CPA Resume Example & Writing Guide

A strong resume is essential for CPAs to land interviews and get hired. This guide provides a CPA resume sample and expert tips on how to write an effective resume. Learn what sections to include, how to highlight your accounting skills and achievements, and how to make your resume stand out to employers. Use this advice to improve your resume and job search results.

A strong resume is essential for CPAs looking to advance their career. Your resume is often the first impression you make on potential employers. It needs to highlight your qualifications, experience and skills in a way that grabs attention and makes you stand out from other candidates.

However, writing a great CPA resume isn't always easy. What should you include and how should you structure it for maximum impact? In this guide, we'll break down the key components of a winning CPA resume. We'll show you a real-world example of a CPA resume that works, and share practical tips for crafting each section of your resume.

Whether you're a new CPA or a seasoned professional, this guide will help you create a resume that effectively showcases your strengths and helps you get noticed by employers. By the end, you'll have all the tools and knowledge you need to build a CPA resume that gets results. Let's get started.

Common Responsibilities Listed on CPA Resumes

  • Preparing and reviewing financial statements and tax returns for individuals, businesses, and organizations
  • Providing auditing services to ensure compliance with laws, regulations, and accounting principles
  • Analyzing financial data and records to identify trends and areas of potential risk or opportunity
  • Advising clients on tax planning strategies and compliance with tax laws
  • Developing and implementing accounting systems and internal controls
  • Conducting financial forecasts and budgets for clients
  • Providing consulting services on mergers, acquisitions, and other financial transactions
  • Ensuring accurate and timely filing of tax returns and reporting requirements
  • Representing clients in tax audits and disputes with regulatory agencies
  • Maintaining up-to-date knowledge of relevant accounting principles, tax laws, and regulations
  • Developing and monitoring internal financial controls and risk management strategies
  • Collaborating with other professionals, such as lawyers and financial advisors, on complex financial matters
  • Providing training and guidance to staff or clients on accounting and tax-related topics
  • Participating in professional development activities to maintain certifications and stay current with industry developments

How to write a Resume Summary

Even though the world has transitioned into an era of cover letters and LinkedIn profiles, the resume remains a fundamental element of any job application. Often, the very first section an employer glances at is the summary or objective. This part should be a captivating snapshot of you as a professional, grabbing the recruiter's attention whilst encapsulating your qualifications, skills, and ambitions. Particularly, for a CPA (Certified Public Accountant), the ability to concisely articulate your accountancy skill set will give your resume a strong advantage in catching a recruiter’s eye.

What is a Summary or Objective?

A resume's summary or objective section presents a concise overview of your abilities and career goals as they directly relate to the job position you're applying for. Instead of an exhaustive list of everything you've accomplished, the resume summary leans into relevance—highlighting the highlights, so to speak. It's also known as a "career objective," "resume objective," "summary statement," "professional summary," or simply "resume summary," alternately.

Elements of a Good Summary/Objective

Primarily, a robust summary or objective section should speak directly to the job description. It should clearly outline your qualifications, emphasizing how they align with the job position. For a CPA, it is essential to integrate your specific professional training, such as financial auditing, statutory compliance, or tax consultancy, in crisp, clear language.

Furthermore, an engaging summary or objective section should showcase your career goals. It should portray your aspirations for growth and learning, expressing how the prospective job role fits into this vision. Ensure to be sincere yet respectful, portraying ambition but not seeming overbearing.

And while it remains important to outline your experience and skills accurately, swerving from complexity can make your summary more readable. Simplified language can help communicate your expertise effectively, illustrating you as adaptive to diverse circumstances.

How to Write

Start by focusing on your experience. Express your career history compellingly, stating positions held or the type of firms you worked with. This is especially important for a CPA because your experience will indicate your level of expertise in the field.

Next, address your accomplishments. While keeping it brief, include remarkable successes significant to the job position. As a CPA, it could be about solving a complex financial puzzle, managing company-wide audits, or implementing an innovative cost-saving strategy.

Importantly, incorporate your sought-after skills. Outline vital soft and hard skills related to the CPA job position you are targeting. It could be your proficiency in accounting software, management skills, or expertise in risk analysis.

Lastly, your career objective ties it all up. It should reflect your career momentum and the direction you want to steer it towards. For a CPA, it can range from wanting to specialize in a particular area or aiming to become a partner at a firm.

Concisely, tailor your summary or objective section to reflect your professional image as a CPA – reliable, detail-oriented, and strategic – painting a picture not only of who you are as a professional but also of the you can contribute.

