The Ultimate Resume Guide: How to Write an Effective Accountant Resume

From the length of your resume to the format for listing employment history, cover letters, and references; this guide will help you create an effective CPA/Accounting resume.

The Ultimate Resume Guide: How to Write an Effective Accountant Resume
Photo of Brenna Goyette
Brenna Goyette
Certified Professional Resume Writer, Career Expert

Updated 6 min read

The accounting profession is filled with highly qualified and talented individuals. This makes it difficult to stand out. Building a standout resume is crucial for those who want to land the job.

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A great resume can help you not only land an interview, but also earn you a better salary and even a promotion. It’s important to know what employers are looking for in order to write an effective CPA/accounting resume. Here are some guidelines that will help you take your career to the next level.

Know the expectations

Employers want to see a resume that grabs attention and relates to them. They want to be able to tell from the first few seconds if this is someone they want to interview.

In order to grab attention, you need an accounting resume that's creative, visually appealing and easy-to-read. Make sure you have a resume that follows the industry's latest trends so employers can easily identify your skills. It needs to contain all of your educational background, any certifications you have, and any relevant work experience you have in accounting or finance.

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The average employer will spend seven seconds scanning a resume before deciding whether or not they want to learn more about it. That's why it's important for your resume content to always be concise and clear. It should include everything from your education level, employment history, skills and accomplishments, awards, professional affiliations and anything else that makes you stand out from the crowd.

Create a great first impression

The first impression you make on a potential employer is critical in the hiring process. They will be evaluating your resume based on both its content and appearance.

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This means that it's important to put extra effort into creating a standout resume. If you're applying for a position, you need to show the employer that you're qualified for the job.

A few ways to create a great first impression include:

  • Writing an effective objective statement
  • Tailoring your resume to the job posting
  • Making your resume stand out from other applicants by providing concrete examples of your skills and accomplishments
  • Including keywords in your document
  • Formatting your document well

Follow a specific format

It’s important for all resumes to follow a particular format, but CPA/accounting resumes need to be especially organized. The Accounting Career Center recommends using the following format:

Work Experience

  • Current or most recent job first
  • List the company name and location, your title, your start date, end date (if applicable), and salary


  • List the school name, location, degree received, date of completion, GPA (if available), and any honors or awards received

Professional Affiliations/Memberships

  • List your professional affiliations and memberships with organizations like AICPA and IMA (or similar)


  • Share any interesting information about yourself that might set you apart from other applicants; this can include hobbies or interests that demonstrate your personality and passions

Use keywords and phrases

One of the most important things you can do when creating a resume is to make sure to include keywords and phrases. Employers use these terms to search for resumes, so it's important that your resume includes them too.

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The best way to find out what keywords and phrases employers are looking for is by searching job listings in your industry. You can then take these words and phrases and incorporate them into your resume. This will help you get noticed and stand out from the crowd of other qualified candidates.

This includes including relevant experience in your summary, which we'll discuss next.

Write about your qualifications and experience

Your resume should highlight your qualifications and experience. This is the most important part of your resume.

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You should include relevant work experience, education credentials, skills, professional associations, publications, awards and leadership positions. Include any information that makes you stand out from other applicants.

Make sure your resume is concise - it should not exceed two pages in length. You can use a functional or chronological format to organize this information.

Include work experience in your resume

The most important thing you can do for your professional career is to have a successful career history. The best way to do this, of course, is to include your work experience in your resume.

Employers are always looking for candidates with experience, so it’s important that you include any relevant jobs you’ve had in the past. This includes internships, summer jobs, or any other work that could be related to accounting or finance.

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If you were recently hired at a company and haven’t had time to move up the ranks yet, don’t worry! Include your job title and date of employment on your resume. Even if you're not currently working in an accounting field or position, make sure to list it on your resume because many employers will consider this information.

Include special skills or certifications that you have

Including a certification or special skill in your resume will make you stand out from the rest of the pack. It also demonstrates that you have the knowledge and qualifications necessary to excel in the accounting field.

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For example, if you're a certified public accountant (CPA), this certification should be included on your resume. If you're a certified management accountant (CPA) or a certified information technology auditor (CIA), these certifications should also be included.

Include volunteer work or other activities that demonstrate leadership skills, teamwork, and interpersonal skills

Accounting requires strong interpersonal, leadership, and teamwork skills. This is why it's important to demonstrate these skills on your resume. These skills are often difficult to convey in the traditional experience section of a resume.

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One way you can do this is by including volunteer work or other activities that demonstrate your abilities in these areas. For example, if you've led a team of volunteers who raised $10,000 for an organization or helped recruit 30 new members for the company softball team, this would be worth mentioning on your resume under "extracurricular activities."

Prepare for interview questions

Employers want to know how well you communicate and present yourself. Prepare for interview questions, such as:

  • Where do you see yourself in five years?
  • What is the most interesting/challenging project you've worked on?
  • Why should we hire you?
  • What's your greatest weakness?
  • What's your greatest strength?
  • What are your salary expectations?

You'll also need to prepare answers to these questions

  • Tell me about a time when you succeeded.
  • Tell me about a time when you failed.
  • Tell me about a time when you overcame conflict.
  • Tell me about a time when you didn't meet the deadline and what happened.

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