Home > 
4 Payroll Resume Examples & Guide...

4 Payroll Resume Examples & Guide for 2024

Your payroll resume must clearly outline your proficiency with payroll software and systems. Demonstrate your expertise in handling confidential information with the utmost integrity. In your payroll resume, detail your experience with processing payroll accurately and on time. Highlight how you've ensured compliance with taxation and employment laws to instill confidence in potential employers.

Good payroll specialists are valued by all - be they employees or employers.

The reason for this? They are responsible for ensuring that every employee gets paid exactly what they have earned.

This includes tracking hours, calculating benefits, distributing payments, calculating overtime pay, and many more.

In short - taking care of payroll operations requires industry knowledge and a huge deal of accountability.

And naturally, proving you have what it takes is essential for landing an interview.

The best way to do that? By crafting a top-notch resume that makes you stand out as the top applicant.

Don’t worry. We’ll guide you through the process.

What you’ll learn from this payroll resume guide:

  • How to grab the attention of recruiters with just 2-3 sentences
  • Some industry best practices for describing your previous payroll-related (or not!) experience
  • What skills recruiters are looking for in payroll specialists
  • Whether you need to add information about your education

The basis of a job-winning payroll resume: format and structure

What’s something both experienced payroll specialists ready for an upgrade and recent graduates looking to gain experience need?


Yes, you read that correctly. The knowledge of how to build a strong resume.

And similarly to your payroll responsibilities, your payroll resume must follow at least some form of pre-defined structure.

But what’s the best way to introduce structure into every resume? Knowing how to format it in a way that wows recruiters!

There are numerous types of resume formats but the most popular ones include:

The functional skills-based resume is perfect for you if you’re a fresh graduate or someone who has just decided to switch careers. This format lets you focus on your talents and transferable skills, helping you prove you’d make the perfect employee even if you lack experience.

The reverse-chronological format, on the other hand, is more suitable for professionals with long years of experience behind their backs. It allows you to list all your previous positions in a reverse-chronological way in order to show how you’ve grown over the years.

And if neither of these sounds relevant to you, then build yourself a hybrid resume. It’s a combination between the functional and the reverse-chronological formats. It’s perfect for applicants who want to showcase their payroll skills without sacrificing the valuable experience they have gained in the past.

In addition, the hybrid format is also great if you have some achievements you’d like to highlight. This can help you stand out even from more experienced applicants.

Here are some other tips for your resume layout:

Panel: 6 must-have sections for your payroll resume

top sections icon

6 must-have sections for your payroll resume

  • A short header: for all your contact details
  • An intriguing summary: to highlight your achievements and strengths
  • A detailed skills section: for your payroll-related soft and hard skills
  • A strong experience section: to prove you’re the best candidate
  • A concise education section: for your university-related accomplishments
  • A certification section: to show you’re willing to learn and grow personally and professionally

You have included all these sections to your payroll resume, but are still struggling to land an interview?

Then you might want to put yourself in the recruiter’s shoes and tailor your payroll resume accordingly.

A simple yet effective way to do that is by adding information that all employers want to see.

top sections icon

Things to mention in your payroll resume and win recruiters’ hearts

  • The number of employees you had to take care of
  • The amount of annual payroll you had to manage
  • Whether you have taken any steps to minimize errors
  • Whether you have implemented some tactics to reduce costs
  • The reports you have produced to simplify different accounting and HR procedures
  • Your individual way of ensuring and even simplifying tax compliance
  • The payroll software you’re proficient in using

Generally-speaking, all these things could be included in your payroll resume’s experience section.

However, we advise you to split up the information between different sections in order to give your resume a more complete feel.

Might sound a bit complicated in theory, but let’s see how you can put it into practice!

A header that shows your attention to detail

The header section is something many people take for granted.

It’s also something that can stop even the best candidate from landing an interview.

You know why? Because the information it contains is extremely valuable - the contact details that recruiters will need to arrange an interview.

Let’s look at two examples:

Right vs. wrong - 2 payroll resume header examples

Bobby Smith
Detroit, MI

Do you see anything wrong?

