Well the good news is there are accounting jobs in abundance.

In fact, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, accounting and auditor jobs are projected to grow faster than the average of all other occupations.

So what does this mean for you?

It means that the opportunities will be numerous, but so will the competition.

Many, many people are after a good career with lots of projected growth. So it will be even more important to make yourself stand out.

It won’t be enough just to be qualified. Nearly every other applicant will have the appropriate degrees and hard skills.

You need to prove that you are a good accountant.

With everything that entails.

You are ethical. You are organized. You are reliable.

And we’re going to help you make sure they know how perfect you are for the job.

This article will give you everything you need to know to demonstrate your value in the marketplace and land more interviews.

Summary

  1. Resume Template
  2. Formatting
  3. Writing Your Resume Summary
  4. Areas of Expertise
  5. Writing Your Work Experience
  6. Writing Your Education Section
  7. Additional Sections
  8. Resume Points to Remember
  9. Resume “Don’ts” to Remember
  10. Some Helpful Tools

Let’s begin with a sample accountant resume to demonstrate how all the resume pieces fit together. Then we will break each section down to really drill into how to write the best accountant resume you possibly can.

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Accountant (CPA) Resume (Text Version)

Contact Info:

Molly Carpenter
mollycarpenter@email.com
1 (503) 555-0055
123 Dreary Ln. Portland, OR 97035
linkedin.com/mollycarpenter

Summary Statement:

Certified Public Accountant: An ethical and experienced licensed CPA specializing in preparing tax returns for small businesses and individuals. Proactively engages in thorough, organized, and timely maintenance of financial statements, balance sheets, cash flow projections, and tax preparation Skilled in problem solving and taking initiative to streamline work processes to maximize workflow.

Key Accomplishments/Areas of Expertise

  • Quickbooks
  • US GAAP Standards
  • Advanced Excel Skills
  • Highly Organized
  • NetSuite Financials
  • Ethical Practices
  • Financial Edge
  • Digital Communications

Professional Experience:

H&R Block | Accountant
Portland, OR | May 2014-Present

  • Conducted tax interviews and researched tax questions to provide accurate and complete tax returns
  • Resolved client concerns in accordance with the District General Manager’s instructions
  • Prepared complex tax returns for individuals and businesses

Blackwood Books | Bookkeeper
Portland, OR | May 2010-May 2014

  • Processed payroll bi-weekly
  • Executed invoices and accounts payable
  • Organized financial information for quarterly tax payments
  • Filed and tallied daily revenue totals

Student Council | Accountant
Portland State University | Aug 2008-Aug 2009

  • Maintained budget for Student Council
  • Tracked cash flow
  • Managed balance sheets
  • Participated in monthly strategy meetings

Education

Bachelor of Science in Accounting
Portland State University, Portland, OR
Class of 2010

Formatting

As an accountant, you understand the incredible importance of organizing information clearly.

You want your accountant resume to be easy to read and scannable by hiring managers and bots alike.

To this end, it’s a good idea to go with the standard reverse chronological order format for your accounting resume.

This will put your most impressive points first, utilizing the 6 seconds most hiring managers take to scan each new resume.

Use large, clear headings and a sensible font, such as Arial or Times New Roman.

Avoid using anything odd, outlandish, or difficult to read. You don’t want to make it harder for them to see why you are the best person for the job.

Remember, time is of the essence, and if your accountant resume is not legible to them immediately, you’re likely to end up on the discard pile before you’ve had a chance to “wow” them.

Since you are used to dealing with columns and organization, you’ll kill it when it comes to presenting your information neatly, being sure your bullet points are aligned, and that you’ve used your white space wisely.

Creating Your Accountant Resume Summary

Your resume summary is quite possibly the most important part of the whole document.

Why?

Because it’s placed at the very top of the page and is the first thing the hiring manager will see.

In the past it was common to put a resume objective at the top of the page. This practice has fallen by the wayside however, since the objective is always to get the job in one way or another.

Stating such an obvious objective doesn’t actually tell the hiring manager anything, so it’s a much better idea to write a well-crafted and specific resume summary.

