Accountant Resume Tips
Accounting is one of those jobs that always presents a challenge. You have to be all over the details and work to deadlines carved in stone.
Having the technical know-how to be an accountant is one thing, but there’s more to the job than just being able to juggle the numbers nowadays.
There’s one question that we always get asked about this.
Is it possible to use one resume to apply for all accounting jobs?
The short answer: No.
Every job that you apply for is going to need a bespoke accounting resume that’s targeted at landing you the accounting job that you’re perfect for.
We’ve put this guide together so we can share our top tips on how to make an accountant resume so your application can shine brighter than the rest and get you invited for an interview.
Our free resume builder lets you build the perfect resume for your dream job in just a few minutes, so you can get the application sent off today!
Accountant’s Resume: The Basics
As an accountant, it is not enough to showcase your technical skills.
For instance, being able to convert complex numbers to simple words for the company’s investors and stakeholders is an important soft skill worth mentioning in your resume.
Because of this, you need to pay attention to the details of the job description and see if a company provides any clue of what they are looking for in a candidate.
Once you figure it out, show that you have what your future employer wants using clear bullet points.
Here are some simple guidelines to keep in mind about good and bad resumes when you’re writing an accountant CV.
As well as other details, this information is vital to be included on your resume:
- Tangible numbers on budgets and investments you’ve managed, plus their profit margins.
- The overall value of the company your role was with and exactly what you were responsible for.
- How many contracts you were responsible for negotiatin.
- How you affected the bottom line in terms of earnings and savings through your knowledge and experience.
Let’s take a look at what that means in real terms for your resume:
- Led a team of three junior accountants with a focus on detail and compliance
- Developed business worth $1million over two years across four new contracts
- Managed a budget of $400,000 and implemented cost-saving software that reduced overheads by 7% annually
Accountant’s Resume Career Summary/Objective Tips
You want a strong opener that really tells the recruiter what you’re all about.
A resume objective is for those fresh in the industry. It’s there to show what you want to achieve, no matter your small levels of experience. Here’s an example of a resume objective for finance resumes:
When your experience can fill a spreadsheet, use a resume summary. This is where you bring everything great about you into a couple of sentences.
What’s inherently good about these examples?
Each of them notes the qualifications of the applicant, what experience they have in the field, the duties they have, and what they can offer to the company they’re applying to.
Work Experience Section for an Accountant’s Resume
Looking for inspiration for noting your work experience on your accountant resume?
We’ve got some examples of the good and the bad to help you on your way.
First, what NOT to write...
June 2016 to Present
Money Matters, San Francisco, CA
- Saw five three projects to completion
- Brought in new payments software
- Ensured accounts were reconciled for a month- and year-end
- Responsible for three team members
You can probably see why this isn’t so great, but let’s break it down.
This example doesn’t offer anything solid for the recruiter to note down. The facts are generic and don’t have anything that makes them remarkable.
You need to offer proof of everything you say with real examples.
This is what it SHOULD look like:
- Designed and led five projects to completion, with an average ROI of 9%
- Selected and rolled out new reconciliation systems that reduced costs through labor reductions by 7%
- Delivered accurate and timely monthly and yearly account reconciliation reports
- Responsible for the career development of three junior team members, supporting one to the completion of the MBA
Entry-level accounting resume example
Here are some of the resume tips for a fresher accountant.
- Noting down your voluntary roles and responsibilities.
- Offer up your transferable skills from non-accounting related jobs.
You don’t even have to have a year of work under your belt.
Even a few days volunteering to do the books for your local homeless shelter will show you can apply your academic qualifications.
We’ll start with what NOT to do...
No direct experience in an accountancy role
Helped at a local homeless shelter
Worked as a waitress
When you’re aiming for the top roles for your skill level, you need to give as much detail as you possibly can.
Here’s what you DO have to write:
Completed tax returned for 12 households
Supported local restaurant as a CPA consultant
Volunteer accounts assistant at a local homeless shelter
You want to show that you’ve already been smashing your skills to make some bank and do some good, even before you got your certificates.
How Accountants Can Showcase Their Skills in a Resume
Common skills required for accounting roles
When you’re writing your accounting manager resume remember that you will need to mention only relevant experience you have.
|Soft Skills||Hard Skills|
|Problem-solving and analysis||GAAP (Generally accepted accounting principles)|
|Working with common accounting programs||Audit|
|Commercial acumen||Microsoft Office Suite|
|Analytics of systems data||Business intelligence software (SAP, Oracle, etc.)|
|Critical thinking||SQL (structured query language)|
Examples of an accountant resume skills section
This is what your skills section should NOT look like...
Good PowerPoint skills
Can complete audits
Enjoy reading data to produce reports
After revision, you SHOULD get something like this:
Office skills: Detail oriented | Systems insight and analysis | Result oriented
The striking difference is in both the formatting and the words used.
Got the skills that are included in the job listing? Be sure that you list them clearly and succinctly and provide real examples of how you used them.
|Detail-oriented||Uncovered valuable insights within the company's finances that increased business efficiency by 20%|
|Systems insight and analysis||Analyzed costs and revenues to help increase the company's profits by 15%>|
|Result oriented||Provided 100% accuracy on end-of-year financial statements, income statements, and balance sheets|
Keep your hard, or technical, skills separate from your soft skills, and only write about ones that are directly related to the job you’re going for.
