For job seekers in the accounting field, your resume should showcase your most recent accounting experience, your skills, and your qualifications. That's about it! What your resume should not be is a cluttered document where the most important elements are difficult to discern.
In this guide, we'll show you the best template to use, how to structure your resume, and what content to include. We also include examples of resumes at the entry-level, mid-level, or senior accountant level and explain why each resume example works for each case.
For the accounting industry, a strictly chronological accountant resume is not necessarily the best structure. A more structured hybrid resume format, like the "clean" resume shown in this article, highlights qualifications and skills in a separate column on the right. This type of resume is more structured. It is easier on the eye and delivers the key points succinctly.
The exception to this rule is if you are a recent graduate and you don't have too much full-time, accounting-specific work experience to showcase. Here, the minimalist template would work just fine.
The main thing to bear in mind is that an accounting resume or cover letter should not be flashy, colorful, or complex. Nor should it include images or photos. After all, your forte as an accountant is not creativity. It's simplicity, clarity, and accuracy.
An accounting resume should include some critical elements. We'll walk you through each one and give you some examples.
This section is straightforward. It should include your name, your telephone number, your email, and your LinkedIn URL. For mid-level and senior accountants, it’s important to place your certifications front and center. So, place your CPA, CFA®, or CMA, after your name and under the education sector.
The resume objective, or summary statement, is an introductory statement that appears at the top of the resume. The summary introduces the accountant and gives the recruiter an idea of who the candidate is and where they want to go in the next phase of their career. The best statements include the following elements:
an adjective (seasoned, aspiring, exacting)
the person's certifications (CPA, CFA®, or CMA)
years of experience (2+, 6+)
what the candidate will contribute to the employer
the candidate's most notable achievement in quantifiable terms (instituted new accounting solution with 50% time savings)
A good example of a resume objective statement for a senior level accountant is the following:
A diligent client-facing senior CPA with 6+ years of experience at Fortune 500 companies. Seeking an opportunity to use proven auditing skills to minimize client risk. Recouped $1 million in expenses for one client by integrating legacy systems with cutting-edge accounting solutions. Seeking a position with a dynamic firm. Highly skilled in financial statements, regulatory filings, asset management, and IT skills.
If you are struggling to find impressive metrics to add to your statement, other accomplishments will do the trick. Here is an example of an objective statement for a mid-level accountant:
A diligent client-facing CPA with 2+ years of experience in public accounting. Seeking an opportunity to use proven auditing skills to minimize client risk. Passed all sections of the CPA exam in the first round. Completed 12 client tax returns against tight deadlines.
Bear in mind that a career objective statement at the entry-level is not necessary. Your goals at this stage should be broad, and an objective statement could narrow your options. One possibility is to add a summary of your accounting skills and accomplishments instead.
Next, here's how to craft the body of your resume. The content that you should include here will depend on what you have been doing in your previous jobs and where you are in your professional accounting career.
The meat of your resume is your work history. This will make up the body of your one-page resume and should be structured as bullet points. Here, you should list the employer, your job title, and your achievements for each position that you include.
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, showing how your actions influenced a quantifiable result.
Another important factor here is to use strong action verbs to describe your accomplishments. For example, say “Executed” instead of “Coordinated” and “Orchestrated” instead of “Contributed to."
Keywords are another important element. Read the accounting job description you are applying to and identify keywords to add to your resume so that it is not screened out by applicant tracking systems.
Let's look at examples of content for entry-level, mid-level, and senior accountants separately.
At the entry-level or staff accountant level, you might lack full-time work experience and find it difficult to develop quantifiable accounting-specific achievements. In that case, when writing your bullet points, think about what responsibilities you had during internships, part-time or contract work, or any volunteer work, and include those if they are relevant to accounting.