If you ask us, many things need attention.

Let’s start with the name - you should always use your full name. In the case of Bobby Smith, that would probably be Bob Smith.

Then comes the title - it should be as clear as possible. Add your full position for optimal results.

Finally, let’s look at the email address and the link. They don’t really show this candidate in the best light. It’d be better if Bob Smith chose something along the lines of bob.smith@yahoo.com, smith_bob@yahoo.com, or even b.smith@yahoo.com.

And when it comes to the link - pointing recruiters to your social media account is not a good idea unless you’re a very influential person who shares strictly professional advice with their followers.

Let’s see how this header section could be improved.

Bob Smith
Payroll Administrator
Detroit, MI

Now that’s better!

This header section looks neat and professional. 10/10!

It’s time to move on to the resume summary.

The payroll resume summary: a guided walk through your career

3 payroll resume summary examples: good and bad

To be completely honest, the resume summary is often overlooked by applicants.

Many payroll specialists even consider it optional.

But trust us, walking the extra mile and coming up with a strong resume summary has many pros.

It can fascinate recruiters. Or at least make them want to read the rest of your resume rather than leave it aside.

In short, your payroll resume summary should:

  • Be 3 to 5 sentences long
  • Paint a picture of what it’d be like to have you on the team
  • Highlight 2-3 of your strongest skills
  • Mention how many years of relevant experience you have.

Look at the examples below:

Thank you for considering my application.

Although many choose to have this as their resume summary, you should aim higher.

Expressing gratitude for the recruiter’s time and consideration is sure great, but the resume summary is not the best place for that.

Let’s try again.

I have 2 years of experience as a payroll administrator and want to be successful. I am a skilled negotiator and a great singer. Proficient in Excel.

This is a bit better, but still far from perfect.

For starters, you should only add skills and talents that are relevant to the job.

If singing is not part of the desired qualifications, then leave it for the informal part of the interview (if there’s such).

Also, if you have at least some experience, elaborate on it and share how it could help you perform well in the future.

A motivated Payroll Administrator with over 2 years of experience in a fin-tech company. Having worked with over 400 full-time employees and contractors, I am ready to deal with any issue that may come my way. Proficient in MS Excel and QuickBooks.

Feel the difference?

The third resume summary example really highlights the strengths of this payroll administrator. It also mentions their biggest achievement - taking care of over 400 employees.

If you’re not really sure what to put in your resume summary, follow the structure of the one above.

And after you’ve come up with a resume summary to be proud of, you need to craft a job-winning experience section!

Proving your expertise through your payroll resume’s experience section

You need to be very specific when it comes to the experience section. Generally speaking, it should include:

  • The name of your previous employer
  • A short description of the company
  • Your previous positions
  • The dates of employment (month and year would be enough)
  • Your main responsibilities
  • The results that have followed from your efforts (ideally described using numbers)

Let’s look at two examples and discuss them afterwards:

1 good and 1 bad experience example for your payroll resume

Payroll Practitioner II
HP Inc.
New York, NY
I worked for HP Inc.
  • Performed payroll-related tasks
  • Senior colleagues supervised me
  • Award for responsibility and excellency
  • Error-minimization

You can use the example above as an inspiration for what not to do when drafting your experience section. Let’s see why:

First of all, look at the description. It would be better if this Enhancv user provided a more detailed description of the multinational company they used to work for.

However, this is a minor issue.

Far more important is the way that they have described their responsibilities.

Their main tasks have not been highlighted, and we can’t get an idea of what their skills and strengths are.

This is crucial because recruiters often use the experience section to get an idea of what having you on the team would be.

Thus, a good way to make a strong first impression is to start each bullet point with an action verb. This will provide more clarity on what your previous responsibilities were and show you’re willing to take action.

Look at the example below:

Payroll Practitioner II
HP Inc.
New York, NY
HP Inc. is a multinational company headquartered in California
  • Calculated wage and overtime payments for 300 employees per month
  • Recorded payroll deductions and tax obligations
  • Maintained daily attendance records for 3 departments
  • Assisted in the preparation of tax reports and financial statements

The second version of this payroll practitioner’s resume looks much more promising.

