7 things HR is looking for on your CPA resume
November 10, 2020

7 Things HR Is Looking for on Your CPA Resume

Are you scouting for CPA job opportunities? A fulfilling and lucrative career awaits you — one that provides tremendous growth opportunities for shaping the financial health of an organization through careful financial reporting and strong financial advising and forecasting. To succeed, you need to send out a compelling resume — the most compelling among your peers, and ensure that it is considered by hiring managers.

The question is, does your resume tell a convincing story of your skills and experience? Learn how to write a CPA resume that lands you the job — and the fulfilling career you worked so hard to achieve:

1. Professional designations and relevant experience

With machine learning and automation growth, many hiring managers no longer manually read every resume that lands in their inbox. Instead, they use algorithms to screen resumes for required keywords, often a list of necessary qualifications for the job.

These are professional designations like Certified Public Accountant, and skills like public accounting, knowledge of business operations and financial advising. Make these professional experiences central on your resume to increase chances of capture by resume screening software — and selection by hiring managers.

2. Include important keywords

Many aspiring CPAs are tempted to pad their resumes when applying to various job opportunities. Hiring managers caution that this can hurt a candidate’s chances of landing the job. It’s tempting to overload your resume with every possible fancy keyword or industry buzzword, but research shows that focusing on the right keywords based on your experience and the position you’re applying for can be more beneficial than keyword stuffing.

As a designated accountant pursuing high level positions, it is important to capture the hiring manager’s attention with your experience by using keywords such as:

  • Control implementation
  • ERP/SAP integration
  • General Ledger Structure
  • Financial Reporting Package
  • KPI
  • Financial Analysis

If you are someone pursuing lower level accounting positions, you will need to focus on words that highlight your primary responsibilities.

3. Your current CPA status

It should go without saying that when you’re applying with a CPA status, you need to lead with it. That means highlighting your current CPA status as it corresponds to your career aspirations and demonstrating how it makes you the best person for the job.

Start by setting your sights on what you can realistically achieve. If you are an experienced CPA looking for growth opportunities at your next job, focus on the strength of your professional experience.

In contrast, if you’re trying to land your first accounting job and don’t have the same breadth of experience as a seasoned professional, focus on entry-level positions and highlight your academic achievements, primarily on CPA enrolment and progress.

4. Related CPA certifications

This depends on where you’re applying to and how much value the company places on acquiring the CPA designation. While some accounting jobs do not necessarily require the CPA designation, most senior roles in well-known organizations do. Besides, you worked hard to achieve this professional designation, so make sure to use it to your advantage.

Add a section called Certifications near the top of your resume to show how much of the CPA exam you have completed or when you passed it. List out other relevant certifications you may have achieved in your career — these would easily set you apart from similarly qualified candidates who have worked the same number of years and in the same capacities.

5. A history of accomplishments and cross-industry experience

CPAs applying to the same job opportunities often have the same amount and breadth of experience, so your priority is to stand out from the competition. Your resume shouldn’t just be listing all the same positions and responsibilities but telling a compelling narrative about them.

A marketable CPA resume provides detailed information about your previous roles, the industries you worked with, and most significantly, the outcome of your work. Rather than merely stating that you audited accounts and prepared financial statements, give your work context: what was the size of these accounts, how many deficiencies did you reconcile, and what industries did you work in?

Accounting firms and industry employers don’t just hire CPAs; accounting professionals function in various industries and provide valuable financial management expertise. Communicate your cross-industry experience by painting a convincing picture: one that is anchored on metrics like percentages. This demonstrates a good command of your bread and butter — numbers and detail-oriented financial reporting, and the results you can deliver at your next role.

6. An elevator pitch

Hiring managers receive many resumes — too many to read in detail one by one. Like any good product, you need a good hook or pitch that keeps yours from landing in the reject pile. Give the hiring manager a preview of your most impressive professional accomplishments. Use this summary to connect your previous experience to your future career goals, and highlight that these would be met by landing the job opportunity you’re applying to and the growth it promises.

7. The basics of a good resume

No matter what job you’re applying to, you need to follow acceptable resume writing practices. These include using the corrector standard resume layout in the financial services industry and tailoring your resume to feature the most relevant skills and experience to every CPA job opportunity.

Most hiring managers and recruiters also prefer a chronological list of previous roles to capture your professional history without distracting creative elements that take away the focus from your experience. Instead, channel your creative energy to presenting technical details like proficiency, training, and certifications in crucial industry technology by tying these into compelling descriptions of previous roles to create a cohesive narrative about what you have brought to the table and can bring to a new position.

Finally, don’t forget to proofread — this might be minor, but accountants are known for being precise and detail-oriented, so make sure your resume tells the same story about you. The last thing you want is to submit a resume that isn’t error-free, especially when applying to such a crucial role for financial controls and regulatory compliance.

To learn more resume writing tips for landing the most competitive CPA job opportunities, call us at 905-273-6765 or contact us here for a free resume consultation.

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