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 Job Searching and Careers in Accounting

By Joe Stein

This week, you are reading a special issue of WNYJOBS, with a specific section devoted to positions in the Financial Services area.  This article will focus on positions in the field of Accounting.  We will examine Accounting from several different angles, in our hope to provide some guidance to both the individual starting out in the field, along with the person who is already entrenched.

Finding an Accounting Job:    


· is your one-stop source for positions in Accounting, with both a weekly paper and a robust online website.  There are also other avenues you can pursue both, in print and online, if you are so inclined.


·      Networking – Western New York is a relatively small community.  Reach out to those who you have previously worked with and/or for, in the goal of reconnecting relationships and securing job leads.  You can do this electronically with an online tool such as Linked In, or invest the time in the usually more fruitful method of making actual phone contact and speaking with the individual.  There are also groups devoted to just those in the Accounting field that may be beneficial to join and participate in.


·      Temporary Agencies – Many companies turn to temporary agencies to fill open positions in their Accounting Department. This may be because the position is limited in its duration, but often it is due to the employer wanting some time to observe the performance of the person (both with the team and whatever software package is being used). In that situation, the goal would be to eventually place the person on the payroll of the employer.


·      If you are seeking a professional accounting position, then an external recruiter (i.e. “headhunter”) may be the right fit for you. If you do decide to go this route, then connect with a person who will not charge you any fees for their service.


Tips for Landing an Accounting Job:


·      The Accounting field still tends to be conservative in work attire.  When you arrive on-the-site of a prospective employer, make sure your dress is appropriate to this atmosphere.  You should go into any situation expecting to wear full professional attire, unless you are 100% sure that this does not align with the company culture.


·      Focus your Resume on your key Accounting-related terms.  Previous experience, especially using certain software, can often be crucial.  Make sure you have clearly outlined what you have experienced and accomplished, in clear and easy to understand terms.  You can best do this by thoroughly reviewing the job posting or advertisement, and pulling the critical items being focused on with the position. Since a non-Accountant recruiter will typically perform the initial Resume review, avoid using obscure acronyms without the necessary explanation.


·      In general, basic job search techniques apply to landing an Accounting job.  So, make sure you include a Cover Letter with your Resume, do your follow-ups, and send your Thank You notes, etc. 


Attributes, Skills and Education Needed in Accounting:


·      Most Accounting work is now done electronically, instead of manually.  Whether you are working with Microsoft Excel or a specific Accounting software package, strong computer skills and aptitude is needed.


·      A successful person in the field of Accounting needs a strong aptitude for numbers and precise attention-to-detail.  Be prepared to share examples of your accuracy.


·      It is important to be a good problem-solver.  Errors will happen in any Accounting Department, but the ability to determine where an error was made and be able to fix it is an important skill.  Even better if you can catch it before it is submitted/processed!


·      Unless it is a very small company, there are usually multiple people in an Accounting Department.  The ability to work effectively with others is critical to a high-functioning unit.


·      When you are in the Accounting Department, you may come in contact with information that is confidential in nature.  This may be sales numbers, or how the company is forecasting for the month or quarter with profits.  It is crucial that the company will be able to implicitly trust you to keep this information confidential. 


·      Very few positions in this field do not require some type of college or university degree.

The requirements can range from a 2-year Community College degree for a clerical-type position, to a Masters Degree and Certification for a Certified Public Accountant (CPA). 


A career in Accounting can be a stable and rewarding career choice.  If you have the attributes and desire necessary, you may find yourself with the career you have desired.  For those, already in the Accounting field, consider some of the tips above to further propel your job search.


As always, best of luck in your job search.