CPA Resume & Cover Letters

One of the most important documents you’ll need to get hired as a CPA is your resume. Find out resume writing recommendations from our expert CPAs.
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Whether you’re a recent college graduate looking for a job, or have been in the accounting profession a while and are ready for your next career move, one of the most important documents you’ll need to get hired is your resume. Your resume reflects your past and present accomplishments–both academically and professionally. 

So, what’s the best accounting resume tip that you’ll need to make sure you get your foot in the door? We asked our expert CPAs who have been working in the industry for years–and they all agreed:

Keep your resume to one page in length.

People think they need to include everything they’ve ever done on their resume from the time they were in high school until now. After all–the longer the resume, the more experience it seems you have–and the more experience means being a better candidate for the job, right? Not exactly! You must choose quality over quantity for your resume. The reason is that the job market is so competitive, and recruiters rarely have time to go over resumes that are longer than a page.

This is particularly true for accounting. Other professions can of course be very different–there are people who apply to work at a university as a building manager and 3-page resumes are typical. But in the accounting world, resumes are expected to be 1 page in length. Here’s exactly what recruiters want to know:

  • What was your overall GPA?
  • What’s your accounting GPA?
  • Did you work during school? Was any of it accounting work?
  • Do you plan to take the CPA exam?
  • Were you involved in leadership activities (like Beta Alpha Psi)?

If you write a effective resume, you will have all of that information presented in a logical and concise manner, helping your overall chances of getting hired for your dream position.

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CPA Cover Letter

It’s extremely important that you include a cover letter when submitting an application for any type of professional opportunity. While some job descriptions may not specify the attachment of a cover letter, be sure to always provide one.

Why Are Cover Letters So Important?

Searching for a job can be tedious, but for good reason. Employers put candidates through the process of applying and interviewing to make sure they find the best fit for the job and that the chosen applicant fits well within the company culture. Cover letters are meant to give employers a better idea of who you are, what you’re passionate about, and how you can contribute to their company. Writing a cover letter that really speaks to your passions, career goals, work ethic, and qualifications in a way that relates to the company’s own mission, goals, and needs. Employers will not only acknowledge your extra effort but gain a better understanding of who you are and how you’ll fit into their organization.

How to Write a Cover Letter

Look anywhere, and you’ll find in sample cover letters that the formula is simple and straightforward. Here’s what the cover letter format usually looks like:

  1. The date.
  2. Your name, address, email, and phone number (you can choose to just put down your city if you don’t want to enter your whole address) at the top of the letter or at the top left hand side
  3. The name of the Manager or HR Manager or Hiring Manager at the top left corner followed by the company’s name and address.

The cover letter should consist of 3-4 paragraphs and be no longer than ¾ to 1 page long.
You’ll want to include the following in your cover letter:

  1. An opening paragraph that describes who you are, how you heard about the position, and the position you’re applying to.
  2. How your background and skills qualify you for the position.
  3. A closing paragraph in which you relate to the company and how you would fit in.

Example Cover Letter

Here’s a sample of a cover letter for someone looking to go into public accounting. We’ve included some commentary in italics:

May 12, 20XX

John Smith
San Francisco, CA

Jim Hobart
SC&DP Accounting Firm
451 Market Street
San Francisco, CA

Dear Jim,

I am writing to express my interest in the Tax Accountant position being offered at SC&DP Accounting Firm through LinkedIn. As a former Corporate Banker with over five years’ experience and my CPA license, I believe I would be an asset to your firm.

In this opening paragraph, John clearly states what position he’s applying to, where he saw the job ad, and why he believes he will be a good candidate for their consideration.

A highly organized and self-driven individual, my passion for the field of Accounting started in my diverse financial positions with multiple companies. As I maintained financial records, managed budgets, risk assessments, as well as business strategy reviews, I have gained valuable insight within the industry that not only allowed me to help others reach their financial goals, but also be at the forefront of protecting my client’s financial integrities.

In this second paragraph, John talks about where his passion for accounting began and gives a general overview of how his past experience has prepared him for the field.

In my current position as a Financial Analyst with Stanley Cooper Partners, I lead a team of 7, executing commercial processes and gaining a specialist’s understanding of financial instruments as well as accounting software that resulted in a more efficient workflow for company protocol. This also increased productivity and led to my promotion to Sr. Financial Analyst within a year’s time at the company.

In this third paragraph, John goes into his current position, including what his job duties entail and how they have further helped prepare him for success. This paragraph also describes his ability to manage and take initiative, as well as the value he would bring to the company.

As a recently licensed Certified Public Accountant, I feel that my background in tandem with my accomplished communication skills, dedication to excellence, and proactive personality is aligned to what SC&DP is looking for in a Tax Accountant. I admire your company’s mission to help small and medium sized businesses grow to continue to impact their local communities and economies. I hope to contribute to this mission as I am also a firm advocate of helping local businesses thrive.

Lastly, John talks about his CPA certification. And, as we all know, having a CPA speaks volumes to a candidate’s dedication to hard work. Furthermore, toward the end, he relates his admiration for the company’s mission and how it aligns to his own beliefs.

Thank you for your time and consideration. I look forward to hearing back from you.

John Smith

At the end of his cover letter, John includes a nice closing sentence that thanks the reader for their time and reiterates his enthusiasm for the position by stating that he hopes to hear back from them.

The cover letter is detailed and thorough, but it is pretty generic. Craft your cover letter according to your own personality and style, especially when you talk about how your passion for the profession developed and what you’ve done to follow that passion. In rare instances, some companies will ask you to craft a cover letter with specific guidelines.

The final step is to proofread! We’ve spoken with employers who have actually turned candidates away due to incorrect spelling or grammar usage. Meticulously proofread your work 3 or 4 times to ensure that everything is spelled correctly and that nothing impedes the cohesion of your letter. This is just good personal and professional practice in general, so make it a habit!

We hope these resume and cover letter tips and examples serve as a helpful guide for your next job application and that you include one in every professional application that you submit!

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