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Accounting Skills to List on Your Resume

Nov 20, 2020

If you’re working toward a degree in accounting, the next thing on your mind should be preparing your accounting resume for a job in the field. One of the most important areas of your accounting resume is the skills section. Highlighting your qualifications makes it much faster for employers to see if you have the skills required for the position. 

Because many of today’s hiring managers use automated applicant tracking systems to scan candidate resumes for keywords, you can also leverage the skills in your resume to stand out in online searches. But before we dive into what accounting skills list to put on your resume, let’s first define the different categories of accounting jobs. 

What Types of Accountants are There?

There are three main types of accountants; tax accountants, auditors, and industry accountants. Each of these different types of accounting careers has very different job responsibilities and different skills that are needed to succeed. 

Here’s a breakdown: 

Tax accountants are just what it sounds like—accountants who prepare and file taxes. They specialize in the laws, rules, and regulations for the preparation and calculation of federal, state, and local taxes. Some of the skills needed to be a tax accountant include:

  • Knowledge of accounting and bookkeeping procedures
  • Familiarity with accounting software packages
  • Computer literacy (MS Excel in particular)

Audit accountants perform audits on companies, internally or externally, to ensure that proper financial and accounting practices are being performed and that the financial statements of an organization are correct. Some of the skills needed to be an audit accountant include:

  • Risk and compliance expertise 
  • IT savvy
  • Spreadsheet proficiency 

Industry accountants work in public or private sectors for individual companies handling their overall finances and budgets. Some of the skills needed to be an industry accountant include:

  • Solid communication  
  • Business knowledge
  • Budget management

What are Hard Skills vs. Soft Skills?

There is a distinct difference between hard skills and soft skills in the workforce. Hard skills are the specific tasks and abilities you need to be able to do to perform your job functions and perform them well. These translate to the tasks you’ll need to be able to do day in and day out. Hard skills for accountants could include specific software knowledge or expertise in areas of law or business. 

On the other hand, soft skills are those you might not learn in your courses, but they’re just as important in helping you succeed in your role. A list of soft skills might include qualities like being an: excellent communicator, detail oriented, a problem solver, or a multitasker. 

What Hard Skills are Important in Accounting?

When it comes to accounting, most of the hard skills you need to know come from earning a bachelor’s or master’s degree. Organizations will often require them. For basic bookkeeper positions you can likely get by without higher education, but for accounting and business positions the additional knowledge you get from a degree is vital to your success. 

Performing accounts payable and receivable functions. This is an industry accounting function that boils down to writing checks and managing the budgets for your vendors. It means working with department heads to understand what the vendors do, establishing budgets with departments, and working directly with the vendors to send them their checks when they submit invoices. Having skill in accounts payable and receivable is extremely relevant for those in industry accounting and is great to list on your resume. 

Managing vendor accounts. Accounting departments in industry accounting are often responsible for managing all the vendor accounts they must pay. This means loading them into whatever software system you use, making sure they’ve delivered their goods or services, and more. On your resume, it’s smart to indicate direct experience working with vendor contracts, tax documentation, and invoices. All of these elements are used by accounting departments every day—especially in industry accounting.

Forecasting budgets. Some people in industry accounting are responsible for working on budgets with departments and executives. They will help analyze the previous year and forecast how budgets will need to be handled the next year. They are responsible for helping distribute money to different departments, doing reimbursements when needed, and ensuring that everything is done with proper documentation and correct financial practices. You can use your resume to demonstrate that you have experience making budgets and understand the financial practices to keep a budget on track.

Handling payroll. Everyone loves to get paid, and those in industry accounting are the ones to thank. Accountants are in charge of making sure that everyone in your organization gets paid, from helping to set budgets to signing the actual checks. They are responsible for the deadlines and working with direct deposits, bonuses, and more. Listing on your accounting resume that you have payroll experience is sure to go a long way when applying for industry accounting jobs. 

Working with bankers, insurers, and solicitors. All the different kinds of accountants work with bankers, insurers, and solicitors as part of their job. It’s the job of accountants to get information and work with these other professionals to understand how an organization’s finances work. They communicate with these other professionals to get answers to questions, manage the organization’s accounts, protect assets, and keep an eye on the overall financial situation of their organization. Listing on your accounting resume that you have worked with these kinds of professionals demonstrates that you’re prepared to handle whatever a new employer can throw at you.

Understanding financial reporting (GAAP). Audit accountants utilize GAAP or Generally Accepted Accounting Principles as they run their audits on companies. Internal auditors run audits on their own organization’s finances, while external auditors run audits on other organizations’ finances. Accountants need to have an understanding of financial reporting in order to read a company’s financial statements and ensure that everything is being done legally and correctly. Organizations that aren’t running their finances correctly according to these standards could be committing fraud, so it’s vital for accountants in industry and audit accounting to understand what the proper procedures are.

