A resume is one of the most important documents you'll need to get hired, regardless of whether you're a recent college graduate looking for a job or a long-time CPA professional preparing for your next career move. Your resume highlights your academic and professional accomplishments from the past and present.
The popular wisdom about resumes is that the longer they are, the more experienced you appear to be. This is no longer the case. The notion that a long and exhaustive resume is a one-way ticket to landing a job is far from the truth.
So, what is the most effective CPA resume tip that will guarantee you an interview? Prioritize the quality of your resume over its quantity. Due to the competitive nature of the job market, recruiters rarely have time to review resumes longer than one page, especially in the accounting field. Therefore, a one-page resume is what’s expected now and is what recruiters are looking for. If you write an effective resume, you should be able to grab the recruiter's attention quickly, increasing your chances of landing your dream job.
How To Write A Resume
Preparing the Resume
Do your homework and look for the qualities your potential job requires. Include these skills and keywords in your resume wherever you can. Your goal is to show that you are qualified and would be a perfect fit for the role. It would be helpful if you look through some standard resume examples online to get a basic idea. This will help you choose a resume format.
Contact Information: Include your contact information (name, email address, and telephone number) in large font at the top of your resume so the recruiter can easily identify you. Avoid putting your mailing address on your resume.
Objective: Including an objective statement on your resume is optional. However, it is a great way to highlight your skills and explain why you are qualified for the position. Keep it short and crisp, as you will detail your job-specific abilities and responsibilities in the experience section.
Experience: There are many ways to list your professional experience in a resume. Components like company name, job title, years of experience, and duties are especially important to include in this section. Always list your recent experience first followed by past experience. If your resume does not precisely match what they are seeking, add a cover letter to emphasize the qualities that make you the ideal candidate. For instance, if you have worked in the private sector for many years but wish to enter public accounting, include skills that demonstrate you are self-motivated and can work well individually as well as in a team.
Education: List your education credentials in reverse chronological order, beginning with the most recent. For example, Master's students should list their graduate school first. We also recommend omitting high school entirely and including only your most recent and relevant education. In case of an aspiring CPA, if accounting is your second degree, include both your accounting degree and your previous highest degree.
Additional Information: This is another optional section where individuals can list special abilities and interests. This gives the recruiter an idea of who you are outside of work. Here you can add elements such as your social media handle where you educate others about the CPA exam. Remember to maintain a professional tone if you choose to include this information.
References: Your resume should not include references. A recruiter will inquire if they are required.
Tips To Write A Resume For CPAs
It's critical to show future employers that you're serious about getting a CPA job, no matter where you are in the process. An outstanding resume is the stepping stone to getting there. Here are a few tips to help you out with your resume writing.
Use Your CPA Status As The Focus Point
If there are job applications requiring a CPA license, your CPA status should be the highlighted point. Recruiters looking for a CPA candidate will especially notice that, as it is a core requirement while applying for jobs requiring a CPA license.
- If you are an experienced accountant pursuing a CPA license, mention your exam progress on your resume prominently.
- If you're an entry-level applicant right out of college, highlight your CPA Exam status on your resume if you’ve already completed the exam. Having completed your exam this early on in your career will really stand out.
- If you're a student seeking an accounting internship and you've already passed sections of the CPA Exam, it's also a good idea to highlight this.
Place Your CPA Exam Progress in the Most Relevant Section
Analyze the desired position and determine whether your CPA experience could help you stand out. If applicable, include a section titled "Certifications" near the top of your resume and indicate your current CPA Exam status. This section could be more impressive if you have additional certifications to add.
If your desired employer highly values the CPA, you should include your exam progress in the ‘objectives section’ near the top of the page. This will let the recruiter know you are well on your way to gaining licensure.
Mentioning your CPA status in your cover letter is also a good idea, provided that it is relevant to the position you are applying for.
Be Specific Regarding Your Exam and Certification
If you've just begun the CPA Exam process, describe your CPA Candidate Status in the Education Section of your resume. You should also include your first section exam date. If you have already passed a section, indicate the sections you have passed and include the dates of any upcoming scheduled exam section(s).
Highlight Your Skills as a CPA
You can continue to add value to your resume after becoming a CPA by earning additional certifications. Obtaining certifications after becoming a CPA could benefit you in your career. Illustrating a willingness to learn new skills and the competence to earn certifications can show your employer how committed you are. This can lead to promotions, pay raises, and additional professional opportunities.
