Staff accountants are the backbone of any finance and accounting team. The best ones are good with numbers, pay close attention to details, and are familiar with GAAP accounting and numerous ERP systems. While Staff Accountants generally report to the Controller, VP of Finance, or CFO, they are set up for strong growth in their careers.
Staff Accountant Responsibilities
- Create accurate financial statements, including income statements, Balance Sheets, and Statement of Cash Flows
- Own the monthly close process, including preparing journal entries and reconciling various accounts
- Assist in external audits of financial statements with third party accounting firms
- Drive insights by researching and interpreting trends in financial data
- Develop the annual budget process and any interim forecasting changes
- Support business leaders in completing special projects, ad-hoc reporting, and strategic analysis as requested
Staff Accountant Qualifications
- BS/BA in Finance, Accounting, Economics, or similar
- 2+ years of professional experience in accounting
- Advanced Excel (V-Lookup and Pivot Tables)
- High degree of organization, initiative, attention to detail, and flexibility to accommodate deadlines
- Excellent communications skills
- Team player
- Enterprise-level software planning systems
- Big 4 accounting experience is nice to have
Staff Accountant Salary
Staff Accountant Salary New York Average: $60,000
Staff Accountant Salary Range: $45,000 – $80,000
The best part about the Staff Accountant role is that it’s a great place to start or grow your career, meaning your salary can only go up from here. Remember every company has finances, and the need for staff to be stewards of this capital. The other great news? The number provided are cash figures and could include an incentive, bonus, or stock comp on top of that.
So what’s the difference between the Staff Accountant who earns $45,000 and the one who earns $80,000? We’ve worked with several organizations and have found companies are willing to pay candidates more if they have the following skills and qualifications:
- Bachelor’s degree in Accounting
- Big 4 experience
- Specific experience in the company’s systems & procedures
- Negotiating skills
One surprising fact?
Seniority does not have as big of an impact as people think; raises come in the first few years of the position. But after that you should look to grow your skills and become an Accounting Manager, Controller, or even Chief Financial Officer.
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Are you ready to become a world-class Staff Accountant? Join Vested and let companies apply to you.
What Do Staff Accountants Do?
What does it take to be a high-performing Staff Accountant? Let us break it down for you and examine what separates successful Staff Accountants from the rest.
Before we dive in, think about this for a moment: You are a Staff Accountant at the company of your dreams. Now imagine the CEO calls and asks you what you do on a daily basis.
There’s just one catch: You only get 30 seconds of his time.
What are you going to lead with? “I prepare journal entries, maintain and reconcile general ledger accounts” and so on?
No, of course not! Which is why it is so puzzling that people describe the accountant role this way.
The best Staff Accountants think differently! If you had 30 seconds, you would frame your staff accounting role like a top performer would:
I generate financial statements that accurately measure and track the impact of our business initiatives.
I handle end-to-end implementation of the company’s financial infrastructure and accounting policy.
I’m responsible for creating meaningful explanations for fluctuations in financials that result in important strategic decisions.
Now with that in mind, let’s drill down each responsibility a little further:
1. Generate financial statements that accurately measure and track impact of business initiatives.
Put simply, you’ll be responsible for putting together and owning company-wide financial statements. If it sounds like a lot of responsibility, it is! But let’s break this down to the micro tasks:
- Attending meetings with your business leaders to review cash and accrued expenses
- Preparing the various monthly general ledger entries, including account reconciliations
- Reconciling cash accounts with financial statements
2. Implement the company’s financial infrastructure and accounting policy.
Staff Accountants working at startups are most likely to have a say in financial infrastructure. At startups, financial systems and policies are usually a mess. You can blame that on a young company’s tendency to move fast and mainly focus on product. That’s ok; this is why startups hire strong Staff Accountants who know the lingo and can put it all together.
- Working with the engineering team to ensure that you are able to accurately record revenue and expenses
- Determining which financial ERP suits your company best – NetSuite, SAP, Quickbooks, etc
- Ensuring the overall accounting processes comply with GAAP — if you do this right, you’ll save your company millions in consulting fees when you are ready to go public
3. Dive deep into each financial statement line-item to create meaningful explanations for fluctuations that lead to meaningful business decisions.
- The highest performing Staff Accountants set themselves apart by making sure the financial statements accurately reflect new business initiatives.
- Setting up budget versus actual reviews
- Identifying opportunities and risks on the P&L before business owners do
- Performing detailed analysis and having explanations on large or inconsistent variances and communicating why and what policy drives each
If you are starting your career or are already a Staff Accountant, make sure you pay attention to the guide above to ensure that you are setting yourself up for success.
How to Craft the Best Staff Accountant Resume
Think about this for a moment: You’re a hiring manager who has posted an accounting job on LinkedIn. If you’re in his or her shoes, you’re probably sitting on a pile of hundreds of Staff Accountant resumes to parse through. Spend 45 seconds on each and that’s a four hour task to just do an initial resume screen!
Now multiply that by the 10 or 15 outstanding roles they have and you can pencil in two weeks of resume screening time. And this isn’t even including the time to phone screen or coordinate an on-site visit.
So what’s the point of all of this?
You have a VERY short time to show off your resume to the people who count, so it has to be as high impact as possible.
What’s the hidden secret?
It’s using the ‘keyword’ technique. Basically, you need to highlight keywords that trigger the hiring manager and make you stand out. You become more relatable to a prospective employer if you highlight the similarities in your work experience to the company you are applying to.
For example, if you are applying to a consumer startup, make sure that you highlight your prior relevant experience. After all, the challenges that accountants face at small, growth companies are very different than those at large ones.
Tactical advice: Try to be as specific as possible when describing your prior work experience. Mention that you worked for a “fast growing startup in the cosmetics subscription space.” Notice the words paint a picture about your industry, growth experience and revenue model (the subscriptions). You’re demonstrating relevant experience and can bring institutional knowledge to the prospective company.
At startups, time is at a premium. Just take a look at the requirements for a Staff Accountant job at Uber:
- Bachelor’s degree in Accounting or Finance
- 2-3 years of professional experience
- Team player, have ability to work independently and willingness to take on challenges
- Ability to interact with all departments and levels throughout our organization
- Excellent time management skills, ability to prioritize, and multitask
- Experience with Oracle R12 or another large scale ERP is a plus!
Of the six items above, you can distill this into the following three questions.
- Do you have at least a couple of years of experience as an accountant? Check.
- Have you worked at a startup before? Check.
- Are you proficient in Oracle’s or similar financial software like Netsuite? Check.
You can really demonstrate your proficiency in number three by using a few keywords. Look at the following statement:
“Researched, selected and implemented the Netsuite cloud ERP system.”
Notice that by using those three keywords you have demonstrated that you will be extremely valuable to any startup as they scale their business.
Alternatively, you can join the Vested platform and let the companies apply to you.
This guide to Staff Accounting was created by the Vested team. If you are interested in a Staff Accounting role, please join us to get matched with opportunities at one of our partner companies.