They have stated their responsibilities in a detailed yet concise manner. They have also pointed out the things they can do well.

Last but not least - they have made an effort to sound responsible and professional. Thanks, action verbs!

pro tip icon
Pro tip

Remember: being as specific as possible is always a good idea when it comes to crafting a job-winning payroll resume.

Here are some other things you can add to the experience section of your payroll resume:

  • The number of people you have supported or managed
  • Whether you require guidance when preparing and filing tax reports
  • The types of budgets you have maintained and/or monitored
  • The types of payroll software you have used
  • Whether you have worked with contractors or full-time employees (or both)
  • The types of internal audits you have performed
  • Certain challenges you have faced and how you have overcome them.

Still not 100% sure how to describe your previous payroll-related duties? Let’s see…

How to describe previous payroll duties on your resume

We already talked about action verbs. Another way to make an even stronger impression is to use numbers.

There are different ways to do that, and they include talking about your achievements or sharing more about the direct results your efforts have led to.

However, we know that this could be complicated if you have little to no payroll experience. You might be a recent graduate or someone who’s looking for a career change.

If that’s the case, you can focus on:

  • Your transferable skills
  • Your education
  • Your past responsibilities (just make sure to link them to the job you’re applying for)

Wondering what the top payroll skills for your resume are? Let’s see…

Payroll skills to kill for

Regardless of whether you’re a junior payroll specialist, a senior payroll administrator, or an experienced payroll manager, there are multiple skills that help you jiggle between responsibilities and handle issues.

These include both soft and hard skills, and focusing too much on one or the other won’t do you good.

What’s more, many hiring managers use applicant tracking systems (also known as ATS) to pre-screen applicant documents for keywords. That’s why checking the job advert out before drafting your skills section could prove useful.

Let’s begin with hard skills since they are the most obvious ones.

Generally speaking, hard skills are the ones that help you produce quantitative results and require you to use your hands. For instance:

top sections icon

Top hard skills examples for payroll resume

  • MS Excel
  • ADP
  • SAP
  • QuickBooks
  • PTO calculation
  • Tax knowledge
  • Labor law knowledge
  • Data entry
  • HRIS
  • Data analysis
  • Research
  • Multi-state payroll
  • Payroll tax forms
  • Data processing
  • Reporting
  • MS Word
  • Kronos

How to add soft skills to your payroll resume

Talking about hard skills, it’s worth mentioning that the days when they used to be the only thing that matters are long gone.

Even more so - currently, soft skills are considered as (if not more) important than hard skills. It doesn’t matter whether you’re a junior or a director.

But what makes them so valuable?

In short, soft skills are cherished by recruiters because they can be transferred between careers and industries.

And when we talk about soft skills, we mean both talents (things that come to you naturally) and capabilities (things that you have had to practice in order to master).

That being said, including a talent section in your resume is always a good idea.

Hard work without talent is a shame, but talent without hard work is a tragedy.

Robert Half

A confident communicator able to talk about anything to anyone
A natural-born leader who values people’s opinions and makes sure everyone feels heard, respected, and guided in the right direction
Able to organize my time to meet tight schedules and leave enough room for personal development
top sections icon

List of payroll soft skills for your resume

  • Communication
  • Teamwork
  • Leadership
  • Problem-solving
  • Creativity
  • Time-management
  • Flexibility
  • Independence
  • Working under pressure
  • Team management
  • Responsibility
  • Self-motivation
  • Patience
  • Resilience
  • Stress-management
  • Active listening
  • Collaboration
  • Interpersonal skills
  • Emotional intelligence
  • Critical thinking
  • Proactivity
  • Work ethic
  • Positive attitude
  • Conflict resolution
  • Decision-making
  • Empathy
  • People skills
  • Discipline
  • Commitment

Looking for other payroll skills? Check out this article!

Perfecting the education section of your payroll resume

So how much attention do recruiters devote to the education section?

Well, it depends on the position you’re applying for.

In general, entry-level payroll positions require you to have formal education in accounting, human resources, or finance.