Strong Summaries

  • Highest performing Certified Public Accountant (CPA) with over 10 years' experience in preparing error-free tax returns, efficiently completing audits, and giving expert financial advice.
  • Detail-orientated CPA with a strong background in auditing, tax, accounts payable/receivable, and regulatory compliance. Proven record of driving operational profitability with strategic financial management.
  • Devoted CPA with a commendable work ethic, skillfully applying advanced financial acumen to improve organizational performance while mitigating risk. Proficient in GAAP standards, budgeting processes, and financial analysis.
  • Innovative financial professional and Certified Public Accountant (CPA) with a remarkable track record in managing multiple auditing projects concurrently, uncovering financial discrepancies, and securing regulatory compliance.
  • Reliable and meticulous CPA with over 5 years of experience in creating and implementing financial systems, strategies, processes, and controls that significantly improve P&L scenarios.

Why these are strong?

These examples are considered good practice because they showcase the candidates' professional titles and experiences. They also highlight their skills and areas of expertise, making the candidates attractive to potential employers. Furthermore, these summaries demonstrate an understanding of not just what the role of a CPA involves (taxes, audits, financial advice), but also show the candidates' soft skills (reliability, attention to detail) which are often of large importance in job roles. The candidates have strategically used the summary to set the tone for the rest of their CV, making them all the more memorable.

Weak Summaries

  • Goal-orientated accountant looking for any job that will accept me. Strengths include basic addition and subtraction.
  • Professional accountant with years of experience but tired of the same old numbers game. Looking for a company that knows how to have fun.
  • I am an accountant with 20 years of work experience. I hate making mistakes and I don't like dealing with clients who can't understand basic accounting principles.
  • Certified Public Accountant seeking job. Abilities include mathematics and using Excel. No time for hobbies or interests because of work.

Why these are weak?

These are examples of bad practices when writing a professional summary section for a CPA resume due to several reasons. The first example is too generic and lacks depth regarding experience and skills. The second is unprofessional and imparts a trivial, non-serious attitude towards the job. The third example although shows experience, the aggressive and intolerant tone can be off-putting to potential employers. The fourth example, while hinting on dedication, fails to strike a balance between professional and personal life which might make the candidate seem one-dimensional. Using this kind of language gives off negative vibes about attitude or personality, which might discourage potential employers from further considering the application.

Showcase your Work Experience

Value of a Work Experience Section on your Resume

In your journey towards professional success, a well-crafted Work Experience section in your resume can act as a lighthouse, guiding potential employers towards a clearer understanding of your skills and achievements. This is especially true if you're a CPA (Certified Public Accountant).

Within this vital portion of your resume lies the ability to project a glimpse of your professional journey. It carries the tales of your past roles, the responsibilities you excelled at, companies you've contributed to, and most notably, the tangible achievements that have marked your career.

Expert Tip

Quantify your achievements and impact using concrete numbers, metrics, and percentages to demonstrate the value you brought to your previous roles.

Guidelines to Writing an Outstanding Work Experience Section

Here are some key aspects to focus on when detailing your past roles:

  1. Chronology and Relevance: List your work experience in reverse chronological order, highlighting your most recent or current position first. Market dynamics evolve, so the recent experience can be perceived as the most relevant. However, ensure to underscore roles pertinent to the CPA field whenever possible.

  2. Fact-based Achievements: Rather than expounding a laundry list of everyday tasks, outline your accomplishments distinctively and in a quantifiable manner if achievable. Mention how you reduced a company's tax liability or increased an organization's profits due to your diligent accounting practices.

  3. Keyword Optimization: Leverage keywords that resonate with the job role for a potential AI-powered scan. For instance, phrases like 'financial reporting', 'auditing', 'tax accounting', 'budget planning' and alike would add an extra edge to your resume.

  4. Role-Specific Responsibilites: Detail out everyday functions that align best with the role you're applying for. This would enable prospective employers to gauge your potential capability to deliver on specific prerequisites of the offered position.

  5. Consistency : Maintain a standard format while outlining each role, ensuring that readability and clarity is facilitated for the reader.

Final Thoughts

A gratifying work experience section can not only mirror your past journey authentically but also serve as a predictor of your future success. It's your silent, personal advocate, outlining your transformation from a novice to a skilled professional.

Rendering your work experience in a refined, straightforward, and engaging manner can result in it being a significant determinant in an employer's eyes. In essence, while your resume is your personal story, the Work Experience section is its most captivating chapter, reflecting your professional evolution and signifying your ability to make a tangible difference.

Adhere to these guidelines and craft your work experience section to establish a bridge between your past successes and future aspirations!

