Accounting and finance professionals have always embraced technology's ability to improve their job performance; from the advent of adding machines to ERP systems, we have come a long way. Yet, for some inexplicable reason, when it comes to choosing tools to help us land our next job or consulting assignment, many of us continue to rely on something as outdated as a paper resume.
While paper resumes are certainly still important, they are fast becoming the green ledger paper of the job placement world—occasionally used but never relied upon as the main tool to get the job done. The digital profile, on the other hand, is fast gaining in popularity as the most comprehensive way to "brand" yourself online. However, in finance and other industries, resistance remains in the job-hunting world against digital solutions such as online applicant tracking systems (ATS's), where you have to fill out your credentials over a series of web pages.
ATS and online profiles permit a uniform data-driven approach to completing the task of filling an open position with the most suited candidate. With recruiters and human resource departments under intense pressure to sift through an ever larger potential candidate pool to find that perfect match, use of this ever more intelligent software seems to become more widespread every year.
In fact, even if you get your paper resume through, most companies won't even hire candidates without investigating their online profiles.
According to a Deloitte Consulting LLP analysis, talent management industry sales were over $4 billion in 2013 and expected to grow by at least 20 percent this year. LinkedIn's sales in 2013 were $1.5 billion, which was 57 percent higher than the year before, and 56 percent of these sales were for recruitment subscriptions that provide companies access to online profiles.
So given this new, data-driven world, how can an accounting and finance professional possibly stand out? It's actually not that tough, particularly now that you know the behind-the-scenes process. You just need to embrace your digital persona. Here are some tips:
- Build your online profiles fully. Sites like LinkedIn are designed to build a professional profile that showcases your capabilities. A higher profile-completion percentage here actually sets you apart, since most users do not fully complete their profiles, and prospective employers typically weigh complete profiles more heavily.
- Use your online profile as a marketing tool. Your resume, your business card and your email signatures should all have unique links to your online profiles. Take advantage of sites that allow you to digitally invite contacts to view your profile.
- Increase your online visibility. Join relevant professional networks and groups and contribute to the discussions. LinkedIn is obviously a great source for this and there are groups focused specifically on accounting and finance topics.
- Build a resume that ATS's can read. An ATS can only feed your information to a client or hiring manager if it can intelligently parse it. Use a normal resume layout, and be sure to include all your skill sets. This will dramatically increase your chances of gaining "human" consideration.
- Create a great profile summary. Both online profiles and ATS systems specifically allow for a profile summary. In your resume, this should be at the top instead of your goal or objective. This is your chance to stand out and characterize yourself in your own words. So put a good deal of time into this. It's the one thing that will be seen across all media.
- Skill sets are huge. Whether it's through LinkedIn, an ATS or even a job board, the search for the right accounting and finance professional is heavily weighted toward matching the right skill sets to the position. Ensure that you put some time into making this list exhaustive. But be careful to use recognized skill sets that are universal, as opposed to company or role-specific terms. Avoid narrowly focused jargon that can't easily be searched for and found.
With this insight in mind, hopefully the next time you're looking for your next accounting or finance assignment or job, it will be with the new digital you.
About the author:
Stephen DelVecchia, CPA, is the CEO of Adaptive Professional Solutions, an online marketplace designed specifically for temporary accounting and finance professionals. He began his career in public accounting and established a track record that included financial and operating roles at companies like Corbis Corp. and Barnes & Noble, Inc. He also served as a CFO and EVP for a large staffing company which he took public in 2008. He graduated from CUNY Brooklyn College with a BA in accounting.