Accounting is critical to the functioning of any enterprise, which often translates into a wealth of job opportunities and career options. Sounds great, right? Landing the best accounting jobs, however, requires a combination of strategy, professional networking and just plain hard work. So where should you start?
Set your sites
LinkedIn is a popular job-search tool – and that's doubly true for people with experience. Paid memberships come with features such as InMail – a LinkedIn-based email service – and prioritized job applications. Basic membership is free and gives you access to one of LinkedIn's hands-down best features, professionally-oriented discussion groups that provide forums for sharing what you know. Other top sites include job-board aggregators SimplyHired, CareerBuilder and Indeed.
Of course, there's an obvious downside to sites like these: They're impersonal. You're not working with a staffing professional who's willing and eager to invest time learning about you, your skills and your preferences.
Tempted by temporary jobs?
Whether you're just starting out or a seasoned professional, consider registering with a temporary staffing agency. The variety of accounting jobs you can find is one key benefit of using such a firm. Temporary accounting jobs can be especially plentiful during tax-preparation season (January 1 through April 30). Besides giving you an inside look at a variety of companies, temporary work can give you insight into different kinds of accounting jobs. Temporary assignments also can be stepping stones to full-time accounting positions.
Rely on a recruiter
By working with a specialized financial recruiter who focuses on full-time placements, you can improve your odds of landing accounting jobs, whether you're an entry-level accounting professional or an experienced financial manager. Clients ranging from startups to large companies use recruiters to locate potential hires with in-demand skills and experience.
Map your moves
Portability is one of the coolest things about the accounting profession. You'll need to be realistic, however, about not expecting relocation assistance: In today's economy such a perk is usually available only for high-level opportunities. For the sheer volume of job openings, you can't beat big cities. That said, good accountants are needed everywhere, including midsize cities and even smaller, out-of-the-way towns, where the cost of living can be lower.
Don't stop yet
Make a list of people you know in the accounting profession, including acquaintances from internships and summer jobs. Add friends and relatives who don't work in accounting but still might be able to introduce you to hiring managers or key contacts where they work. Because the best jobs often come from personal contacts and networking, these people should be the first ones to receive a copy of your resume.