Here are some examples:
Provided assistance with bank account and month-end credit card reconciliation for over 15 clients
Assisted with tax engagements for five Fortune 500 companies
Evaluated governance, operations, and IT risk exposures for clients
Charged expenses to accounts and cost centers
Maintained accounting ledgers by verifying and posting transactions
Completed 25 hours per week as a bank teller at a busy Sovereign bank branch
Navigated client-facing role processing bank deposits and withdrawals on checking, savings, and commercial accounts
At this stage in your career, you will have some accomplishments to brag about. And brag, you should. By using metrics or financial data to quantify your accomplishments, you are giving proof of your value to the employer.
For example, "conducted a client-focused initiative to improve the client experience" is pretty vanilla and uninspiring, whereas "spearheaded an efficiency initiative that improved client satisfaction by 60%" could blow the socks off the reader.
In addition to hard skills — accounts payable, accounts receivable, auditing, account reconciliation, bookkeeping, general ledger, computer skills— you will also be honing your soft skills. For example, critical thinking, collaborating with other teams, communication skills, and leadership.
Perhaps you were charged with giving presentations to management, leading initiatives, or mentoring in your last position. Include accomplishments that emphasize both your hard and soft skills on your resume, particularly if you seek a management role.
Here are some examples of bullet points for mid-level accountants:
Analyzed budgets, financial reports, and projections for over 20 clients
Reviewed accounting structures and implemented solutions that improved accounting operations by 60%
Executed assessment initiative that reduced risk exposure by 25%
Managed a portfolio of private grants 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%
For a senior accountant professional resume, it’s not necessary to go back more than ten years with respect to work experience on your resume. In fact, don’t, because ageism is common in the recruiting world.
Instead, only go as far back with years of professional experience as necessary to show progression in your career, increasing responsibility in your financial reporting and auditing, and some longevity with your past employers. As with the mid-level accounting resume, use metrics to quantify your accomplishments.
Here are some examples of bullet points for senior accountants.
Instituted accounting systems to improve reporting and reduced expenses by 25%
Recouped $1 million in expenses by integrating cutting-edge accounting solutions
Directed audit services for over 50 clients
Oversaw general ledger and maintained accurate cash, prepaid, fixed assets, accounts payable, accrued accounts for over 50 Fortune 500 companies
Consistently managed tax accounting for clients with a 95% satisfaction rate
Negotiated audit fees and ensures that audits were completed timely and without significant deficiencies or material weaknesses
Ensured 100% accuracy and compliance with accounting and financial reporting trends, new GAAP and IASB accounting pronouncements impacting the company, SEC guidance, and disclosure trends impacting the company
Initiated program with parent company controllers group to develop global accounting practices that conform to any new international accounting standards
Facilitated 100% achievement in special project goals through collaboration with CFO and by providing tactical and strategic advice
Reduced SAP module implementation time by 30% by pinpointing integration bottlenecks in accounting protocols
This is one area where you can differentiate yourself from the competition with your unique skillset. List out relevant skills only, include both hard and soft skills, and keep it brief to pack a punch.
Highlight your technical skills, which might include cutting-edge accounting technology if you are a recent graduate. Also include skills you gained through extracurricular activities that involve finance or accounting skills, such as fundraising, budget-keeping, and event planning.
List out all the software and technology you have used, such as QuickBooks, Excel, Microsoft, and Statistical packages. Check the job description to match your skills with those the employee specifically asks for. Include any mentoring, consulting, or leadership skills that you have attained.
At this stage in your career, your accounting acumen is already off the charts. However, you should accentuate your leadership and management skills. Also, if you have presented at industry events or published articles in business media, place these in a separate section of your resume under a separate heading so that they get the special attention they deserve.
Naturally, you’ll want to include your education on your resume. This should be brief and list your degrees and certifications.
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. You could also include any leadership positions you held at college, particularly if you were involved in budgeting; for example, President of Student Government. Exclude high school information.
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.
It is a good idea to put the year of graduation. Some experts say that applicant tracking systems may screen out resumes that don't show the year of graduation.
That’s it! Use the suggested templates here. Here's a final checklist.
Keep the design simple, uncluttered, and structured.
Craft a bold summary objective.
Use bullet points to describe your experience that includes 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.
Lastly, remember that the fundamentals are the most important thing when it comes to accounting. Don't overcomplicate things!