The top of your accountant resume is your prime real estate, your elevator pitch, the 2 or 3 sentences that sum up why YOU are the best possible person for this job.

Because you only have a couple of sentences to convey this, your summary should be a succinct collection of your top selling points.

Avoid general language that doesn’t actually tell the hiring managers anything about your skill set.

Be as specific as possible about how you’ve demonstrated your skills and competencies, while also avoiding repeating yourself.

Trust us, an excellent summary will instantly give the hiring manager hope that they are one step closer to finding the accountant of their dreams.

Remember, they want you to be the perfect fit as much as you want to be. Once they’ve found the perfect hire, their job is finished and everyone is happy.

Now we know the importance of a good resume statement, how do we go about writing a good one?

Let’s look at some good and not so good examples of summary statements for accountants:

Yes!

An ethical and experienced licensed CPA specializing in preparing tax returns for small businesses and individuals. Proactively engages in thorough, organized, and timely maintenance of financial statements, balance sheets, cash flow projections, and tax preparation. Skilled in problem solving and taking initiative to streamline work processes to maximize workflow.

No!

Accountant seeking a position as a staff member on a financial team. Experience with tax preparation and bookkeeping. Proficient in time management and accounting software.

The first example is specific, outlining exactly the skills and experience that make you an impressive candidate.

The second example uses weak language, is overly general, is not well-written, and doesn’t list any specific skills or qualifications that can be considered impressive or desirable.

Of course you are seeking a job as an accountant and of course you are experienced at bookkeeping or you wouldn’t be in your profession.

So even though the second example is truthful, it’s not specific and therefore not terribly meaningful.

Areas of Expertise/Key Accomplishments

BAM, resume summary is in the bag.

Your resume is now off to a fantastic start.

But what if the hiring manager is extremely busy and they don’t give your summary its due?

Wouldn’t it be great if you had an easily scannable list of your greatest attributes?

Ladies and gentlemen, allow us to introduce to you the Key Accomplishments/Areas of Expertise section.

This section is a list of bullet points directly under your summary that outline your key skills and competencies.

If you’ve worked in a certain accounting software the company uses for instance, you will be at an advantage over candidates who don’t have that same knowledge.

So be sure to point those things out!

Use this list to showcase yourself and your abilities.

Example:

  • Quickbooks
  • US GAAP Standards
  • Ethical Practices
  • Financial Edge
  • Organization
  • Advanced Excel Skills
  • NetSuite Financials
  • Digital Communications

Typically, when we talk about “skills” in regards to resume writing we are talking about two categories: Hard Skills and Soft Skills.

Hard skills (sometimes called Technical Skills) are teachable and easy to quantify.

For instance, knowing how to use an accounting software or building queries in a database.

Hard skills are usually things you’ve learned in a classroom throughout your education, or experiences you’ve gained on the job. They are skills that you were taught and got better at the more you practiced.

Soft skills however, are harder to quantify.

Soft skills are sometimes referred to as “people skills” or “interpersonal skills,” and are more a matter of personality and natural traits.

These competencies are more subjective and include things like problem solving, communication skills, and leadership.

Take a bit of time to evaluate what your strengths are. Make a list, including both hard and soft skills.

Next, match the skills you have with those that most often appear in job descriptions as desirable traits in accountants..

PRO TIP: Most job posts tell you exactly what the employer is looking for, making your job of choosing which of your skills to include on your accountant resume and cover letter much easier.

(See below for a helpful table of some suggested hard and soft skills to include in your resume.)

Writing Your Work Experience

Once you’re past the bots (more about bots below) and have grabbed the attention of a human hiring manager with your stellar resume summary, you need to prove your qualifications with your work history.

This is the true heart of the resume and will usually take the most space.

There are exceptions, such as if you are just beginning your career and don’t have much work experience, or if you’ve been in roles that are more project-focused such as being a freelancer or consultant.

However, if you have a few jobs under your belt, your work history will be the “meatiest” part of the document.

So, what do you include?

How do you make it all fit on one page?

First, let’s begin with layout.