Best Certifications, Licences, and Free Courses for an Accountant
To become an accountant or auditor, you’ll generally need to have a bachelor’s degree in accountancy or a directly related field.
It’s a good idea to add value to your resume by completing certifications in the specific area of accounting you want to go into.
Lots of institutions offer specialized accounting certifications and qualifications that’ll boost your job prospects, help you climb the career ladder, and be a bargaining chip when negotiating a pay rise.
With so many to choose from, which ones should you be looking at?
We’ve gathered together a list of some of the most popular certificates and licenses you can earn as an accounts professional:
- Certified Public Accountant (CPA) - this is the top certificate you can get as an accounting or finance professional in the USA. You can get it at the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA).
- Chartered Global Management Accountant (CGMA) - an international version of the CPA for business and government employees, granted through the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA) and the Chartered Institute of Management Accountants (CIMA).
- Certified Management Accountant (CMA) - teaches practical uses for the theory studied at college and in the CPA, it’s sponsored by the IMA (Institute of Management Accountants).
- Certified Internal Auditor (CIA) - is internationally accepted and is designed for internal auditors. Earn this certificate through the Institute of Internal Auditors (IIA).
- Certified Information Systems Auditor (CISA) - granted by ISACA (previously known as the Information Systems Audit and Control Association).
Pro-TipTo keep your career path in a more general direction, get your CPA license. It’s the qualification that’s most widely known so is the most useful to anyone wanting to be an accountant.
For even more personal and career development, you can take free online courses with the likes of Harvard, Stanford, or the University of Pennsylvania.
Details of some of the best ones you should be checking out are here:
- Certified Public Accountant (CPA) - this is the top certificate you can get as an accounting or finance professional in the USA. You can get it at the Nonprofit Financial Stewardship Webinar: Introduction to Accounting and Financial Statements.
- University of Pennsylvania offers a free online course called More Introduction to Financial Accounting.
- Indiana University’s free online course called Managerial Accounting and Corporate Control.
- Stanford’s free online course: How to Start a Startup – Legal and Accounting Basics.
- The Massachusetts Institute of Technology offers a free online course called Management Accounting and Control.
The key to certifications and training courses is that they’re relevant to your career path and the jobs that you’re applying for.
How to Present Education and Qualifications for an Accountant
You have to provide a recruiter with structured and detailed information about the educational level that’s been attained.
Keep in mind clear formatting and include all relevant educational backgrounds you have in your resume education section.
Good example of education section for an accountant:
Bachelor of Business Administration in Accounting
University of Nevada, Las Vegas - Las Vegas, Nevada
Graduated May 2015, magna cum laude
- Certified Public Accountant (CPA), August 2015
- Managerial Accounting and Corporate Control - University of Indiana
- Ongoing coursework in Cost Accounting, University of Phoenix
Pro-TipFor a certification with a short exam and the lowest requirements, check out the CIA course. You should note that it’s the least well-known credential for an accountant.
Contact Information: The Essentials
When adding your contact information to your resume, you need to be sure to include your full name, the best number to call you on, and a professional email address.
If you’ve got a LinkedIn page, add the link to your resume, and if you’ve not got one you should really consider making one.
Writing Cover Letter for an Accountant’s Resume
Would you be shocked to know that most applicants write a cover letter that boils down to:
That’s not the cover letter you write if you want to get to the interview stage.
Your cover letter needs to be:
To give you a little extra help, we’ve put together a strong example for a resume cover letter for an accountant:
An outstanding cover letter will get your application to the top of the pile, be sure that it compliments your resume perfectly and is tailored to the company you’re applying to.
Accountant’s Job Outlook: Useful Statistics
There are plenty of accountants that work in their own, independent practices.
However, if you’re looking for employment in a company, here are the industries where most accountants find their jobs:
- Accounting, tax preparation, bookkeeping, and payroll services
- Company management
- Local and state government
- Management, scientific, and technical consulting services
Between 2019 and 2029, it’s projected that there will be an increase in jobs for accountants and auditors by 4 percent.
There are more details, too.
As of May 2019, the average annual salary, taken as the median, for auditor and accountants across the top industries were:
If you want to be making the big bucks, you want to be aiming for roles in finance and insurance.
The next image shows you which states in the US have the most people employed as accountants and auditors and the salaries they can expect, as of May 2019.
To have a good chance of landing a job, you should probably be looking at California and Texas, but the big money is in New York.
There are lots of roles available for candidates with accounting and finance experience or aspirations.
Looking in the finance and insurance sector should give you plenty of jobs to be applying for.
To be successful, your resume has to be:
- Structured and readable
- Completely clear of any mistakes
- Packed with information that’s relevant to the job listing
- Optimized to get through an applicant tracking system (ATS)
- Full of examples of your real-world experience and backed up with numbers
Every claim that you make should be complemented by facts and figures.
Don’t go overboard and throw every single thing you’ve ever done on your resume - keep your content relevant to the job you want.
Just starting out on the accounting career ladder?
Be sure you add your voluntary experience and list the transferable skills you picked up from non-accounting jobs.
Go through the list of requirements like skills and certifications carefully.
Go and earn the certificates you need, if necessary; there are lots of available online courses, and some are free to access.
Last of all, you need to make sure to include a well-written cover letter that includes how to easily get hold of you.
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