But even if you hold a degree in a different field, adding it to your resume could still increase your chances of landing an interview.

Make sure to include your major and the name of the university you went to. Skip the grade if you graduated over 3-4 years ago.

In addition to a neat education section, you might want to include a certifications section. Let’s see what this should look like.

Standing out with a strong certification section

Truth be told, almost all professional certifications would look well on your payroll resume.

But if you want to really stand out from other applicants, you should think of highlighting the certificates that have upskilled you as a payroll specialist.

Here are the top 5 most respected payroll certificates:

top sections icon

Top 5 payroll certificates for your resume

  1. Certified Payroll Professional (CPP)
  2. Fundamental Payroll Certification (FPC)
  3. QuickBooks Certification
  4. NACPB’s Payroll Certification
  5. ADP Certification

Don’t worry if you haven’t passed any of these certifications, though.

Certificates are just bonus points that can help you stand out, but they’re definitely not the most important part of your resume.

So if you don’t have relevant certificates to put in your certifications section, focus on adding as much value as possible to other parts of your payroll resume.

Showcasing your personality by using other sections

Creative sections have gained huge popularity in the past few years.

Adding a ‘What my day looks like’ section is great if you don’t have much experience.

A ‘Projects’ section, on the other hand, works wonders if you want to emphasize the number of projects you’ve supported or led.

No matter what other sections you choose for your payroll resume, make sure to go for things that add value and portray you more fully.

Key takeaways

  • Pay attention to your resume header - make sure there are no typos and use a professional-sounding email address
  • Don’t underestimate the resume summary - it’s the best way to grab the recruiter’s attention
  • When describing your past responsibilities, go for action verbs and numbers
  • Consult the job advert when adding skills to your resume’s skills section - this will help you pass ATS
  • Highlight relevant certificates to show you’re willing to learn and grow - both as an individual and as a professional.

Payroll resume examples

Explore additional payroll resume samples and guides and see what works for your level of experience or role.

By Role

Payroll Admin

Emerging from the field of financial management, the Payroll Admin job is closely linked with payroll management trends.

Key pointers to improve your resume for this job include:

  • Understanding of payroll laws is crucial. Highlight examples of how you've applied current legislation to payroll calculations and reports.
  • Feature your data entry and calculation skills. Don’t just list these, but rather demonstrate how they have impacted accuracy and efficiency, like 'reduced errors by...'.
  • Show practical knowledge of payroll software, such as QuickBooks, SAP or ADP. Having solid computer skills is a must, so be sure to emphasize how you utilized them to improve the payroll process, following the 'skill-action-results' pattern.
View Payroll Admin Resume

Payroll Director

Carved out from strategic financial management, the role of a Payroll Director is often determined by prevailing payroll strategy trends.

Enhance your application with these tips:

  • A comprehensive understanding of payroll strategy is paramount. Emphasize your role in aligning payroll processes with business goals.
  • Don't merely list your strategic skills; show its impact, like 'increased efficiency by...'.
  • Proficiency in payroll software and readiness to embrace new solutions should be highlighted.
  • Show your people management skills and their impact on team performance, thus contributing to efficient payroll management.
  • Always follow the 'skill-action-results' pattern.
View Payroll Director Resume

Payroll Manager

Belonging primarily to the field of human resource management, Payroll Manager's role is often shaped by workforce management trends.

To successfully apply for this job, keep in mind:

  • Knowledge of various pay structures is vital. Highlight your ability to design and implement employee compensation plans.
  • Don't just mention your management skills; instead, show their impact, like 'improved processing time by...'.
  • Ability to use payroll software and analyse payroll data should be emphasized.
  • Proven leadership skills in managing and developing payroll personnel must be underlined. Don't just list this skill, instead show how it has resulted in improved team performance and efficiency.
  • Follow the 'skill-action-results' mantra throughout.
View Payroll Manager Resume
payroll resume example

Looking to build your own Payroll resume?

Enhancv resume builder will help you create a modern, stand-out resume that gets results
Variety of custom sections
Hassle-free templates
Easy edits
Memorable design
Content suggestions