Strong Experiences

  • Managed a diverse portfolio of clients, focusing on tax preparation, financial advisory, and strategic planning
  • Conducted in-depth analysis of financial statements and reports to identify potential discrepancies and areas for improvement
  • Implemented a new financial software system resulting in a 20% increase in efficiency
  • Maintained meticulous records for all accounts, ensuring full compliance with state and federal regulations

Why these are strong?

The above examples are good because they highlight key skills and experience that are important for a CPA. They demonstrate proficiency in areas such as tax preparation, financial planning, and report analysis. In addition, the mention of specific results such as the implementation of a new software system leading to increased efficiency, shows the ability to drive positive changes in the organization. Each bullet point starts with a strong action verb adding impact and they are all quantifiable or proven experiences, which provide a solid proof of the applicant's skills and capabilities.

Weak Experiences

  • Tasks I was responsible for
  • Worked in a team to resolve financial discrepancies
  • Did accounting stuff
  • Handled tax filings
  • Was responsible for auditing times

Why these are weak?

The above examples are considered bad because they lack specificity. Their vagueness fails to convey the specific tasks, skills, or achievements. 'Tasks I was responsible for' doesn't tell anything about what exactly were those tasks. 'Worked in a team to resolve financial discrepancies' is too generic and doesn't mention the specific role you played in the process. 'Did accounting stuff' is extremely informal and offers no clear understanding of your expertise. 'Handled tax filings' remains vague and doesn’t show your proficiency in the area. 'Was responsible for auditing times' miscommunicates the gist of auditing tasks in a CPA role. A bad practice in resume writing, these examples don’t demonstrate your potential value to a prospective employer and reduces your chances of being considered a suitable candidate. Good bullet points in a resume should be specific, clear, formal, and demonstrate your significant contributions and skills.

Skills, Keywords & ATS Tips

Resumes have two main types of skills - hard and soft. For a Certified Public Accountant (CPA), both are crucial. Hard skills refer to the specific abilities required for the job. For CPAs, these could be knowledge of accounting software or understanding financial regulations. Soft skills, meanwhile, are more about who you are as a person. These include skills like communication, teamwork, or problem-solving.

Understanding Hard Skills

Hard skills are the concrete, teachable abilities you learn through education or training. As a CPA, you've already acquired many hard skills. These may involve preparing tax reports, analyzing budgets, or understanding financial laws. Your hard skills prove you have the necessary know-how to do the job.

The Importance of Soft Skills

While hard skills showcase your accounting knowledge, soft skills present your human side. They focus on attributes like ethics, communication, and teamwork. Soft skills are harder to measure than hard ones. Yet, they're equally important. Employers need CPAs who can engage with clients, work well in teams, and solve problems.

Keywords, ATS, and Matching Skills

When you apply for jobs online, your resume often goes through an Applicant Tracking System (ATS) before a person sees it. The ATS scans your resume for keywords related to the job. If it finds enough matches, it ranks your resume as a good fit.

This is why it's crucial to tailor your skills section to each job you apply for. Look at the job ad and find the hard and soft skills they're seeking. Then, make sure those skills appear in your resume. These will become the keywords that the ATS looks for.

In conclusion, crafting a skills section on a CPA resume involves listing your hard and soft skills. Plus, it requires tailoring these skills to match the job ad. This can help your resume pass through the ATS and onto the hiring manager's desk.

Top Hard & Soft Skills for Full Stack Developers

Hard Skills

  • Financial Reporting
  • Tax Preparation
  • Auditing
  • Budgeting
  • Financial Analysis
  • Accounting Software Proficiency
  • GAAP Knowledge
  • Internal Controls
  • Forensic Accounting
  • Cost Accounting
  • Risk Management
  • Financial Modeling
  • Sarbanes-Oxley Compliance
  • IFRS Standards
  • Cash Flow Management
  • Soft Skills

  • Attention to Detail
  • Analytical Thinking
  • Problem-Solving
  • Communication Skills
  • Time Management
  • Ethical Judgment
  • Adaptability
  • Teamwork
  • Critical Thinking
  • Organizational Skills
  • Stress Management
  • Client Relationship Management
  • Leadership
  • Integrity
  • Professionalism
  • Top Action Verbs

    Use action verbs to highlight achievements and responsibilities on your resume.

  • Analyzed
  • Prepared
  • Reviewed
  • Managed
  • Audited
  • Implemented
  • Advised
  • Collaborated
  • Communicated
  • Resolved
  • Monitored
  • Evaluated
  • Presented
  • Interpreted
  • Complied
  • Forecasted
  • Documented
  • Negotiated
  • Facilitated
  • Ensured
  • Developed
  • Recommended
  • Assessed
  • Conducted
  • Maintained
  • Verified
  • Supervised
  • Identified
  • Supported
  • Optimized
  • Solved
  • Innovated
  • Educated
  • Coordinated
  • Implemented
  • Managed
  • Organized
  • Prioritized
  • Education

    To add your education and certificates to your resume, create a section titled "Education" and list your degrees chronologically, with the most recent at the top. Mention the institution, location, degree held, and years of attendance. For certificates like your CPA, create a "Certifications" section. Include the certificate name, the awarding body, and the date obtained. Remember to keep the format consistent to ensure readability and to highlight your qualifications effectively.

