You've heard it before, but it's still true: It's not so much what you know but who you know when it comes to advancing your accounting career. If you want to change jobs, but you're finding your professional network is a little thin, you might want to consider working with an employment agency.
When you're properly prepared, a good employment agency – be aware that they're also known as staffing firms, headhunters, recruiters or other names – can help you identify and land great jobs. That's because these organizations all do one thing: Match job seekers with employment opportunities at client companies. And the good news is that their services are free to you; the client pays the agency's fees.
Follow these simple steps to position yourself for success when working with an employment agency:
Step 1: Find the right employment agency
Research each agency before you reach out to any of them. You want to make sure you're a good fit for the types of jobs they fill and the companies they work with.
For instance, you want to register with a staffing firm that specializes in placing accounting and finance professionals. An agency that lacks an industry focus may not have the expertise or network of contacts to identify the right job for you. Similarly, if you want to work part time or are just beginning your career, it's a good idea to look for a staffing firm that concentrates on temporary accounting positions.
Also, look for an employment agency that gives you access to online training and other career resources. These tools can help you improve your skills as you conduct a job search.
Step 2: Do your homework
Recruiters appreciate and are more willing to put forward the names of candidates who are well prepared, so have your job search materials ready to go. Refresh your resume, create a cover letter you can customize for each position, inform your references you're getting ready to look for work, and review common interview questions and practise your answers.
At the same time, familiarize yourself with salary and performance expectations for the positions that interest you so you can evaluate opportunities that are offered to you. Your representative at the employment agency you work through can provide insight into these areas.
Step 3: Connect and stay in touch
If you are new to the job market or are still building your professional reputation, you're probably not on any staffing firm's radar yet. So it's up to you to make the first move. Upload your current resume to the firm's website or call the office and ask to speak to a recruiter.
Don't fret if you don't hear back immediately. It can take time to identify the right assignment. Be patient and keep in contact so the employment agency is aware of any new developments in your search. Let your contact know if you come across any jobs that interest you. He or she may be able to offer advice that makes you a stronger candidate for the role.
Step 4: Take their advice
Good recruiters will work with you to pinpoint promising accounting positions, stay abreast of industry trends, polish your resume, avoid interview blunders and present yourself in the best possible light to employers. Listen to their guidance and follow it. Remember, they're experts at finding accounting and finance professionals rewarding employment opportunities.