You should be searching for a job during the last year of your accounting program. When asked “what are you looking for in your accounting career”, it may be tempting to state “a job in accounting that pays money” but with some added effort you may be able to create multiple opportunities for yourself and enhance some non-accounting skills that will further develop you in your professional career. Explore career opportunities using a variety of recruitment strategies.
Direct recruitment through accounting programs. (Meet the Firms, Networking Socials, Career Fairs, Open House) Attend as many events as possible. Recruitment will give you practice interacting professionally with potential employers and help you develop a sense of how to have a productive conversation during an interview or while applying for a job. You are also planting seeds with numerous accounting professionals that you can cultivate into your future field of networking contacts.
Job listings through your accounting program and area firms. Your career services department will maintain some listings from area firms and you can look up accounting firms in areas where you wish to work. Perhaps these firms will list job openings on their websites or respond to you if you write a letter to the firm inquiring about any potential jobs.
Networking is another good way to search for an accounting job. Contact any accountants you know (remember those recruitment events you attended?) and ask if they can recommend any job openings. They may suggest employers you have not yet heard of or may know someone who is looking to hire.
The job application process…resume, cover letter, and interviews. Your resume should highlight all of the work experience you have thus far and list all of your job-related skills. As a student, you may not have that much vocational experience but it’s important to list part tie work as a student and extracurricular activities. A career counselor at your university career-services office look over your resume and provide advice on how to best present yourself to potential employers. Your cover letter should introduce you and express your interest in the job for which you are applying. Use your cover letter to show your knowledge about the company and to show how your skills directly relate to the job for which you are applying. Rather than repeating information listed in your resume, your cover letter should expand on one or two particular aspects of your background that are the most important to the position you seek.
During an interview, you may need to behave more formally than you otherwise would while working at an accounting job. Some employers are more formal than others, and it is always better to air on the side of caution, overdress, and be overly but not disingenuously courteous during your interview. Research your potential employer before the interview so that you can discuss your skills in a way that relates them to the job you seek and your potential employer’s individual needs. Prepare several relevant questions to ask about the job. Elaborate on the things listed in your resume and quantify what you have contributed to the organizations you have worked for previously.
I graduated from college in 1986 and a new best-seller was on the market entitled Knock ‘em Dead-With Great Answers to Tough Interview Questions. I thought it was a great overview on how to answer questions and provided insight on why such questions would be important to an interviewer. So, think ahead about what you will discuss during your interview. Although you will not know the exact questions that your interviewer will ask, you can prepare answers for common interview questions. Prepare yourself to elaborate on the details of why you are the right fit for their need. Explain a problem you had to solve, the steps you went through to solve the problem, and the outcome. Include quantitative information if possible.
Also, be prepared with your own questions. Your employer has a need to fill and insightful questions help direct your conversation to solving their “problem” and positions you as a potential solution. Learn as much as you can about your potential employer you will be prepared to thoughtful questions that show your knowledge of the company and interest in making a contribution to the organization.
Follow up to say “thank you”. Regardless of whether you are hired, you had an opportunity to meet someone who took interest in you and your career and you never know where the roots of professional relationships may create new opportunities in your professional future.
Best of luck in your future endeavors!
I also took a couple of minutes to share some comments from an article I read recently entitled “How An Ordinary Person Can Make a difference in the World” by Tim Denning. I think it’s worth a read and I hope you have the opportunity to share your skills and abilities and help someone who can benefit from a person like YOU. The link is listed below…