Tax understanding. Tax accountants need to have an understanding of how the tax code works, and how it applies to individuals and businesses. They also need to know how to stay up to date on changes to tax codes and understand how these changes impact individuals and businesses. If you’re hoping to be a tax accountant, it’s smart to list the kinds of taxes you’ve done on your accounting resume so you can demonstrate your understanding of tax laws and codes to potential employers or clients.

What Soft Skills are Important in Accounting?

Soft skills are the more general skills you need in any kind of job. While they’re not directly tied to accounting, they are vital for success in the accounting industry as well as in most other professions. These soft skills are the basic skills everyone needs to communicate, interact, and perform well inside their job functions. Accountants are no exception; they need soft skills to be successful in their unique jobs and organizations. 

Written and verbal communication skills. Accountants need to be able to communicate well within their teams and with the various other departments or organizations that they work with on a regular basis. This can include connecting with audit clients, tax clients, executives and managers in their organizations, vendors, and more. Accountants need to be able to articulate themselves well as they explain what they need from clients or coworkers, communicate news to vendors and clients, and work with everyone in their organization on financial matters. Listing your communication skills on your accounting resume will help demonstrate to employers that you understand how you’ll need to work with others as an accountant.

Customer service. Accountants are in the middle of customer service as they deal with clients and vendors. They need to understand how to interact with customers and clients in a polite, professional way. Good customer service will keep clients coming and will show vendors and contractors that yours is a professional organization. If you can list customer service experience and skills on your accounting resume, it’s sure to go a long way to help you land your dream accounting job.

Business knowledge. The fundamentals of business, from finances to marketing, strategy, and law, are all vital for your career success. You need to be able to demonstrate business prowess so you can work in any industry or organization, big or small. Listing the courses you’ve taken in business and the experience you’ve had working in business can demonstrate to potential employers that you have the fundamental knowledge you need to be successful. Accountants need a general business knowledge to be able to work well within any organization and be prepared with best practices for their company.

Critical thinking. Critical thinking is vital for anyone in the workforce. You need to be able to think for yourself, analyze situations, and look at all the angles before you make a decision. This is all part of critical thinking. Employers will appreciate seeing this on your resume because it will demonstrate to them that you’re aware of the vital elements of success in the workplace and that you know how to think in a way that lets you contribute. Accountants need critical thinking as they work to solve problems every day. 

Leadership. You don’t have to be a manager to demonstrate leadership. Every organization needs employees who demonstrate leadership, and putting leadership abilities on your resume is sure to impress potential employers. Be prepared to give examples of how you’ve been a leader and how it’s helped you be more prepared. Accountants need leadership abilities as they work with clients, move to management, and contribute in a professional way to their organization. 

What Technological Skills Do Accountants Need?

Beyond the hard and soft skills that accountants need, there are technical elements and accomplishments that are required for accountants to be successful. There are specific software systems that most accountants have to use at one time or another, and knowledge in these areas is key to landing a job. Listing these on your resume will help you demonstrate that you’re prepared for job responsibilities. 

Microsoft Excel. Most of an accountant’s work will be done in spreadsheets, which are created in Excel. Most accountants will have hundreds of Excel spreadsheets that keep all their work. Accountants need to have more than a basic knowledge of Excel; they need to be able to use functions and formulas, creating detailed spreadsheets that look great, and are easy to understand and read. Listing that you are fluent in Excel on your resume will help potential employers see that you’re prepared for the demands of an accounting job. 

Data analysis software. Many organizations utilize data analytic software to help look at their budget and finances. Accountants need to understand how to use these kinds of software systems in order to succeed. Listing data analysis software on your resume will show to potential employers that you’re prepared to handle the different software systems they utilize. 

Quickbooks. Quickbooks is a common payroll and accounting software that most accountants use. It helps small and medium businesses with payroll functions, invoicing, vendors, and more. Putting Quickbooks on your resume will demonstrate to all potential employers that you know the very basic, vital software involved with accounting. This is particularly important for industry accountants who are working on billing and payments in their organization. 

CRM systems. Vendors and clients are often housed in CRM systems and accountants need to be able to work within these systems to handle payments and billing. CRM systems are also used to house customers and budget information. Accountants who list CRM system experience on their resume are demonstrating to employers that they are prepared to work with the various software systems that may be involved in their day-to-day responsibilities. 

Messaging and video conferencing. Nearly every organization utilizes team messaging and conferencing to talk to clients and other workers around the world. Being technologically proficient enough to be part of messaging systems and calls is vital for an ever-growing, technological workforce. Showing your ability to work within these kinds of technologies shows potential employers you’re prepared to work with coworkers and clients anywhere, anytime. 

Once you’re on the path to get your accounting degree, it’s vital to know how to prepare your resume to land a job once you graduate. These hard and soft skills are vital to helping you find success in your dream accounting job.

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