Calling All Accounting Graduates: Help Yourself Succeed!

Taking control of your accounting career progression by developing a plan means you’re actively involved rather than sitting back and reacting to what comes to you. In other words, you can’t just hope everything falls into place, you have to plan and be ready for everything.

This can be started in the following general ways at first. Write down information to:

Assess Yourself

Find out what motivates you and highlight your areas of strength and weakness in regard to your future accounting career. Is there a specific accounting job that allows you to use your strengths while building on your weaker points?

Explore the Possibilities

Research areas of accounting by reading online, talking with current CPAs and those in other accountancy roles. Develop contacts and ask questions. The more information you get, the smoother your path. If possible, volunteer or seek internship opportunities to find out more about the work involved in certain accounting jobs.

Develop Goals – Use all the information gathered about career options for accountants and your self assessment report to come up with goals to guide your career. Accounting career planning depends on well-defined goals. The goals are designed to track progress and note what still needs to be done. If you go off track, you can include changes needed to get moving straight ahead again.

New Skills

Part of setting goals is knowing what skills – and certificates and training – you’ll need. These fall into three broad categories:

  • Developing Technical Skills – Professionals in accounting value technical proficiency, meaning that to rise up the ranks in any organization you will require extra technical skills. From financial reporting to project management, technical skills allow you to become an expert in your chosen field of accountancy and assist colleagues when needed.
  • Improving Communication Skills – Handling a management job requires regular communication with colleagues, junior staff as well as clients. To ensure that you have everyone working as a team you will need to communicate well, through writing or speaking.
  • Building Sales Skills – Even as you work for different companies aim to develop relationships with clients and potential ones as well. These relationships can be harnessed when in need of information about the services being offered or converting potentials to actual clients.

Get Started

Eventually any plan has to start otherwise it’s just theory. Pick a date or an event – graduation for instance. Begin to implement your plan and always move forward but be flexible for change as you learn more.

The steps may be slow for accounting graduates at first and you may have to make adjustments along the way as you learn more. Your career plan does not have to encompass your entire working career in accounting – use 5 or 10 year plans and build them out as you get closer.

Planning Equals Accounting Career Progression Efficiency

Having a plan means you don’t have to second-guess every step you take to advance. Executing your goals is the best way to climb up the career ladder, otherwise it’s just an empty plan. You’ve likely previously heard about the idea of developing a personal career plan, and yes it does take some work. But if you don’t make the effort, you’ll only be frustrated by the slow pace of your career advancement.

Do you think a Master’s degree would be right for you? Check out our Master of Accountancy program.

Count on a Great Accounting Resume!

Professional Accounting Resume Tips

Your resume has to stand out in a pile of papers. Once it is noticed, it also has to demonstrate you know the accounting industry.

An effective resume delivers the information employers need up front and then provides something memorable or different.

A professional accounting resume is no different, with your skills presented front and center. Using accounting lingo naturally throughout also shows you’re familiar and comfortable with the everyday language you will need. 

The basic role of a resume is to demonstrate to an employer that you can handle required tasks using acquired skills supported by proper educational qualifications. What people often forget to do is shape their resume to the job description presented to them.

Career Objective Related to the Accounting Position

As an accounting job candidate, you should talk about the company in your objective, making it as specific as possible and linking back to your skills. Use short-term goals first, rather than long-term, generic goals. “To be employed at a company I respect at a job I love” doesn’t cut it anymore, if it ever did.

Keep this objective short, just one or two sentences.

What Accounting Companies Look for in a Hire

Those who hire for accountancy positions do not want generic resumes that could be sent to any employer out there. Start with that idea as you build your resume.

Employers want to know your skills, clear examples of work ethic and effort and, finally, some hint of your personality. A professional resume for an accountant provides this in clear sections with bulleted lists, not a narrative. Your story comes in your cover letter, which should be equally focused without rambling.

List Accounting Skills, Competencies, and Credentials

A resume needs to persuade with facts, not speculation. If you don’t have the skills the company is requesting, you probably shouldn’t be applying. To make your resume stand out, add a quick narrative sentence at the top of this section, saying, “As well as possessing the skills you have noted as requirements, other skills make me a more compelling prospect.”

Then list your applicable degrees, certifications, and other education. People often separate these, into education and skills, but there’s really no need – they all speak directly to your ability to do the job.

A master’s degree gets noticed quickly in a professional accountant resume, especially if you’ve been able to complete it in a shorter amount of time than is usual. Being a CPA or noting you’re currently pursuing a CPA or other similar, major qualification is important, too. It shows you know what is expected and that you are developing professionally even while seeking employment.

A truly well-crafted resume will cite examples of how a degree or qualification helped solve a real-life problem at work.

A familiarity with laws and legalities can be hard to get across on a resume but it’s a skill employers do look for and notice. If you’ve taken special courses or classes in these areas, note them. If you haven’t, look to learn this critical information, as well.

Any awards or special distinctions come at the end of the resume. There, those related to accounting come first. Then follow those only with those relevant to the position to which you are applying.

Essential Accounting Software Skills

Finding out ahead of time the software a company uses is a good step. That way, if you’re familiar with you can put it at the top. If you’re not, you can research it and learn it.

Finding out can be as simple as calling up and saying you’re applying for a job and wanted to know the main software the company uses.

If you have special skills in software programs used in accounting that go beyond the usual QuickBooks or Microsoft Excel, mention that, too. Many accountancy programs apply to specific industries, such as banking, warehouse management, or healthcare. Broadening your technical expertise to include some of these industry-specific packages is extremely useful.

