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How to stand out as a CPA while applying for jobs

Published: Monday 1st March 2021

The CPA designation is the industry standard accounting certification and what you need if you want to practice accounting in the UK (as well as many places in the English-speaking world). Accountants are in high demand and command good starting salaries with a lot of potential for growth, learning and career advancement across industries. But those jobs aren’t just going to fall into your lap. Below are some of the things you need to do if you want to stand out as a CPA while applying for jobs.

Solid and varied CPE

Getting your CPA is one thing, maintaining it and keeping in good stead with the Certified Public Accountants Association requires some effort every year through what is called CPE, Continuing Professional Education Credits.

CPE credits ensure that accountants stay plugged-in to the industry and are aware of any regulatory and compliance changes. They also make sure that you are always adding new skills and competencies to your arsenal as a CPA. There are courses and educational opportunities in economics, business law, management services, IT and a broad range of other disciplines that not only make you a more complete and up-to-date professional but add a lot of depth to your resume.

happy businesswoman with foxy hair, smiles positively, records information in notepad, drinks coffee, searches information on laptop computer

Use data analysis skills to stand out as a CPA

Modern accounting is about much more than crunching numbers and compiling or auditing financial statements. The big data transformation has made some important changes to the profession and the way CPAs do their jobs. Accountants should be able to analyse and synthesise the financial data they work with into actionable advice and demonstrable trends. These can help to form and make strategic business decisions. So, use data analysis skills to stand out as a CPA. 

Data analysis skills include advanced capabilities with programs like Microsoft Excel, as well as specific data analysis and management certifications and designations. There are both free and paid data analysis courses online that CPAs can take to add a new component to their CVs when applying for jobs.

Written communication ability

Written communication skills have always been valuable in every position and role, but the pandemic, having changed the nature of work for the near and mid-term, and perhaps indefinitely, with remote work arrangements the norm, has placed new demands on our written communication. One of the main pitfalls of remote work is that face-to-face interactions are now happening through virtual meeting software, which means most communication now happens via messenger applications like Slack and others.

For this reason, writing ability is one of the top skills workers need in the remote era. Accountants may sometimes receive criticism for their focus on numbers and inability to communicate with other departments. At least before the pandemic, there was always the opportunity for a meeting or sit-down to go over accounting-related issues and information with other departments. Now the majority of such issues and conversations must be hashed out via text. Improve your written English by reading, writing and using vocabulary and language apps to stand out.

Young businessman wearing a shirt and tie sitting at his desk in an office working online with a laptop

Prepare an accounting portfolio to stand out as a CPA

Finding jobs in a competitive global market can be difficult regardless of your education and experience. For people in creative industries, one of the main ways they demonstrate their value and experience is through their portfolios. If you are going to hire a graphic designer, photographer, video editor or anyone else in a visual medium, you want to see what their past work looks like.

Accountants can put similar portfolios of work together that serve the same function for employers and show what you have done and what you are capable of. In your portfolio, you could include projects you have worked on and received high marks for or it could include things like Annual General Statements. You could also demonstrate your analytical abilities by taking public financial statements or information and providing breakdowns, or even potential corrections to things that other accountants may have missed.

Conclusion

The CPA is the gold standard in accounting. Seeing that a candidate has these three letters on their resume will instantly engender confidence and interest from employers looking to hire an accounting professional. But to go above and beyond and make a good impression entails much more than that. Keep the above considerations and tips in mind when applying for an accounting position and stand out as a CPA while applying for jobs among the competition.

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