CMA Resume Tips for Candidates at Any Stage of Certification

You are deep in preparations for the CMA exam and pouring every waking hour into earning your certification. At the same time, you want to start advertising your upcoming success and landing your dream job. This means it’s time to buff up your CMA resume.

You may be wondering how to sell yourself on a CMA candidate resume, if you’re still working on passing the exam.

I’ve got a few tried and true tips to help advertise your upcoming certification so you can start applying for accounting jobs worthy of your ambition.

Originally published in 2018, this article was updated and republished on Dec. 21, 2021.

Optimizing Your CMA Resume as a Candidate

Image - Optimizing Your CMA Resume as a Candidate

Since one of the CMA requirements is an applicable bachelor’s degree, you are already well on your way to landing an accounting job.

Recruiters are going to be especially thrilled when they read you are earning your Certified Management Accountant certification from the IMA.

Selling yourself on a CMA candidate resume however, requires a little finessing in terms of phrasing and placement.

First and foremost, you must make it clear that you are a candidate, and do not hold the actual certification (yet!).

Resume Sections: Where to List CMA Candidacy

Image - Resume Sections: Where to List CMA Candidacy

If you have any other finance or accounting-related certifications, create a section called “Certifications.” Use this space to list your CMA candidacy and any other certifications you have.

If you do not have any other certifications or licenses, then list yourself as a CMA candidate under Experience or Education.

In both scenarios, list the date you will be sitting for the exam. This date should be no later than three to six months from the date of your CMA candidate resume submission. Otherwise, it will look like you are procrastinating.

Worse, it could look like you are trying to fool recruiters into believing you are working towards something just to land a job, when in reality, you have no intention of completing it.

Bonus points if you have already passed one part of the exam. Be sure to highlight this accomplishment on your resume, because it shows your intention, dedication, and proven track record for successful completion.

Choosing the Best CMA Resume Format

Image - Choosing the Best CMA Resume Format

Competition is fierce, and some people like to think outside the box in order to stand out. In the field of accounting and finance, I would not recommend this.

Rather than fall for flashy resume designs, stick with a tried and true format.

Follow these simple guidelines to structure your CMA resume format:

  • Keep it brief: Limit your resume to a single page.
  • Use reverse chronological order: List work experience with your most recent job first.
  • Use simple fonts: Use classic fonts, like Arial or Times New Roman, no smaller than 10pt-12pt.
  • Avoid “Objective”: Do NOT use an “Objective Statement” — the objective is obvious and it’s a waste of space.
  • Avoid repetition: Don’t include “Summary” paragraphs unless you are desperate to fill in some space.
  • Limit bulleted lists: Don’t over-use bullet points and keep lists to a manageable size.

Creating the ultimate CMA candidate resume is deceptively simple. For each job, list out no more than three to six sentences pertaining to your general job duties. Follow this up with one to three bullet points to call recruiters’ attention to important accomplishments.

Individuals in this industry are notoriously traditional. Too much creativity can turn them off, so keep your resume details lean and clean.

Your Accounting Resume Cover Letter

A good resume is essential to have in your arsenal as you move forward in your CMA career. One important element that will change for every company you apply with is your cover letter.

A resume cover letter can make you stand out – if it’s done well. Don’t simply reiterate the information in your resume. Instead, create a brief, succinct, and personalized message to the hiring manager or HR personnel.

A good cover letter shows that you understand the position and feel confident that you have the experience and skills to excel in the role.

Even if you don’t have the name of the hiring manager, you can easily create a cover letter that mirrors language in the job posting, and ensures you put yourself in the right light as a top candidate for the position.

Leveraging LinkedIn Before Taking the CMA Exam

Image - Leveraging LinkedIn Before Taking the CMA Exam

LinkedIn is a massive tool with virtual access requiring minimal effort. It goes without saying that job recruiters will be looking for your profile before contacting you.

In addition to your CMA resume, recruiters are likely to review your social profile — one of which is your LinkedIn profile.

Take the time to make sure your profile is as up-to-date as possible.

Since you have not earned your certification just yet, you will want to use your LinkedIn profile Headline to advertise that you are a CMA candidate.

Linkedin screenshot

Request endorsements from your previous or current colleagues on your accounting skills.

Linkedin screenshot

Follow your favorite finance and accounting companies to receive updates and show you’re interested.

Linkedin screenshot

Join groups related to the CMA designation and don’t forget to engage in them regularly.

Linkedin screenshot

CMA Resume Examples

It can be helpful to see how other successful professionals have crafted their CMA resumes.

Here is a resume example you can use as a template to adapt as a CMA or CMA candidate:

FIRST NAME, LAST NAME

Address | Phone number | Email

Summary:

(A maximum of two sentences summarizing your areas of greatest strength and experience.)

Certifications:

(List your CMA candidacy and expected date of completion. Add any other certifications you hold.)

Work experience:

(List in reverse-chronological order, formatted as follows)

COMPANY NAME
Role/title
Dates of employment | Location of employment

  • Areas of responsibility
  • Areas of responsibility
  • Areas of responsibility

Any accomplishments or achievements in this position.

COMPANY NAME
Role/title
Dates of employment | Location of employment

  • Areas of responsibility
  • Areas of responsibility
  • Areas of responsibility

Any accomplishments or achievements in this position.

COMPANY NAME
Role/title
Dates of employment | Location of employment

  • Areas of responsibility
  • Areas of responsibility
  • Areas of responsibility

Any accomplishments or achievements in this position.

Education:

(List in reverse-chronological order, formatted as follows)

NAME OF SCHOOL
Degree program
Dates of attendance
Notes of distinction

NAME OF SCHOOL
Degree program
Dates of attendance
Notes of distinction

Skills:

(List very briefly anything in which you are highly proficient, including languages, technology, soft skills, etc.)

Philanthropy and Volunteering:

(List very briefly any organizations or volunteer activities in which you have played a leadership role.)

A Great Resume Catalyzes a Great CMA Career

It is important to remember that the Certified Management Accountant certification is recognized globally. Professionals, especially those in the corporate sector, recognize the unique and valuable skills a CMA brings to the table.

By becoming a CMA, you are demonstrating in-depth knowledge and understanding of accounting and financial management skills that recruiters are looking for.

If you don’t yet have the certification, the fact that you are working hard to become a CMA demonstrates your potential. It’s a signal to employers that you’re interested in learning, growth, and leadership.

Now is the time to commit to becoming a CMA and taking your accounting career to the next level.

Need help passing the CMA exam to make this happen?

Learn more about how the CMA Exam Academy will help you pass on the very first try.

7 Comments on “CMA Resume Tips for Candidates at Any Stage of Certification”

  1. Hi Nathan
    Quick question. I recently passed both exams and fulfilled the other requirements. How long does it take to receive the formal certification. Can I indicate my CMA certification on my resume?

    Thx

    1. Hi Julie,

      Congrats on passing both the exam!

      You’ll be able to indicate your CMA title on the resume as soon as the IMA approves your education and work experience requirements and displays the CMA badge on your IMA profile.

  2. it would be more easier if you could just give us a sample of how a resume looks for a trainee level in cma..

    1. Hi Alda, I may create an example of a CMA candidate resume and add it to this post later on, but in the meantime you can easily search for resume templates on the web 🙂

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