Forget CEOs — accountants are the backbone of modern business. They keep track of finances to ensure that the organization runs smoothly and effectively. Their findings and recommendations also help managers make decisions about which markets to enter and what contracts to pursue.
Let’s review the steps to creating an effective resume for an accountant that will appeal to renowned firms like Ernst & Young.
How to Write a Summary for an Accountant
- Mention your previous experience. Note how long you’ve been in the finance sphere and what firms you’ve been employed at. Most accounting firms prefer candidates with two years of experience, whether it’s a combination of internships or full-time employment.
- Describe your greatest strength. Do you excel at auditing reports? Are you punctual and timely in submitting financial documents? Are you on point for spotting trends in the marketplace? If so, put it in your summary, along with any other strengths that show your competency.
- Explain what you’re eager to accomplish in the next stage of your career. What are you hoping to achieve in your next position? What areas are you looking to grow in? What aspects of your career are you eager to develop?
Tip: Be specific about your experiences and use strong verbs. The following is a weak example, "Searching for an accounting job at a reputable firm," whereas this is stronger, "Accountant with 10 years of experience analyzing and submitting financial reports for companies Friedman LLP and Crowe LLP. Exceptional ability to ensure report accuracy and provide managers with financial trends to direct business strategy. Seeking to progress my career and continue to help companies reach their potential."
How to List Your Work Experience as an Accountant
- Use reverse chronological format. List your most recent jobs first, as this shows managers how you’ve gained experience in the industry.
- Use action verbs related to accounting. Verbs are critical to demonstrating what you can do for the company. Review the following list for some powerful examples.
See our list of over 350 action verbs to find more.
Senior Level Work Experience as an Accountant
- Prepared and recorded asset, liability, revenue, and expenses entries by compiling and analyzing account information
- Filed annual financial statements and quarterly reports as fitting GAAP standards
- Interpreted financial data in the marketplace to provide management with recommendations for business strategies
- Protected the organization’s integrity and confidentiality by ensuring the accuracy and privacy of financial reports
- Maintained general ledger to record and balance transactions
- Completed external audit by analyzing the general ledger and providing the auditor with necessary information
Junior Level Work Experience as an Accountant
- Posted journal entries to ensure accuracy of financial transactions
- Updated financial statements with balanced entries, accounting for occurrences like bad debt expense
- Paid monthly payroll for 75 employees
- Assisted senior accountants with the filing of 10-K annual financial reports
- Protected the organization’s integrity and confidentiality by ensuring the accuracy and privacy of financial data
- Updated financial data in databases to ensure that information will be immediately available when needed
How to List Your Skills as an Accountant
Accountants must improve and add to their skill-set in order to keep apace with changing technology. Emphasize some of the skills you’ve developed to help your resume stand out.
- Software Proficiency
- Attention to Detail
- Effective Communication
- Critical Thinking
- Standards of Accounting
- Data Analysis
- Data Forecasting
How to List Your Education as an Accountant
Accountants generally require a bachelor’s degree and 2+ years of experience, though some companies even prefer master’s degrees. You also need to be versed in the Generally Accepted Accounting Principles (GAAP), which are the standards set forth by the US government. Some accountants undergo training to become a Certified Public Accountant (CPA) since it licenses them to make more high-level business and tax decisions. Accountants without CPA certification are relegated to more routine financial accounting work.
Requirements for accounting licensure vary by state but generally involve the following:
- Bachelor’s Degree in finance, accounting, economics, business, or a related field
- Consider take the CPA exam
- Acquire other certifications like Chartered Global Management Accountant (CGMA), Certified Management Accountant (CMA) or Certified Internal Auditor (CIA). The more certifications you have, the more you will stand out as a qualified and competent candidate.
- Complete a background check
- Apply for a license in the state you’re located in
You can find more details about certifications at Best Accounting Certifications for 2020.
Accountant Career Overview
The job outlook for accountants is growing at 6% per year, which is considered average. In 2018 there were 1,424,000 jobs available.
Accountants make $70,500 per year on average. However, salaries could be as high as $122,140 depending on the number of certifications you have acquired.
Top Paying Salaries by State
- $102,090 -- New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania
- $97,640 -- California
- $95,570 -- District of Columbia
- $92,770 -- Connecticut
- $90,880 -- Michigan
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