Accountants are trained in laws and regulations for financial statements, and their job is to look at financial statements to make sure they comply. Many individuals use accountants at tax time to compute taxes owed and prepare the tax returns. Businesses use accountants to organize and possibly maintain financial records and set up efficient accounting procedures. Employers relay on accountants to make recommendations that will reduce their costs and enhance revenues in order to increase profits. If you are seeking a job as an accountant, it is important to create a resume that clearly states your skills and accomplishments to portray you as the best candidate for the job.
Accountant Job Description
There are four main specialized areas for accountants, including public accountants, management accountants, governmental accountants and internal auditors. CPA’s, Certified Public Accountants, have a wide range of responsibilities for auditing, consulting and tax preparation. Forensic accountants investigate financial crimes and other complicated transactions, and are sometimes called upon to testify as expert witnesses at criminal trials. Management accountants often work for corporations and concentrate on the cost of doing business including budgeting and employee performance evaluation. Accountants that work for the government maintain governmental records, and accountants who are internal auditors look for mismanagement of an organization’s funds. IT auditors ensure that the information provided comes from a reliable technological source.
Occupational Outlook and Salary for Accountants
According to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment growth for accountants is expected to increase 16 percent from 2010 to 2020, in keeping with the average for all other occupations. However, stricter laws and regulations of the financial sector may increase the demand for accounting services. Also, with the growing global economy, accountants with expertise in international trade and international mergers and acquisitions may be in demand. In particular, CPA’s and accountants with a master’s degree in business or accounting will probably have an advantage in a competitive job market. In 2010 the median pay for accountants was $61,690. Top accountants can earn more than $100,000 annually.
Personal Qualities of Successful Accountants
If you are thinking of becoming an accountant, it is helpful to understand the personal characteristics that will assist you in your chosen profession. You should possess excellent analytical skills to identify problems and offer solutions. Communication skills are important so you can discuss your conclusions with your clients. Attention to detail is a must, and it helps to be very well organized. Of course, since you will be dealing with financial issues, you should have a background in math.
Becoming an Accountant
While most employers prefer accountants with a master’s degree, some accountants may get hired with only a bachelor’s degree in accounting or a related field. Many accountants become certified with certifications like a CPA. Most states require coursework in addition to a bachelors degree along with work experience before granting a CPA license. Aspiring accountants can complete an internship or part time position with an accounting firm for hands-on experience in the field. Some colleges and universities have specialized programs for different areas of accounting, but it is common for accountants to be hired as a junior accountant and receive on the job training in specialized areas.
Resume Basics for an Accounting Position
Remember that you only have one chance to make a first impression. Whether you are sending along your resume by email or mailing it, make sure it has a professional look. That means, for most people, fitting it onto a letter-sized 8.5 inch page and using a businesslike font like Times New Roman or Arial in a 10 -12 point font size and black ink. Leave a 1-inch margin all around the page, top, bottom and sides. Consistency is important. Be sure to use italics and bolding for comparable elements, and list company names, location, your position and your responsibilities in a consistent way. If you list the company name in italics first, all companies should be listed that way. Use bulleted lists and phrases instead of sentences.
Resume Formats for Accountants
When it comes to resumes, one size definitely does not fit all. If you are an experienced professional with an uninterrupted job history, you can consider a chronological resume which lists the companies you worked for and the positions you held in reverse chronological order. Recent graduates, people changing careers and those who have been out of the workforce for one reason or another can consider a functional resume which includes a Skills section to highlight experience and abilities. These skills may have been acquired on the job, as a volunteer or as part of an internship. The functional resume may not go into where the skills were acquired.
New Resume Formats
Resumes are changing, along with everything else. Employers no longer want to see only a long list of your previous jobs. They are more interested in what skills you can bring to the job at hand. Instead of listing a career objective, which can be limiting, write a brief Career Summary or Profile under your letterhead with your name, address, email and phone number. In two or three brief sentences, tell the story of your accomplishments to date. You can then list your skills in bullet format under the heading Skills Summary. Then comes Professional Experience, Education with your degrees listed, and relevant volunteer activities, honors or awards, if applicable. Feel free to emphasize any portion of the resume to make it suit your particular credentials.
Computerized Applicant Selection
The sad truth is that even after all of your hard work, your resume may not even be seen. Nowadays, a computer system called an Applicant Tracking System or ATS may do the selecting. So how to you make sure that yours is one of the resumes chosen for consideration? Experts say you should read the job description carefully and use the same job title and list the skills they want with the skills you have, using the same words. Do not use fancy font, borders or logos.
Sample Resume for an Accountant
1234 Sunny Drive, Anywhere, NY 123456 444.444-4444 firstname.lastname@example.org LinkedIn URL
Chief Accounting Officer
(career summary or profile)
Accomplished accounting professional with 10 years of experience in an international business environment. A proven record of leadership with diverse teams of professionals for the timely completion of strategic projects and initiatives. Skilled at communicating complex issues to senior executives.
(list as many as you can)
- Due Diligence
- Cross Functional Leadership
- Cash Flow Forecasting
- Post Acquisition Integration
- Audit Management
- Corporate Development Initiatives
(list in reverse chronological order)
Chief Accounting Officer, XYZ Corporation, Oyster Bay, New York, 2013-present
(list in reverse chronological order)
XYZ University, Syracuse, NY: MBA, 2006
ABC College, Farmingdale, NY: BA, 2004