    Resume FAQs for CPAs


    What is the ideal resume format for a CPA?


    The most recommended resume format for CPAs is the reverse-chronological format. This format highlights your work experience and professional achievements in a clear and organized manner, which is essential for accounting and finance roles.


    How long should a CPA resume be?


    A CPA resume should typically be one page in length for candidates with less than 10 years of experience, and no more than two pages for those with extensive experience. Concise and focused resumes are preferred in the accounting and finance industries.


    What sections should be included in a CPA resume?


    A well-structured CPA resume should include the following sections: Summary or Objective, Professional Experience, Licenses and Certifications, Skills, and Education. Additional sections like Professional Affiliations or Continuing Professional Education (CPE) can be added if relevant.


    How can I highlight my CPA license on my resume?


    Your CPA license should be prominently displayed on your resume, either in the header, summary section, or under a dedicated 'Licenses and Certifications' section. Be sure to include the state in which you are licensed, as well as any other relevant certifications or credentials.

    CPA Resume Example

    A Certified Public Accountant (CPA) provides accounting services like financial reporting, tax preparation, and auditing. To craft an effective CPA resume: - Highlight your accounting degree and CPA license - Detail experience with tax software, financial analysis, audits - Showcase skills like attention to detail, problem-solving, communication - Quantify achievements through metrics like tax savings, audit findings Presenting your qualifications clearly and backing claims with concrete examples will make your CPA resume stand out.

    Kathryn Hamilton
    (900) 360-5587

    Highly motivated and detail-oriented CPA with a proven track record of delivering accurate and timely financial reporting, tax compliance, and advisory services to clients across various industries. Adept at analyzing complex financial data, identifying opportunities for process improvement, and collaborating with cross-functional teams to drive business growth and profitability.

    Work Experience
    Senior CPA
    01/2019 - Present
    • Led financial audits for clients with annual revenues exceeding $500 million, ensuring compliance with GAAP and regulatory requirements.
    • Developed and implemented tax planning strategies that resulted in an average tax savings of 15% for high net worth individuals and businesses.
    • Managed a team of 5 junior accountants, providing mentorship and guidance to enhance their technical skills and professional development.
    • Conducted financial due diligence for M&A transactions, identifying potential risks and opportunities and providing recommendations to senior management.
    • Presented findings and recommendations to executive leadership and audit committees, effectively communicating complex financial concepts to non-financial stakeholders.
    08/2016 - 12/2018
    • Conducted financial statement audits for public and private companies in the manufacturing and distribution industries.
    • Prepared and reviewed corporate and individual tax returns, ensuring accuracy and compliance with federal and state tax laws.
    • Assisted in the development and implementation of internal control frameworks for clients, enhancing financial reporting reliability and reducing risk.
    • Collaborated with cross-functional teams to provide advisory services, including financial forecasting, budgeting, and cash flow management.
    • Consistently met or exceeded client expectations, resulting in a 95% client retention rate and positive feedback from engagement surveys.
    Staff Accountant
    06/2014 - 07/2016
    • Assisted in the preparation and review of financial statements, including balance sheets, income statements, and cash flow statements.
    • Performed substantive testing procedures, including vouching, tracing, and analytical procedures, to validate financial transactions and balances.
    • Prepared and maintained audit workpapers, ensuring compliance with firm and professional standards.
    • Participated in the development and delivery of training sessions for new hires, sharing best practices and promoting a culture of continuous learning.
    • Received recognition for exceptional performance and dedication, including the "Rising Star" award and multiple peer-nominated accolades.
  • Financial Reporting
  • Tax Compliance
  • Auditing
  • Financial Analysis
  • Internal Controls
  • GAAP
  • IFRS
  • Sarbanes-Oxley Compliance
  • Financial Forecasting
  • Budgeting
  • Cash Flow Management
  • Data Analytics
  • Risk Assessment
  • Project Management
  • Leadership
  • Communication
  • Problem-Solving
  • Education
    Master of Science in Accounting
    08/2012 - 05/2014
    University of Texas at Austin, Austin, TX
    Bachelor of Business Administration in Accounting
    08/2008 - 05/2012
    University of Texas at Austin, Austin, TX