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What to Include in an Accountant Resume

The accountant resume you create needs to accommodate your special set of skills and speak directly to the hiring manager. But while your specific certifications and the experience will be important to putting together a unique job application, there are sections that every accountant resume should include, and those sections are:

  • Professional History
  • Educational Background
  • Industry Certifications
  • Technical Skills

As you put your accountant resume together using good accountant resume samples, you will need to choose between a chronological and functional format. The chronological format lists your experience in order by date, and is the most common format people use. The functional resume highlights your career accomplishments and spends less time on your professional experience.

Accountants who are just entering the job market, or have long gaps in their employment history, will want to use the functional resume to show off their abilities. But if you have been building a strong career in the accounting field, then a chronological resume would suit you best.

How to Write the Accountant Resume Summary Statement

Your summary statement gives the reader a quick idea as to what they can expect to see in your resume. The purpose of this statement is to grab the attention of the hiring manager and concisely explain how you add value to their company, which means that you will want to take the time to customize your summary statement to match what the hiring manager will need to see.

If you write a strong summary statement, then the hiring manager should be interested in continuing with the rest of your resume. Here are a couple of summary statement samples to help you understand what you are trying to accomplish with this part of your resume:

Dedicated forensic accountant who has spent years studying a wide variety of accounting methods, including complex bank reconciliations and false P&L reports. A hard worker who puts in the hours necessary to deliver the information that is required for each project. Experienced in tracking accounts payable and receivables, comparing audited books from year to year, analyzing annual reports for errors and tracking incorrect calculations to their origins.

Reliable staff accountant with experience working on payroll, accounts receivable and inventory. Developed a strong background in customizing inventory software platforms to meet the needs of the logistics and inventory control groups. Extensive experience in working with third-party payroll providers and auditing payroll records to ensure accuracy.

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How to Write the Accountant Education Section

Hiring managers are always looking for the best of the best, and that is why your educational background is important for furthering your accounting career. Potential employers are more interested in the school you attended, your final GPA (if it was above 3.5), and the type of degree you obtained than they are the year you graduated. You can see different formats for this type of information when you check out various accountant resume samples.

If you finished with a cum laude designation or any similar honors, then include that in your education section as well. You will want to leave your professional certification history for a separate section.

How to Write the Accountant Work Experience Section

Your work experience section is where you establish your value to the company by chronicling your past duties and accomplishments. Use concise bullet point lists instead of full paragraphs. Hiring managers will want to be able to scan your resume and find the information that they want quickly. Your work experience section should indicate the financial size of each company you worked for, and you should also indicate whether that company was public or private. Be sure to eliminate gaps in your employment by including the month and the year in each work history entry.

When it comes to the accounting field, most potential employers will be interested in what you have done in the past 10 to 15 years. Accounting methods and tools change so much that anything you did 20 years ago may no longer be relevant to the employer. While you should list all of your professional experience in your work history section, you will notice that many accountant resume samples only want you to offer detail for the last 10 to 15 years. Any jobs that go beyond that time frame can be listed without any extra details.

Employers want to see how creative you can be when solving accounting problems, and they want to see professionals who can streamline operations to save the company money. For example, your ability to shorten the bank reconciliation process by a week each year is valuable because it gets results while saving the company money. You will also want to include your ability to develop effective processes to ensure the accuracy of spreadsheets and financial books.

Action Verbs to Include in Your Accountant Work Experience Section

  • Audited
  • Developed
  • Modeled
  • Negotiated
  • Reduced
  • Optimized
  • Reconciled
  • Calculated
  • Researched
  • Monitored
  • Processed
  • Analyzed
  • Compiled

How to Write the Accountant Skills Section

In the accounting industry, your technical skills will allow you to stand out from the other candidates. These technical skills will include software you have worked with, accounting processes you are familiar with and the various types of accounting tasks you have mastered over the years. For example, bank reconciliations and aging report analysis are two accounting tasks that employers may be looking for when they go through resumes.

When you list the software you have worked with, you can see from various accountant resume samples that it is important to be very specific. Instead of grouping programs under the Microsoft Office name, separate them and mention them individually. Other accounting software names that get attention are Oracle, Hyperion, SAP, Quickbooks, Crystal Reports and Xero. You can also list every individual type of software you have worked with as well. For example, your experience with Oracle 11i software will give a hiring manager a precise representation of your technical background.
TIP: Need a cover letter? Click here to view our Accountant cover letters.

How to Write the Accountant Industry Certifications Section

When you look at various accountant resume samples, you will notice that they separate out industry certifications. This is because these certifications contain specific information that the hiring manager will want to easily find when scanning your resume. An impressive list of professional certifications on your resume will go a long way towards getting the attention of any potential employer.

Your certifications should be listed by the year they were achieved, the certifying organization, where you earned your certification and the certification designation. A sample listing would look like this:

1978 - American Institute of CPAs - University of Georgia - CPA

Should I Include References in my Accountant Resume?

Hiring managers looking at accounting resumes want to see a lot of technical information that will help them to decide which candidate has the precise skills that fit the company's needs. It is not uncommon for a hiring manager to scan dozens of resumes a day just to set up initial screening interviews. As a general rule, references are left off of resumes because they are best presented on a separate page. In the accounting world, that rule holds fast.

On your separate references page, it helps to have a variety of people who can speak about your professional skills. You will not need any personal references for an accountant resume, unless the company requests them during the interview process. A good array of references includes former managers, former clients (if you ever worked as a private contractor), co-workers you used to have regular contact with in a professional capacity, former vendors or bank representatives you worked with and third-party service providers (payroll companies, for example) that you used to work with on a regular basis.

Accountant Resume Fails: Mistakes to Avoid

    • Your resume is too focused on your professional experience and not your specific accomplishments. Hiring managers want to see what you have done in your career to benefit past employers, and they want to talk to you about how you will bring those skills to their company.
    • If you write a generic objective statement in your resume, then it is as if you are wasting the hiring manager's time. The hiring manager wants to see specific career objectives you have, and how you will benefit the company as you achieve those objectives.
    • You present a resume that is the wrong length. Too many accounting professionals leave out some of their accomplishments just to get their resume down to one page because they heard that one-page resumes are required. Then there are the accountants who write too much and give information the hiring manager does not need. Do not be afraid to go more than one page if you are offering concise, valuable information. At the same time, do not be intimidated by a resume that appears to be too short. The hiring manager is more interested in the information on your resume than how long it is.
    • Personal pronouns in an accounting resume will make the hiring manager put you in the pile of people not to be called. Never use the words "I" or "me" in your resume because they take away from the professional tone of your qualifications.

Job Prospects in the Accountant Industry

The Bureau of Labor Statistics points out that the fields of accounting and auditing will grow by a rate of 13 percent between 2012 and 2022. When compared to the rest of the employment outlook for all other industries, that rate of growth is average. The rate of expansion for the accountant field is tied directly to the health of the domestic economy. As the economy improves, the need for accounting professionals will increase.

Entry-level accountant positions, such as auditing clerk and bookkeeper, will experience similar growth through 2022. On average, 20 percent of all accounting professionals work more than 40 hours per week, with severe spikes in work hours at the end of each year due to companies closing their books for the year and the beginning of tax season.

Use our accountant resume samples to create a resume that will include all of the information hiring managers need. Be sure to highlight your strongest qualifications, and remember to include all of your professional certifications.

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