Looking for a job can be challenging!
Gathering the right resources is a key step to set yourself up for success.
Read on for some important tips that will help you land a job in the accounting industry.
Prepare your resume
Crafting an informative, engaging and concise resume takes work.
Regardless of the kind of job you’re applying to, your resume should give an overview of your education, any relevant paid or volunteer experience you have, your skills, any awards and achievements you’ve earned and your professional goals.
Start with the information that you want them to notice first, like your objective, education and employment experience.
Want more accounting career insight?
Check out our Accounting Career Guide!
Your resume should be well-organized and easy to read. Use a clean font, keep it under two pages and make sure that your contact information is easily visible.
If a potential employer does decide to call you for an interview, you don’t want them to have to search for your phone number!
Your resume should highlight any experience a position specifically requires.
If you’re not sure about how to put together your resume, look for samples or templates online, or try talking to people in the industry about their resume. If you’ve built up a professional relationship, ask for their input on your resume design.
Looking at LinkedIn profiles is another great way to see how industry professionals represent themselves online. What information do they include?
Write a (stellar) cover letter
A cover letter is your chance to show off your personality and intrigue the company you’re applying to. Even if the job posting doesn’t ask for a cover letter, it’s a good idea to include one.
Your cover letter shouldn’t be more than one page. Two is an absolute maximum, and only when all of the information you’re sharing is relevant.
Companies often get hundreds of applications, so your effort to keep things concise will be appreciated. Your tone should be professional but personable – you want to sound like a real person, not a computer or a robot.
You’ll also want to try to match the tone and style of the job listing as much as possible, and use any keywords they use.
Does the posting mention the importance of teamwork?
If so, be sure to talk about your ability to work well with others in your cover letter. Discuss your experience and how it matches what they’re looking for, why you want the job and why you’re a good fit for the position.
You can also look at the company’s values and mission, etc., to be able to better elaborate on why you’re the perfect candidate for this job.
A final check
Before submitting your cover letter, make sure that you’ve followed all instructions.
Did you answer any questions the posting asked? Did you provide any required supplementary information?
Be sure to edit your letter very carefully. One typo will likely be enough to put you out of the running – especially because attention to detail is highly important in accounting.
Prepare for the interview
If you get invited in for an interview, it means that you have a strong application and that you’ve proven you have the experience the position requires.
All that’s left is to demonstrate to your potential employer that you have great interpersonal skills, too.
The right research
Before you go in to the interview, make sure you’ve researched the company you’re applying to.
With the internet at your fingertips, there’s no excuse for not knowing a bit about the place you’ve applied to work at.
Read about the company’s culture and think about how you could be a good fit within the team.
Next, make a list of questions you might get asked and write out thoughtful but succinct responses. Use these questions to help you get started:
- Why do you want to be an accountant?
- Why do you want to work for this company?
- In your opinion, what characteristics does a good accountant have?
- What do you think the role of an accountant is within a company?
- What are your top three strengths and weaknesses?
- If you were to be hired for this position, how would you ensure there are no mistakes in your work? If you did make a mistake, how would you handle the situation?
- Describe a stressful situation from school, work or a volunteer position. How did you handle it?
- Describe a situation where you came into conflict with a co-worker or supervisor. What happened and how did you respond?
Basically, it’s important to think about why you want to be in the accounting industry, why you want to work for that particular company and what you have to offer.
You should also be prepared for situational questions (like numbers 6-8 above) since interviewers often ask these to get to know more about you as a person.
Get some practice
Once you know what you want to say, practice answering these questions out loud.
Better yet, ask a friend to practice with you or record your answers and play them back to see how you can improve your responses.
After you’ve got your answers ready, make a list of questions you want to ask at the end of the interview. Is there anything you want to know about the position that wasn’t mentioned in the job listing?
Perhaps you want to know more about the company or the people who work there, or you’ll want to ask the interviewers to elaborate on something they said in the job interview.
Ace the interview
Pick out one of your nicest interview outfits and be prepared to enter the room feeling confident. Contact your references ahead of time to let them know that you’ve applied for a job and that they might receive a call from the company to discuss your experience and attributes.
Arrive for your interview at least 10 minutes early (allowing extra time for traffic, delays in public transport, finding parking, etc.). Try to relax. Remember that the company is already interested in you – this is a chance for you to show some personal character and give them a chance to assess your personal fit.
After the interview, follow up with a thank-you note or email that also briefly reminds the company of why you’re the right person for the job.