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Accountant Resume Example & Writing Guide

Accountants are essential in any company, as they analyze budgets, taxes, file financial reports and assess accounting records. However, with digital tools becoming more commonplace, a great resume is vital for landing a job. This Accountant resume example & guide are here to boost your chances!
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Accountant Resume Example & Writing Guide
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Every business needs an accountant, and every accountant resume that’s worthy of a prospective employer’s attention needs to measure up on multiple counts.

The competition in nearly every professional field is growing, including for accountants. Resume.io is here to help. Our recruitment expertise, field-tested accountant resume templates and builder tool can give you advantages to stay ahead in your pursuit of a dream accountant job. 

This accountant resume example and writing guide will cover the following topics:

  1. The job outlook for accountants and what today’s recruiting technology looks like, including automated resume screening software.
  2. How to create an accountant resume that stands out.
  3. The best format for structuring your accountant resume.
  4. The importance of keywords to ensure your resume passes through the Applicant Tracking Systems filter.
  5. Advice for each section of your resume: summary, work history, education and skills.
  6. Visual elements for a resume that presents your best professional image to recruiters.
Accountant - The following topics
Accountant - The following topics

Accountant job role and outlook

Accounting is a vitally important function that impacts businesses daily. Accountants have traditionally been viewed as keepers of financial records, caretakers of tax-related documents and — essentially — "the numbers people."

But the core of most accounting roles is so much deeper and wider in today’s increasingly dynamic and complex economy. Ask anyone running a business, working in a large corporation or navigating government interactions how well they could manage without great accounting support. 

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), a leading source of occupation-specific market data, combines accountants and auditors in the same information category. This work is carried out in the following forms of employment: accounting, tax preparation, bookkeeping, and payroll services  — 24%; finance and insurance — 9%; government — 8%; management of companies and enterprises — 7%; and self-employed — 6%.

Accounting job market

The accounting job outlook, which is generally tied closely to the health of the overall economy, is on a stable growth path. The BLS projects 4% increase in jobs for accountants and auditors from 2019 to 2029, about as fast as the average for all occupations. Globalization, a growing economy, and a complex tax and regulatory environment are expected to continue to lead to strong demand for accountants and auditors. 

Higher-than-average income for financial professionals like accountants is another job competition factor. According to the BLS, the average annual salary for accountants and auditors in May 2020 was $81,660. The median was $73,560, with those in the top 10% earning $128,680. Accounting professionals in the highest-paying positions can earn more than $160,000, depending on industry and employer.

How to write an accountant resume

Before you get started, you need to know what your accountant resume should include. Here are the sections your CV should contain:

  • The resume header
  • The resume summary (aka profile or personal statement)
  • The employment history section
  • The resume skills section
  • The education section

This guide will offer details on how to compile each of these elements. 

Accountant - Best format cover letter
Accountant - Best format cover letter

The next fact you need to understand is how technology controls the recruitment and hiring entry point. The unfortunate reality is that an Applicant Tracking System (ATS) "bot" could disqualify even a seasoned accountant candidate whose resume text fails to score highly enough against screening criteria.

Never fear, however. Resume.io is here to sidestep that obstacle and make sure your resume avoids that fate.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the top-paying employment sectors for accountants and auditors are listed below. 

Statistical insight

Job applicants could expect ATS to be widely used by such major employers.
 

Computer and Peripheral Equipment Manufacturing $112,680
Federal Executive Branch  $105,980
School and Employee Bus Transportation $105,060
Securities, Commodity Contracts, and Other Financial Investments and Related Activities $102,020
Other Information Services $ 99,810
Account - Top-paying sectors
Account - Top-paying sectors

Acing the ATS challenge

ATS software algorithms scan and analyze the text of every resume for certain keywords, rating and ranking them on that basis. Only the highest-scoring resumes make it through this electronic filter and are passed on for review by hiring managers.

Keywords are terms that are relevant to the employer, hiring manager and listed job description. The trick to a great resume is to insert the necessary keywords in a way that flows naturally without making it all seem artificial. 

Statistical insight

U.S. survey data shows that 75% of resumes submitted online are never seen by human eyes. Automated screening can become a resume black hole, so optimizing your resume for the ATS is very important.

Choosing the best resume format for accounting

An overview of resume formats will help you decide how to structure your accounting resume, depending on several factors. The most commonly used reverse chronological format is likely suitable if your work history has followed a linear path in a series of employee positions. In that resume section, progressive job experience and accomplishments are organized by employer / workplace in reverse order from most recent to earliest dates. 

Alternatively, the more specific functional format focuses on skills, talents and career goals or special interests, rather than employers. It may be appropriate for self-employed professionals with an assignment or contract-based background. It’s sometimes a good choice for job candidates who are new to the workforce or changing careers. In other instances, a hybrid (combination) resume format makes sense in adapting chronological and functional elements.

