How to Build a Killer Accountant Resume by the Numbers

You studied to be an accountant because you’re quick with numbers and are very good at managing the details. But if you write a vague, boring resume with the phrase “detail-oriented” shoehorned in somewhere, you’re going to end up at the bottom of the slush pile. As resume writing experts, we’ll show you how to build out your Accountant resume from top to bottom by showing you examples of what to say–and what not to say.

What Does an Accountant Do?

By Investopedia’s definition, an accountant is “A professional person who performs accounting functions such as audits or financial statement analysis. Accountants can either be employed with an accounting firm, a large company with an internal accounting department, or can set up an individual practice.” Notice that it’s not “that person who only has a job at tax time and then crawls up a chimney to build a nest and wait until the next year.” Accountants are employed year-round by just about every company with any income to speak of to analyze the budgets, income and expenses, make sure accurate records are being kept, and to audit past records to ensure everything runs smoothly.

What Does an Accountant Need to Show on Their Resume?

An accountant is a person who searches for and fixes mistakes and discrepancies in accounting records, so a would-be accountant needs to demonstrate to the hiring manager that they are thorough, conscientious and excellent at working with the small details. Now, it is a job hunting SIN to write “thorough, conscientious and detail-oriented” on your resume, so you’re not going to do that. Any schmuck can write that about themselves, right? But you’re not a schmuck, so you’re going to demonstrate that those things are true with concrete details. Then, you’re going to get hired while all of the other self-style ‘detail-oriented’ accountants sit at home and cry. (If that phrase is on your resume right now, go ahead and delete it while no one’s looking, and no one ever has to know. It’ll be our secret.)

A Terrible Accountant Resume Says:

“Perform accounts payable entries.”

Why isn’t this a complete sentence? Folks, WHY do you think you can’t put full sentences in your bullet points?? ‘Bullet point’ doesn’t mean ‘fragment of a thought in the vaguest terms imaginable that expresses the least possible amount of information about anything I did at my job’. And what about all the missing information here? How often did you perform these entries? Entered into what? On whose behalf did you do this–was this a one-time report for the CEO? A monthly accounting? Add details.

“Perform balance sheet account reconciliations within established timelines.”

How on earth can this be impressive if we don’t know what those timelines are?

“Assist with annual audit schedule preparation.”

This tells a hiring manager literally nothing. Assisted how? For all the person reading this knows, you assisted by fetching coffee. It doesn’t even mention who was being assisted. A sentence this vague always looks like the person writing it was trying to cover up the fact that they didn’t actually do very much. Don’t let the reader assume that! Tell them exactly what you did to display your expertise and skills.

An Excellent Accountant Resume Says:

“Reconciled revenue and expense accounts, created general journal entries, and managed a $300K inventory of hardware for a software provider on a five-member accounting team.”

Much better. This sentence tells us exactly what the person did, how much responsibility they had, and it sets the context for the services performed.

“Increased inventory accuracy from 50% to 100% by developing an inventory control system that centralized the input and updating of inventory information in MS Dynamics CRM.”

This might be the most important line in the resume–it demonstrates a concrete, tangible improvement that they made for their previous employer. You need to include wins like this to show a potential new boss what you could do for their company, with your proactive work ethic and skill.

“Processed and tracked Return Merchandise Authorizations (RMAs) in MS Dynamics CRM and MS Excel, which included receiving damaged equipment, supplying loaner equipment, and coordinating shipping and pick up.”

Don’t forget to mention the names of specific software, processes, and tools that you used in your previous job. It demonstrates expertise, and shows that you will not need to be trained to get up to speed in these processes.

The Takeaway

Building out an effective Accountant resume is all about providing the hard numbers and the specific details to show how good you are at your job. And don’t forget–if you still need a little help on the formatting side of things, we offer a fully-loaded professional resume template, including a full tips and tricks guide written by our full-time editors themselves. The template can give you professional editing results at a DIY price, leaving you enough money in your budget for a shiny new blinged-out calculator. Give us a call if you get stuck–we’re always here to answer your resume questions.

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