Familiarity with Quickbooks, Sage50, Xero, Turbo Tax, or even something basic such as the Wave Accounting app for small business, goes a long way to increasing your attractiveness to a broad range of employers, as well.

Accountancy Employment History

Be as detailed as possible by bullet pointing responsibilities and accomplishments achieved in various job positions. When information is specific such as “managed databases for multiple company offices” or “reduced credit repayment to under 90 days for 80% of clients”, it demonstrates the changes you are likely to bring to the new job.

The most common way to present this past information is chronological, but it’s not necessary. Add only those positions where you did work relevant to the current position. Write a sentence at the top, telling your prospective employer that you’re doing this, so they don’t have to speculate why they see strange gaps in your employment.

This way of presenting your employment history is something different and therefore memorable, without being in any way confusing.

Final Impression

In your closing paragraph, explain why this role is important to you and what you do to keep your interest level high and your knowledge growing. Character traits you want to get across are that you’re organized, manage your time well, welcome change, and communicate effectively.

Broadcast Your Accounting Career Resume

Finally, with this great resume in hand, it needs to be seen.

The big firms are a great place to start, but don’t forget to post your resume on city or regional job boards. Finance and accounting organizations also post job listings, such as this one at the American Institute of CPAs. They also allow you to build career profiles, asking the questions they know employers want to know. Because accounting recruiters know the jobs and can organize them well, these type of sites are great places to have your resume seen.

Interviewing can be an intimidating task. Having a strong resume behind you will not only impress your prospective employer but, will give you confidence throughout your interview. If you have never built a resume before, use the above as an outline or give your existing one a refresh.

To learn more about the Master of Accountancy program at The University of Scranton, click here.

Accounting Standards Every Accountant Should Know

Without a common set of accounting standards, businesses would be on their own to show that they are reporting revenue and costs or losses correctly to investors or shareholders. These standards, known as generally accepted accounting principles (GAAP), provide certain guidelines that accountants must follow to avoid auditing or penalty from government entities. Students seeking a Master of Accountancy degree learn about these principles and how best to apply them to the businesses they will serve in the future. There several common principles that students need to understand.

What is GAAP?

GAAP is not a required practice for all businesses. However, any accountant who works for a publicly-traded company must follow GAAP accounting standards for all financial statements. While GAAP is not a government institution, it is regulated by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). There are 12 basic types of principles, in three different categories:

  • Assumptions
  • Principles
  • Constraints

These rules come from pronouncements made by the Financial Accounting Standards Board (FASB). There are over 100 pronouncements since the establishment of GAAP in 1973. While any publicly-held business with dealings in the U.S. must adhere to these standards, any businesses with dealings in other counties must also follow international accounting standards, as well as any other regulation specific to the region.


Within GAAP there are a certain number of assumptions that an accountant or auditor can or should make with regard to the business. For example, the business entity principle assumes that the business and its functions are separate from other businesses and the owner. Under this principle, accountants should establish whether the business entity definition is:

  • a corporation
  • a partnership
  • run by a sole proprietor

Similarly, the Going Concern Principle makes a fundamental assumption about the near future of the business. Under this principle, the accountant operates as if the business will continue to survive for the foreseeable future. This means that the assets will be assessed at cost, not at liquidation values, and that revenues will be reported as normal. Of course, if evidence indicates that the business may not survive to the next year, the reporting standards change.


The section of principles under GAAP standards regulates the way businesses report their revenue, expenses, and how accountants must document this information. Revenue recognition and the Matching Principle are two important guides for businesses to keep their revenue in line. Simply put, recognizing revenue means to create a report of the business’s income. This typically relates to a product or service that that the company provides, indicating a contract for service or the sale of a product. The fundamental idea behind revenue recognition is accrual accounting, that revenue may be recorded independent of when the business actually receives payment, in the event that the two are not closely related. The Matching Principle deals with the timing in which expenses tied to that revenue are recorded. Unlike revenue, which is recorded when it is received, expenses are only recorded when they make a contribution to revenue. Whenever possible, accountants should match expenses to related revenue in the same period.


There are many constraints under which companies are bound to limit the types of information they use to create reports. The Materiality Principle governs the ability for businesses to override certain standards in the reporting of immaterial items. For example, businesses should typically depreciate assets that last for several years. However, if the item is of very little value, the accountant may choose to simply expense the cost of the item instead of depreciating it. The SEC strongly suggests that accountants not make this a general practice, however, since misstatements may affect the reported earnings of the company. The Conservatism Principle calls for accountants to select the right form of accounting standards, if more than one is available. Specifically, businesses must choose the form of reporting that has the least-favorable immediate impact. The reporting style has the ability to significantly increase or decrease a business’s or even a government entity’s reported income and liabilities.

Exceptions to GAAP

There are many exceptions to following generally accepted accounting principles, primarily concerned with other reporting entities. For example, some industries have specific reporting standards that are generally accepted but fall outside GAAP guidelines. Local and state governments fall under the Government Accounting Standards Board (GASB), not the FASB. Plus, any business with financial interactions in other countries may be subject to International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS). This organization oversees the International Accounting Standards Board, which sets guidelines for international companies. In general, students seeking a master’s degree in accountancy should research the types of regulation based on the region and industry where they intend to serve businesses.

Companies benefit from their accountants following generally accepted accounting principles as a means to make their financial information clear to shareholders and prospective investors. People who plan to work as accountants should consider a Master of Accountancy program that provides detailed instruction in the principles and methods of accounting, following GAAP and all international accounting standards. To learn about the online Master of Accountancy program at The University of Scranton, visit our website or request more information.


To learn more about the Master of Accountancy program at The University of Scranton, click here.