As we mentioned above in the section on formatting, reverse chronological order is the most common resume format and it is usually a good choice.

With the standard reverse chronological format, your work experience should begin with your most recent position first.

After that, you’ll work your way backwards through your career.

You don’t need to include everything you’ve ever done in your career–unless you are a new grad, have been out of the workforce for a while, or need to fill up the space for a similar reason.

You do, however, want to include your most relevant and impressive roles.

More About Bots

For many roles, your first obstacle is going to be getting around what is called an Applicant Tracking System (ATS).

This is an algorithm designed to look for certain keywords on resumes.

Even if you’re 100% qualified for the job, if your accountant resume doesn’t contain the right keywords, the ATS will not recognize you as being a good candidate and will place you on the discard pile.

To get around this, some applicants write their work history out as paragraphs instead of a bullet point list in an attempt to fit more keywords in to each job description.

You may be able to fit more keywords in this way but you’re taking a major risk–the risk that the hiring manager will actually read your expertly crafted paragraphs.

Because time is of the essence, we recommend going the traditional route for work history layout, but the choice, of course, is up to you.

Let’s look at an example of both approaches:

Traditional:

H&R Block | Portland, OR | Accountant | May 2014-Present

  • Conducted tax interviews and researched tax questions to provide accurate and complete tax returns
  • Resolved client concerns in accordance with the District General Manager’s instructions
  • Prepared complex tax returns for individuals and businesses

Paragraph:

Conducted tax interviews and researched tax questions to provide accurate and complex tax returns while also resolving client concerns in accordance with District General Manager’s instructions.

Whichever layout you choose, be sure to include:

  • The name of the company you worked for
  • The city where the company is located
  • What role you performed there

It is also common to include what dates you worked at each job.

However, it’s also acceptable to leave dates off if you don’t want to draw attention to a gap in your employment or a short tenure with a company.

(You will want to be prepared to answer questions about length of employment however, so be sure you have practiced answering these questions before your interview.)

Next, outline the tasks and responsibilities you performed while in each role.

Be sure to use power words that convey action and demonstrate your abilities.

You should have 3-5 bullet points for every position, being mindful of space and careful not to repeat yourself.

Let’s take a look at some example bullet points for reference:

Yes!

Blackwood Books | Portland, OR | Bookkeeper

  • Processed payroll bi-weekly
  • Executed invoices and accounts payable
  • Organized financial information for quarterly tax payments
  • Filed and tallied daily revenue totals

No!

Bookkeeper | Portland, OR

  • Responsible for payroll
  • Handled invoices
  • Counted daily totals

The first example starts each bullet point off with a different action word that conveys strength and competence, while also being specific and informative.

The second example doesn’t actually say anything about why the candidate is a good choice. It merely outlines some of the basic duties of an accountant without any specification, flair or description.

PRO TIP: When it comes to choosing power words, the job description can really help you. The keywords used to describe the position will be the most important to include on your accountant resume because these are the key skills the hiring manager is looking for. Additionally, these keywords will help you get past the bots who are designed to look for certain keywords to flag your resume for further review.

Writing Your Education Section

As you’ve probably guessed, your education section lists your educational background and other relevant certifications or training you might have.

The section typically begins with your level of degree (Bachelor’s, Master’s, etc.), with your highest degree listed first.

Next include what field of study your degree is in, and the institution you earned your degree from.

You can also include your minors and concentrations and your graduation date.

If you have recently graduated, you can also opt to add your GPA, though it isn’t necessary for you to do so if you feel it doesn’t accurately reflect your capabilities.

Your GPA will become less important in light of your other, more relevant professional accomplishments as you gain more experience, but it can be a good selling point at the beginning of your career.

Example:

Bachelor of Science in Accounting
Portland State University, Portland, OR
GPA: 3.8
Class of 2010

You should also make mention of any certifications, classes, workshops, or conferences you have gained knowledge and skills from.

For instance, if you completed a certification program, took online classes, or attended a weekend seminar in your industry.

