Experience is a critical component of your job application, but it shouldn’t be limited to bookkeeping work.
Most job ads will ask for ‘suitably qualified’ or ‘experience in a similar role’ in an effort to attract the best candidates, however that doesn’t mean that only experienced bookkeepers should apply. Applicants with relevant experience in a similar industry, or those who have demonstrated the ability to run their own business can add significant value to an organisation. Provided they have acquired the practical skills necessary to do the job (for example, accounting software and basic bookkeeping tasks), there is no reason why they should not be considered for the role.
In this article we’re going to examine a job ad for a Bookkeeping Assistant and compare it to a sample resumé from an applicant who is currently self-employed in a similar industry. Our applicant recently completed a MYOB & Xero Bookkeeping PLUS certificate, however they do not have any relevant experience working as a bookkeeper.
Let’s identify the skill gaps that are preventing this application from progressing further, and find out what can be done to align this resumé more closely with the employer’s expectations.
The Job Ad
At first glance, an applicant might assume that they need two years experience as a bookkeeper in order to qualify for an interview with this company, however it’s important to note the following:
- The company is a Registered Training Organisation (RTO) in mining and construction. Job seekers with relevant experience in HR and training, or those with admin experience in the mining sector may be of interest to the employer.
- The tasks and responsibilities are in line with our applicant’s skill set as demonstrated by the completion of their bookkeeping training certificate. There is no mention of a specific accounting software package such as MYOB or Xero, only Accounts payable/receivable. This could mean that the company uses in-house software or multiple systems, or that training may be provided on the job.
- Soft skills such as strong work ethic, good communication skills and attention to detail are highly valued but these are not specific to bookkeeping experience
A mature person with experience running their own training business will have a distinct advantage over a payroll assistant who left school three years ago.
Although the payroll assistant has experience in bookkeeping, their understanding of the training industry and their ability to liaise with customers and stakeholders may be limited.
When updating your resumé to apply for a specific role, your objective is to match as many of your skills and attributes as you can to the advertised requirements. That doesn’t mean that you should fabricate information or embellish your resumé with irrelevant details. Your focus should be on matching the keywords in your resumé to the requirements of the job.
Many larger companies use an Application Tracking System (ATS) to scan applications. Smaller businesses may not use software to screen their job applications, however keywords are just as important when a human eye is scanning your resumé for the words and phrases that match the requirements of the role.
How could we improve this resumé to get it noticed by a recruiter?
It’s clear that this applicant has relevant experience in the training industry, but their duties are not related to bookkeeping.
Furthermore, our applicant recently completed a certificate in Xero and MYOB, so it would be worthwhile adding a Skills section at the top of the resumé to highlight specific competencies that match the job requirements.
- Proficient in Xero accounting software
- Microsoft Office (Advanced)
- Accounts payable/receivable
- Bank account reconciliation
- Payroll processing
We can then expand the Duties section to include tasks that the applicant performed in other roles, such as:
- Filing and record keeping
- General administration
- Client liaison
We can also add some Additional Attributes that are NOT listed in the ad, but which will add credibility to the application and help the candidate to stand out from the pack.
- Fast learner
- Excellent communicator
- Strong customer service skills
- Problem solving abilities
- Negotiation skills
Achievements and Goals
This is also a good opportunity to mention Achievements such as:
- Proficiency in other languages
- Awards (School, business, sport etc.)
Finally, you can also add Goals that demonstrate your enthusiasm and drive to succeed.
- Enrolment in further studies.
- Long-term plans for promotion.
- Non-work related goals such as sporting achievements or saving to buy your own home.
Just because you don’t have all of the experience requested by a potential employer, it doesn’t mean that you should automatically disqualify yourself from the running.
Most job ads are a wish list. The employer would ideally like to have ALL of the skills, attributes and experience listed in the ad, but realistically they expect that the successful candidate will not meet all of these requirements.
At the end of the day it’s going to be a trade-off between what this candidate can offer the company and which types of work experience will contribute the most value to the business.
MYOB & XERO PLUS Training Course and Bookkeeping Certificate
Get the software skills and procedural knowledge you need to compete for the best bookkeeping jobs. This training package is ideal for jobseekers who are looking to transition into bookkeeping work from other industries.
Resume Review – Bridging the Gap Between Potential and Success
You’d be forgiven for thinking that your resumé only needs updating when you change jobs or complete a training course. Twenty years ago this would have been acceptable, however due to recent technological advances and the increasing volume of applications employers have changed the way they screen job applications.