Accountant CV summary example: professional perfection

Accounting is typically characterized as a technical profession, but that should not stop you from infusing some personality in your accountant resume.  In particular, the summary (sometimes called profile) of your accountant resume is the place for adding human dimension. It's also where certain stereotypes about financial professionals being dry or uncooperative by nature can be challenged. 

Think of your accountant resume summary as a story of expertise and character. In fact, this is really the only resume section where you can employ a bit of creativity because it is relatively freeform. While most other resume sections have standard formatting in bullet point lists and so on, the summary gives you some open space to work with. 

Make sure to use energetic language, action verbs and positive statements. and you want some character to shine through here. Even if not directly relevant to your accounting skills, some hints about what a great person you are to work with can go a long way. 

Here is an accountant resume summary example you can adapt.

Certified Public Accountant with five years of experience in account reconciliations, streamlining accounts, and financial planning. Highly motivated professional with a proven track record of delivering accurate reports and high-quality service. Possess a comprehensive understanding of all aspects of accounting and financial planning. A dedicated leader with the ability to lead effective teams in attaining profit improvement. 

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Certifications for a strong accountant CV

Accounting, like other professions such as law and medicine, is a field in which formal certifications can be a requirement, or at the very least, a huge advantage.

In many instances, we would suggest listing certifications in the education section of your resume, or at the end, space permitting. However, unless you're just starting out as an accountant, you likely already have an important certification or are aiming to achieve one. This can be the key to many professional doors, so we actually recommend placing your certification in the summary section, so it's prominently featured at the top of the page. Moreover, for some higher paying accounting positions, the job listing may require specific certifications. That means the ATS will be checking for those keywords as well. 

If you have more than one certification, consider creating a custom section for them using our resume builder tool. Our web-based interface with pre-filled sample sentences makes this incredibly easy to do.

The most valuable certifications and how to present them

Accounting certifications often correlate directly with your salary, bonuses and options when choosing employers. Some are clearly more important on your accounting resume than others. Here's a sample selection of the most valued ones:

Certified Public Accountant (CPA): this is probably the most well-known of all accounting certifications, at least in the U.S. CPAs can specialize in different fields. Different countries, states and regions have different examination procedures as well. The fields of expertise range from tax management, forensic accounting and risk management to compliance and many others. 

Certified Management Accountant (CMA) is considered by many to be the second most prestigious professional certification. It leans towards financial management more than the CPA, focusing on compliance, taxes and controls. Employers value the CMA highly, and may stipulate this as a requirement for appropriate positions in the accounting job listing. 

Other universally valuable certifications include: Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA) and Chartered Institute Management Accountant (CIMA). There are also industry-specific certifications such as Certified Bank Auditor (CBA), Certified Fraud Examiner (CFE), Certified Information Systems Auditor (CISA), Certified Internal Auditor (CIA) and Enrolled Agent (EA). 

All of these are important to highlight in your resume summary, or if you have numerous ones, create a dedicated section for certifications in the upper half of your resume. 

Expert tip

Accountants are among the professions prominent in companies like the Big Four. This means high salaries and high competition. To reach a good position and have a great career in such environments, certifications are important. Most top-level professionals in these corporations have CPAs. And if you do as well, make sure to highlight that in your application.

Employment history sample: format to impress

Accountants help companies and professionals in the most fundamental aspect of staying in businesses: financials. This means that your work experience is an important part of your professional image. 

Statistical insight

Eye-tracking tests have shown that recruiters take around six to seven seconds to decide if they should move on to the next resume. Conclusion: presenting your best achievements first is vital. Provide special attention and care when describing your duties and achievements on important positions. 

In the eyes of a hiring manager, accountants should be perceived as supporting a business so it's functional and stable. The employment history section of your resume should reflect that. Below each job listed, outline ways that you supported or contributed to high-quality financial management, growth and guidance. These descriptions should be accomplishment-focused and the wording should be positive and energetic. Illustrating quantifiable results with numbers and percentages can give you a serious advantage. 

Expert tip

The STAR method is effective for summarizing work experience highlights on your accounting resume. Simply describe: S — the situation; T — task(s); A — actions/strategy; and R — result achieved. Again, numbers and other outcome measurements are ideal. 

This resume writing method is also useful to prepare for a job interview, as it helps keep your explanations logical and straightforward.

Here’s an employment history section from an accountant resume example.

Accountant at Huntington Associates, Philadelphia
July 2019 - September 2021

  • Oversaw the management of all company accounts.
  • Processed staff payroll and other main aspects of financial transactions.
  • Managed accounting teams and ensured that all accounting records were complete and accurate.
  • Explained financial matters to people outside of the finance department in a comprehensive way.
  • Remained professional and discreet when handling sensitive or private financial matters.
  • Working closely with junior staff members while aiding them in the progression of their careers.
     

