If you’re like three in 10 Canadian professionals (36 per cent) in a recent Accountemps survey, you plan to look for a new job this year. But even though you have the employment market on your side, landing the best accounting jobs will take some work.
It doesn’t matter if you’re a recent graduate, in between employers or looking for a different role in the middle of your career, you need to manage your time effectively with job search strategies that work.
There aren’t any magic formulas to landing the best accounting jobs, but here are eight ways to streamline the process and get results.
1. Set career goals and be focused
Before you apply to the first open position that crosses your path, start by clearly defining your goals and mapping out an accounting career path. Make sure you know what you’re after by answering the following questions:
- Where do you see yourself in five years? In 10 years?
- Which areas of accounting are you passionate about, and how should you gain more expertise in those fields?
- Are you willing to commute long distances or even relocate for a job?
- What sort of salary and benefits do you need or aspire to in your career? (See the latest Robert Half Salary Guide for Canadian compensation data on more than 150 accounting and finance positions.)
- Do you want to travel and work longer hours to get ahead quickly, or is work-life balance more important to you at this stage in your life?
2. Schedule your tasks
Having a plan in place can help you stay organized in your search and makes for more effective time management. If you’re already working full time, carve out an hour or two in the early morning, after work and/or on weekends to research companies to see whether you’d be a good fit with them and they’d be a good fit for your career.
Refresh your work information on your accounting resume with career milestone updates, but also consider whether a bigger revamp is needed.
Don’t worry as much about the length of your resume as you might have in the past. While three-quarters (77 per cent) of senior managers prefer a one-page resume for staff-level candidates, a full 20 per cent believe two pages is an ideal length.
Whenever possible, schedule activities that propel you toward your career goals, such as getting your CPA or keeping up with your continuing professional education requirements, working toward a financial designation or degree, and taking classes to become more proficient in industry-wide software like Excel and QuickBooks.
3. Access contacts and new networks
As the saying goes, “It’s not what you know, it’s who you know.” Knowing how to make connections at professional conferences and networking events can be a tremendous skill and a resource that can help open doors to new jobs. Keep in mind that your most valuable contacts may not be the obvious ones; i.e., those working in accounting. But that stay-at-home dad next door may have a sister who’s a CFO at a growing company.
If you’ve already tapped your network, it’s time to search for new connections. Go to meetings of local accounting and business groups. You’ll meet people while also staying on top of industry and career trends in your market.
Brand yourself with a short elevator pitch about your accounting background and job goals, such as this: “You may remember I worked in accounting for XYZ Corporation. I’m actively looking for a similar position. I have 10 years of experience in cost accounting, but I’m also considering general accounting jobs. Do you know of any companies that are hiring?”
4. Set your sites online
Twenty-one per cent of the managers in the survey said a candidate’s online profile is as important as the resume. So review your accounts to make sure they cast you in a favorable light. Write a strong social media profile and keep it up to date, noting key accomplishments at your current and previous jobs.
On LinkedIn, your profile is part of a basic membership, which is free and gives you access to professionally oriented discussion groups that provide forums for sharing what you know. Paid memberships come with features such as InMail — a LinkedIn-based email service — and prioritized job applications.
5. Map your moves
Portability is one of the coolest things about the accounting profession. 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. Put some thought into how to find the right city for your next job.
6. Rely on a recruiter
There’s an obvious downside to job boards: They're impersonal — unlike working with staffing professionals who are willing and eager to invest time learning about you, your skills and your preferences. Having a specialist on your side for your accounting jobs search is just one of the benefits of working with staffing agency.
By working with a job recruiter to boost your search, you can improve your odds of landing a job, 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.
7. Consider temporary accounting jobs
A great way to hone your skills, get experience, establish vital connections and earn an income all at the same time is to work at temporary or part-time accounting jobs. A recruiter from a staffing firm that specializes in temporary accounting and finance positions can help you find opportunities that suit your background and career interests.
Besides giving you an inside look at a variety of companies, temporary work can give you insight into different kinds of accounting jobs. Interim assignments also allow you to get your foot in the door in a company and show an employer your potential. That’s why temporary assignments can also be steppingstones to full-time accounting positions.