Example:

  • “Advanced Excel Techniques,” Weekend Course, Eugene, OR
  • QuickBooks Certification, Online Training, Udemy

Possible Sections to Include

If you have space left on your accountant resume after covering all of the most important information, you can consider adding more sections.

Additional sections can cover things you feel help you stand out and strengthen your stance as a good candidate, but don’t necessarily fall in to one of the more standard categories.

Some of the sections you could include are:

  • Awards and honors
  • Publications
  • Noteworthy Projects
  • Social Media Influence
  • Speaking Engagements
  • Hobbies/Interests
  • Volunteer Work

What if You Have no Experience?

If you are making a career change or are a new graduate, your relevant work experience won’t be as robust as someone already working in the field.

You’ll still want to begin your accountant resume with a strong statement in this case, but move your education section under your summary as opposed to placing it after your work history.

At this stage in your accounting career, your education is going to be one of your strongest assets. Therefore, it’s information you’re going to want the hiring manager to see first.

Next, when writing your work history, craft your bullet points to be as closely related to the accounting job you’re applying for as possible.

For instance, if you worked at a front desk in college you likely have organization, data entry, and communication skills, all of which are relevant to a career as an accountant.

You likely have more relevant work history than you realize, so don’t sell yourself short by thinking too small.

Were you part of any relevant clubs while in school?

Did you routinely help friends and neighbors with their bookkeeping or taxes?

Did you have a summer job at an accounting firm?

All of these things count as valuable experience.

Spend some time thinking through your selling points and utilize them.

Resume Points to Remember

It sounds very basic and obvious, but always include a way to be contacted.
This includes your LinkedIn profile and email address.

Because contact info is such a no-brainer, it’s easy to accidentally overlook when you’re worried about getting everything else right.

Use space wisely

Ideally your resume should only be one page long, so using your space wisely is incredibly important. Put your most impressive points in your resume summary at the top of the page followed by your work history or education section, depending on your current situation.

Start each bullet point with a different power word

Strong language implies a strong skill set. Convey action and ability by using different power words to start each bullet point.

Have someone you trust proofread

Typos happen to the best of us, especially after working on the same document for a long period of time. Get someone you trust to read over your resume for any grammar, spelling, or formatting issues.

Resume “Don’ts” to Remember

Don’t use first person language

Unlike most writing where you are the subject, it is incorrect to use “I” or “me” in your resume content. This is not how you’re used to writing, so it’s easy to forget. Be especially mindful of this when writing your summary and bullet points.

Don’t exceed one page

Unless you are an executive or very accomplished, one page should be plenty. Only include your most relevant work history and accomplishments, and leave out the rest.
You still have a cover letter and (hopefully!) an interview to talk about all the other ways in which you are awesome.

Don’t repeat power words

There are so many incredible power words you can use to convey competence and action. Don’t re-use the same ones over and over.

(We’ve put together a handy table of power words for accountants below to use for inspiration.)

Don’t use outlandish fonts or formatting

Sometimes the job description will ask you to add a little spice to your materials, but unless that is the case, avoid making wild and outlandish formatting decisions. Clear and simple is best. Stick with the tried and true.

Helpful Tools:

Accountant Resume Power Words

  • Accelerated
  • Collected
  • Accumulated
  • Decreased
  • Adjusted
  • Delegated
  • Budgeted
  • Demonstrated
  • Balanced
  • Economized
  • Billed
  • Enabled
  • Calculated
  • Focused
  • Checked
  • Formulated

Accountant Resume Skills List

Hard Skills Soft Skills
QuickBooks Organized
GAAP (Generally Accepted Accounting Principles) Ethical
Microsoft Excel Reliable
IBM Cognos Analytics Punctual
ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning) Efficient

Further Resources

We have many great resources available to you 100% free on the Big Interview blog. Read the articles below for more information on resumes and cover letters.

The Art of Writing a Great Resume Summary Statement

How Long Should a Resume Be?

Creating Really Good Resumes

How to Get the Applicant Tracking System to Pick Your Resume

8 Design Ideas to Make Your Resume Pop

6 Tricks to Makeover Your Resume…Fast

How to Write a Cover Letter