Staff Accountant at Dubone Partnership, New York 
November 2014 - September 2018

  • Managed accounts by analyzing costs and revenues.
  • Projected future trends based on analysis work.
  • Managed complex expense reporting.
  • Develop strategies for minimizing tax liability.
  • Work closely with auditors during all audit processes.
  • Performed financial risk assessments for all future business projects.
  • Organized sales and profit reports.
  • Prepare, review, and submit crucial budget plans for company goals.
     

Accounting Records Manager at Pepsico, New York
October 2013 - October 2014

  • Worked as a supervisor to staff of twelve finance department members.
  • Prepared budget and analyzed inventories, cost of goods, and general accounts.
  • Served as a liaison between the accounting staff and the external audit staff.
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Accountant resume education example

Formal education deserves adequate attention on an accountant resume, as this is not a profession that's predominantly self-taught. College degrees are a key consideration when employers are considering professional qualifications for financial positions.  Business degrees are the most common among accountants, followed to a much lesser extent by social science degrees and education majors. 

If you're in an earlier accounting career stage, you can expand the education section with details of academic milestones, additional financial or accounting courses (online or otherwise), scholarships or awards. But only do this if space allows, as your entire resume should fit on a single page. 

Are you using the resume.io builder to create your accountant resume? It's easy to list any kind of academic accomplishments or credentials — not just degrees —  in the "school" field of the education section. Just as you would normally identify the college or other learning institutions, indicate the relevant jurisdiction/organization that issued your credentials. 

Here’s an education section from an accountant resume example.
  • St. Joseph College, Master of Business Administration and Accounting, New York
    Jul 2018 - Jul 2020
    - Graduated with high honors
     
  • University of Pennsylvania, Bachelor of Finance, Philadelphia
    Sep 2008 - May 2012
    - Graduated summa cum laude
    - President of Student Counsel
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Skills example section: show off your strengths

Accounting focuses on hard skills, and an accounting resume typically reflects that in about 90% of the content. Keep in mind that your accounting resume should be concise and it should be tailored to the specific accounting position you are seeking. One of the best tools for being selective about each specific resume skills section is your own master list. Create a separate document with just a bullet point list of your competencies that come to mind. Keep it handy for updating constantly. Then, for each new version of your accountant resume, analyze the job requirements and choose the most appropriate skills for your resume.

It's vitally important to analyze each listed job description for keywords that will likely achieve a satisfactory ATS score, and to match the accounting terminology on your resume skills list. Use the exact wording provided by the employer or hiring manager.

Statistical insight

According to leading occupational data sources, "financial resource management" and "financial document analysis (based on visual comprehension)" are among the most important technical skills for accountants in revealed comparative advantage (RCA) ratings.

Many people will ignore soft skills completely in an accounting resume but we believe they are worth including. If you don’t have room to list directly in the skills section, try integrating into the more free-form summary text, as suggested earlier. 

Dependability, discipline, friendly co-worker interactions and complex problem solving are good soft skills to mention.

Here is an accounting resume skills section sample.
  • Interpersonal Skills
  • Management
  • Recruiting
  • Leadership
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Resume layout and formatting

Appropriate layout, design and formatting are the foundation for attracting and focusing the recruiter’s attention on your accountant resume. Together they create the first impression hiring managers will have. Appearance is important as your foremost ambassador here, since your personality can’t shine through to the same extent as in an interview.unlike those of the competing accounting applicants. 

Best visual templates for an accountant resume, with examples

To convey character and a professional image on your accounting resume, a clean and classical look is your best choice. We already noted that discussed before that discipline, support, dependability and expertise are the key associations with the accountant role. Let's visualize that in your resume template

Before choosing a CV template, it's a good idea to reflect on what that resume format says about you as a candidate. For most formal accounting positions, you'll want to keep your template fairly simple . However for certain employers, a more creative or modern touch might be effective.

Luckily, Resume.io's template collection has dozens of resume formats suitable for virtually any employer.  Check out the Professional category to find some great options for an impressive senior accountant or view more similar resume examples by clicking on the accounting & finance field.

Expert tip

Use field-tested templates backed by metrics. They are beautifully designed and attention-grabbing. 

Key takeaways

  1. Steady growth in the accountant job market means competition for the best jobs is likely to increase. You need all the best tools to create an outstanding resume that gives you every advantage over other candidates.
  2. Optimize your accountant resume to pass the ATS keyword analysis.
  3. The summary of your accounting resume is the place to incorporate some soft skills, while adding a personal dimension to catch the recruiter's attention.
  4. Give prominence to your accountant certifications.
  5. Certifications are very important for accountants and should appear in a prominent resume location.
  6. Provide context to the employment history highlights by elaborating with facts and figures.
  7. Make your education section clean, concise and easy to read.
  8. Tailor your resume skills list to each accounting position you apply for, emphasizing hard skills and technical competencies.
  9. Choose a visually attractive template to impress hiring managers and bug-free to ensure ATS compatibility.
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And if you want the perfect tool to save yourself time and win your ideal accounting position, use our resume builder with field-tested templates and resume examples!

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