How to build an effective bookkeeper resume?

If you're working on a bookkeeper resume, remember your real-world experience and promote your grasp of facts and figures. Become a priority candidate with these fantastic tips.

Bookkeeping is a specialized skill that is always in huge demand. However, that doesn't necessarily mean that all you need is a qualification and a hastily typed-up resume to walk into the job of your dreams. There are dozens and sometimes even hundreds of people doing precisely that every day. No, what you need is the best possible bookkeeping resume so that when someone's in dire need of an individual to help them get everything in order, it's your resume that jumps to the top of the pile.

Did you know that no matter how long you've been a bookkeeper and what you've achieved, it's possible to make every part stand out? It's all about grabbing attention, after all. The hiring manager knows you're a Certified Public Bookkeeper or the equivalent. So's everyone else.

However, they're not just on the lookout for someone that can crunch the numbers and bring some much-needed organization to their hectic schedules. They want someone they can rely on and enjoy working with for many years to come. It's hard to demonstrate your natural charisma and that you're a perfect fit on a single sheet, but it's not impossible – especially if you use these fantastic bookkeeper resume tips.

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1. Make your bookkeeper resume summary stand out

The first page of a novel can be the difference between a sale and it being put back on the shelf to collect dust. The same is true of resumes. If you've landed in the middle of the pile, the employer might already have gone bullet point blind. It's your job to hook them, and nowhere is that more important than in your opening statement.

So how do you hook them? You give them the facts and figures that make them want you.

Most people will include a summary at the top of their resume. However, far too many of them will write an underperforming professional summary.

Incorrect bookkeeper resume summary example

Qualified bookkeeper with four years of experience. Proficient in payroll and industry-standard accounting platforms. Comfortable with Microsoft Office.

All the hiring manager has learned here is that they are indeed a bookkeeper. While it's a prerequisite for applying to bookkeeping roles, do they need to take up valuable real estate at the top of their CV to reinforce that they are indeed interested in the position for which they've applied?

'Bookkeeper applies for bookkeeping job' isn't enough of a reason to stop the presses. 'Bookkeeper that pays for themselves multiple times over' is. Even if you can't quite do that, you can still provide a hook in your summary with some real-world examples.

Corrected bookkeeper resume summary example

Fully-certified, results-orientated bookkeeper with four years' experience eagerly seeking a new role with [company name]. Previous experience with Acme Manufacturing, installing new accounting software to cut costs by 45% and labor by 55%.

This statement does nothing to prove you can count. That's taken on trust. It makes the reader want to find out more because they advertised for a bookkeeper. However, they stand to gain so much more, and they've got evidence to prove it.

Even if you're new to the industry, any experience is generally good experience, and you should take time to consider your achievements and present them in a way that serves as the perfect entry point into the rest of your resume.

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2. Keep the facts and figures coming in your bookkeeper work experience section

You can't do anything about the fact that most employers look to the past to inform the future. What you can do is tell them more about what you achieved in each previous role. Whether you have one or a hundred previous jobs, keep the momentum going with real, quantifiable achievements.

You're a bookkeeper. You're great with numbers. But, when it comes to your resume, show, don't tell.

Whatever you do, don't waste four bullet points to effectively say you did the job you were paid to do.

Incorrect bookkeeper work experience section example

  • Performed general bookkeeping tasks
  • Contributed to payroll management
  • Handled collections and accounts
  • Monitored paycheck delivery

That's four valuable lines to confirm that, once again, you are indeed a bookkeeper. But, of course, it's challenging to get yourself excited with those kinds of achievements, let alone someone looking to hire you. Instead, crunch those numbers some more.

Corrected bookkeeper work experience section example

  • Provided full-service bookkeeping facilities, spanning payroll, collections, and accounts
  • Oversaw deployment of new accounting platform, reducing costs by 45% and time spent by 55%
  • Worked with senior management on creation and management of new bonus system, increasing employee retention by 250%

The person behind the first bookkeeper resume might well have achieved all this. However, you've said everything they have in a single line, then demonstrated how you're not just a bookkeeper but a vital team member. Even if a hiring manager spends just a few seconds scanning a resume, that 250% figure alone will cause them to stop and pay attention.

3. Craft a compelling bookkeeper skills section

Whether you're recently qualified, or you've been on the daily grind for years, it can be easy to lose sight of the basics. You have to remember that while you're an outstanding, exemplary employee that can benefit a business in all sorts of ways, they still need a bookkeeper, and that's you.

Your qualifications will go a long way towards verifying your abilities, but prioritize the skills you know matter.

Hard skills for your bookkeeper resume

  • The accounting software you're comfortable with
  • Accounts payable and receivable
  • Payroll
  • Billing
  • Tax

Hiring managers become more confident when prospective employees acknowledge what's expected of them.

Once you're clear that you are, in fact, a bookkeeper, you can then go on to discuss soft skills that matter to you and, more importantly, to them.

Effective soft skills for your bookkeeper CV

  • Communication skills
  • Critical thinking
  • Self-motivation
  • Dependability and trustworthiness

As they say, there's no point buying a dog and barking yourself, and most employers don't want to micromanage the finance department. Indeed, as long as they're in the black, many want to stay as far away from the accounts as possible.

Demonstrate you're a self-starter and their finances are in capable hands. Oh, and if you haven't noticed yet, use numbers and real-world experience to back up your points!

4. Effectively include your bookkeeper certifications

There's one final consideration for a bookkeeper resume. We've operated on the basis so far that you have something to prove you're a bookkeeper. Either that or the employer assumes you wouldn't apply for the role if you weren't.

However, unlike many financial professions, you don't need a qualification. There are successful bookkeepers out there at multinational organizations that haven't set foot in a classroom since high school.

This is one of the few financial disciplines where experience can trump credentials.

If you want to stand out in the resume pile, you'll need one or the other. So focus on whichever casts you in the best light and, if you're lacking one or the other, play dumb.

Bookkeeper certifications section example

  • NACPB Certified Bookkeeper
  • AIPB Certified Bookkeeper
  • Software-specific certification

Mention it if you've got it. With the first two, you can even put letters after your name. However, if you're angling for the job based on prior work experience, prioritize that experience on your resume and only focus on credentials if you have ones that will impact the hiring process.

Need more advice on how to nail the education section of your bookkeeper resume? Head straight to: How to Put Your Education on a Resume.


Published on Jan. 19, 2022

Martin is a resume expert and career advice writer at Kickresume. In his five years at Kickresume, he has written nearly 100 in-depth, painstakingly researched resume advice articles and, as chief editor, he has also edited and revised every single article on this website. Tens of thousands of job seekers read Martin’s resume advice every month. He holds a degree in English from the University of St Andrews and a degree in Comparative Literature from the University of Amsterdam.

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