated reports, charts, and tables on financial information
Developed financial models adopted by 90% of asset manager
Conducting benchmarking and optimization analysis
Completed doing business studies on potential markets and developed forecast models used in one market entry effort
Identified market trends
Initiated new communications platform by coordinating with other team members
Trained and mentored five new employees
Improved process efficiency by 30% by analyzing processes and removing bottlenecks
As a senior finance professional, you have a wealth (no pun intended!) of financial experience, but not all of that needs to be on your resume. Only put our most recent achievements that are relevant to the job you are applying to. Tailor your resume!
Another reason to be discerning in what you include is to keep your resume uncluttered. Pack a punch with a few powerful examples of your contributions. Less is more here.
Don’t go back more than 10 years. Ageism is common in the recruiting world, and it’s a fine balance between showing you have the necessary experience on the one hand but not seeming that you may have antiquated approaches to today’s financial markets on the other.
Here are some examples of bullet points for senior finance professionals.
Promoted to lead financial analyst on $127 million account in only 25 months due to high-quality financial analysis and outstanding forecast accuracy
A major client account grew 40% over plan in FY20 due to newly implemented investment strategy
Generated monthly, quarterly, and annual forecasts at both the contract and account levels for 15 active projects with the highest accuracy rating among six teams
Performed ad-hoc financial analysis and delivered financial planning reports to project managers
Created a “what if” financial model that boosted revenue and operating income by 25%
Complete quarterly internal controls for 10 contracts and supported internal/external audits
Played an integral role in a Six-Sigma project to redefine business processes.
Initiated and led corporate social responsibility projects
Conducted formal and accurate presentations, briefings, meetings, and training sessions to internal and external clients
Earned the Walter Carnegie Honor Award for innovations in customer response in financial management
Managed a team of six analysts that consistently met monthly goals for financial reporting
This section is where you highlight the skills and accomplishments your potential employer wants to see. Check the job description and add any skills mentioned if you have them. Include any software systems that you have used. Also, include your soft skills as well as technical skills, such as leadership or mentoring. Keep the list relevant. Short is fine.
Highlight your technical and analytical skills, which might include using cutting-edge accounting technology if you are a recent graduate. Also include skills you gained through extracurricular activities that added to your financial acumen, such as fundraising, budgeting, and event planning.
By mid-career, your skills will be your core competencies, and they will be focused in one or two areas. List your specializations, and use the heading “Core Competencies” if you like. Accentuate your leadership and management competencies. You might also add industry presentations that you have given under “Presentations” and any publications under the heading “Publications.” These items are testaments to your capabilities and deserve a separate section on the resume.
Simply list your degrees and certifications. There is a chance that an applicant tracking system might screen out a resume that does not give a date for graduations, so it is a good idea to include the date. However, for senior finance professionals, it might be wiser not to list the year of graduation.
For entry-level accountants who may have just graduated, include your GPA if you graduated college less than three years ago and your GPA is above 3.6.
For mid-level accountants, exclude your GPA. Now that you have real-world experience, your work accomplishments are of much more interest to an employer. Remember, keep your resume as clutter-free as possible.
For finance professionals, it is critical to understand the job description and to understand what skills and characteristics the role demands. Your resume should be tailored to the job, and it should contain keywords so that applicant tracking systems will not throw it out. Lastly, always have a trusted third party proofread your resume.
Here’s a checklist.
Keep the design simple, uncluttered, and structured.
Craft a bold summary objective.
Use bullet points to describe your experience that include active verbs. Make sure your experience speaks to the job requirements on the job description.
Use metrics as proof of your accomplishments.
Always have someone proofread your resume.
This guide will stand you in good stead for your job search. Get ready for the next step in your finance career!