Example of a CPA Resume
Here is a sample of a CPA resume.
Steven J. Forbes, CPA
Certified Public Accountant with more than five years of experience in all aspects of finance and accounting. Previously worked in ‘xyz’ company as a budget analyst and gained hands-on experience in corporate accounting. Seeking a position with a top firm in financial planning and analysis or tax.
- Certified Public Accountant, Florida Board of Accountancy, 2016
- Certified Internal Auditor, Institute of Internal Auditors, 2018
Alta Street Capital, St. Petersburg, FL
Certified Public Accountant
Key Qualifications & Responsibilities
- Managed the financial records of the company in SAP and kept them up to date.
- Prepared corporate and small-business financial strategies and ensured that firms were protected from audits and market fluctuations.
- Advised board members and management on investment opportunities and financial decisions.
- Analyzed and corrected errors in budgets and accounting records by using advanced Excel functionality and automation.
Thomas Edison State University, Trenton, NJ
Bachelor of Science in Finance
Relevant Coursework: Business Finance, Business Administration, Decision-Making, Accounting Fundamentals, Fundamentals of Investments, Modern Business Concepts, Personal Tax Planning & Accounting.
- Corporate Accounting
- Monthly close entries
- Financial Planning & Analysis
- Critical thinking
- Computer-aided audit tools
- SOX compliance
Why Are Cover Letters So Important?
Many of us find job hunting to be tedious. Employers put candidates through a rigorous application and lengthy interview process to ensure that they are the best fit for the position and the company's culture.
Many people make the mistake of using the cover letter to rehash their resume in complete sentences, but that is not beneficial. The purpose of a cover letter is to provide employers with a more complete picture of who you are, what you enjoy doing, and how you can uniquely contribute to their company.
If you take the extra step to write a cover letter that speaks to your passions, desires, work ethic, as well as how your qualifications can positively impact the company, employers will not only recognize your extra effort but also gain a better understanding of you and your aspirations. You'll go from a name on a piece of paper to a potential candidate they want to screen.
How To Write A Cover Letter
Your cover letter and resume will help potential employers learn more about you. In light of this, you may wish to format the cover letter and resume in a similar fashion. For instance, your name and contact information should appear at the top. If you center-align the information in your cover letter or use a specific font, try doing the same for your resume. The guiding principle to remember is consistency.
Use the cover letter to demonstrate your interest in the position, your familiarity with the company’s profile, and why you would be a good fit. Do not be afraid to use humor or a unique tone to convey your personality. A captivating cover letter will encourage the reader to seek out additional details about you.
Well-written cover letters have uniform formatting throughout, usually including:
- Date of cover letter
- Your name, email, and phone number
- Addressed to the HR Manager or Hiring Manager
- An opening paragraph that details who you are, what position you’re applying for, and how you heard about the position.
- One or two body paragraphs on your background and skills that make you qualified for the position.
- A conclusion in which you relate to the company and how you would fit in well.
- Three to four paragraphs of brief content in total, no longer than one page.
Example of a CPA Cover Letter
Here is an example of a cover letter for someone seeking a position in public accounting.
San Francisco, CA
June 10, 2022
SC & DP Accounting Firm
451 Market Street
San Francisco, CA
I am writing to express my interest in the Tax Accountant position being offered at SC & DP Accounting Firm through LinkedIn. As a former public accountant with over five years of experience and a CPA certification, I am confident that I would be an asset to your company.
Being a highly organized and self-motivated person, my passion for the field of accounting began with my diverse financial positions at multiple companies. As I managed financial records, budgets, and performed risk assessments and business strategy reviews, I gained valuable industry knowledge. It enabled me to assist my clients in achieving their financial goals and safeguarding their financial integrity.
As a newly licensed Certified Public Accountant, I believe that my background, coupled with my accomplished communication skills, commitment to excellence, and proactive personality, aligns with SC & DP's requirements for a Tax Accountant. I admire your company's mission to assist small and medium-sized businesses in expanding so they can continue to have a positive impact on their local communities and economies. I hope to contribute to this mission as I am a staunch supporter of encouraging the success of local businesses.
Thank you for your time and consideration. I look forward to hearing back from you.