The market for newly qualified accountants is the busiest it has been in my five years working in recruitment and you will certainly have some good options available to you should you decide to leave practice. The first job you take outside of practice is an important decision to make, and it is a choice that you should put some serious thought and consideration in to.
What kind of job would I like to do?
As a newly qualified ACA accountant the experience will be attractive to a variety of different employers. Rather than just having the mind-set to take any job that is not external audit, decide what kind of jobyou would genuinely like to do. There is the option to move into financial accounting/financial reporting/financial analysis/internal audit etc. jobs. The first job you move into outside of practice may shape your career for the next 3-5 years. Given the amount of time you have spent studying, working long hours etc. in external audit, it is important that you move into a job type that you will genuinely enjoy and hopefully stay in for a number of years.
What kind of industry would I like to work in?
If you have spent 3-4 years working in audit you will have first-hand knowledge of companies in a variety of industries. Think about companies that you have audited that you would actually like to work for yourself and then target a job in a similar organisation. If you decide to continue your career in Dublin you are lucky in that there are a number of large employers in most industry sectors including Banking, Insurance, Funds and Multinationals. Even Irish owned SMEs and start-up companies are starting to hire again. It will be easier to secure a job in the industry sector that you audited but some companies will see that your skills are transferable and will offer you an opportunity to change sectors. Speak to your recruiter about which companies will give you this option.
Should I stay working in practice beyond my training contract?
Whilst a significant percentage of accountants working in audit will want to leave practice as soon as their training contract expires a lot will want to stay working in practice. This can be a good option for some candidates. You can progress to managerial level, manage larger teams and be exposed to more senior stakeholders in a variety of different companies. This will be advantageous to some candidates in the long term. However if you are not going to be exposed to anything new by staying on in your current role then it may be better to move on.
There is also the option to move to a different accountancy practice on completion of your training contract. Big 4/Top 7 audit firms are always looking to hire good auditor seniors. Changing accountancy practices may give you exposure to new clients and may give you an opportunity to audit clients in a different sector than you are used to. If you qualified in a Top 20 practice it may be a good idea to get a year experience in a Big 4 audit firm if the ultimate aim is to get a role in one of the big multinational/financial service organisations.
What is most important to you in a new job?
All candidates will have different motives for leaving practice. For some they will want to join an organisation big enough whereby they can constantly progress and develop over the next 5-10 years. Others will prefer to go into a role that will offer more variety and more of a mental challenge. For some newly qualified accountants after spending three years working 60 hours a week they will just want a job that will allow them to finish work every day at 5pm. Whatever your motivation, there will be different options available.
If using a recruiter be honest with them and this will result in you interviewing with the most appropriate companies for your skill set. Also speak to colleagues in years above you in practice who have left to join companies in industry as they will be able to give you first-hand information as to whate roles outside of practice really are like.
Get your CV updated
Until you interview your CV is the only document you have to describe your skills and experience. Despite all the resources available to candidates (CV templates, CV advice online etc.) some qualified accountants still cannot prepare good CVs. Your CV should do you justice and describe all relevant experience you have built up over your training contract. If you are unsure about CV layout or what to include then speak to a recruiter directly and they can help you with this process. In general your CV should be clear, concise, easy to read and very informative (facts and figures). If you have trained in audit list the different clients you have audited and describe their size (turnover, number of employees etc.) and industry sector. Recruiters see hundreds of CVs from Big 4 candidates every year and most CVs look very similar – what distinguishes one from the other is the different clients that you have worked on. Your audit clients will also be the first thing employers will look at when reviewing your application along with your educational record.
In certain cases your recruiter may get you to tailor your CV for an application to a specific role – this will significantly increase your chance of securing an interview.
Meet with a recruiter
Meeting with a recruiter in person will be much more beneficial that just having a phone call with them. At an initial meeting you can have an open and honest conversation around what kind of job you actually want. This should result in you only being put forward to jobs you would be genuinely interested in rather than being submitted to ten different jobs just because your skill set is desired by the client. Applying to jobs of no appeal to you is a waste of the recruiter’s and the client’s time and does not reflect well on you either. By meeting with the recruiter at the beginning of your job search you will also distinguish yourself from the other hundred candidates coming out of training contracts at the same time. A good recruiter will also be able to match you to a company environment that will suit your personality as well as your skill set.
Don’t wait for someone to approach you – be proactive and contact a recruitment consultant yourself. It is nice to be approached about a job and feel as though you are being headhunted for a specific role, however often the recruiters with the most jobs for you will not have the time to search through LinkedIn for hours to find suitable candidates. By registering your details with a good recruitment consultant you will ensure that you are kept aware of all suitable job opportunities that may arise. Even if you are not looking for a role immediately the best way to find out about good jobs is by having a relationship with the recruiter that will be speaking to these companies. Also, recruiters that have worked with companies for a number of years tend to be able to influence clients into meeting candidates that they have met and can personally recommend.
By applying to a job through an agency you should be able to gain a competitive advantage over applicants that apply directly. Your recruiter will be able to give you advice about the company, the work environment, the hiring manager and also be able to conduct interview preparation with you. They will also be able to keep you better informed of the timelines involved in the process and will be able to ensure the hiring manager makes a quick decision if you are interviewing with a couple of different companies.
What salary can I get?
Naturally the salary you attain in a new job is an important factor when making your decision about what company to join. Luckily as a qualified ACA accountant in Dublin you can expect to receive a good salary in the current market. Companies in different industries pay different various salaries so have a look at salary guides for an idea of what you may be eligible for. Sometimes companies will offer lower salaries at first but with a view to increasing your remuneration and benefits as you progress whereas other companies will offer a higher salary initially but will offer no salary increase or no room for career progression over the next three years. Be open minded regarding salary and listen to the advice of your recruitment consultant as well as from fellow colleagues, managers etc. The first job you take outside of practice is an important decision and taking a short term view in terms of salary expectations may not be the best move in the longer term. Also, in reality a couple of grand difference in salary is going to make little difference to your monthly take home pay.
Should I take a contract job?
A lot of candidates will only consider permanent jobs when looking to change. Whilst this is understandable in some circumstances (mortgage application etc.), ruling out contract roles can seriously limit your options. The majority of large multinational or financial services companies in Dublin tend to offer contract roles initially. In general these tend to be permanent in all but name and will be extended beyond the initial fixed term contract. Again your recruiter will be able to offer you advice around which companies will make you permanent and which ones won’t.
I plan on going travelling after my training contract ends
On completion of a training contract or within a year of qualifying, a large percentage of accountants will go abroad to travel or to work. Depending on your personal circumstances you may be better off staying in your current practice for six months before going away whereas in the majority of cases it may be good to try and get 6-12 months industry experience before going away as this will make your CV look more marketable when you decide to return to Ireland. Of course this is dependent on individual circumstance and jobs on offer.
If I fail my FAEs?
If you fail your exams you will still have a significant number of options available to you. The first thing you should consider is whether you plan on repeating your ACA exams the following year. If this is the case, the best option will likely be to stay working in practice as no company in industry will offer you the amount of study leave that you will get in practice. If you are unhappy in your role maybe consider joining another audit firm that will offer a new environment and new clients to work with.
A good option for a lot of candidates is to change to ACCA. This is still a prestigious qualification that will be hugely beneficial to you over the course of your career. You will be exempt from most exams and should be able to qualify within a year. The exam format is much friendlier to people in full time jobs than ACA exams are. The majority of accountants that train in industry will undertake ACCA exams rather than ACA ones. If you want to stay doing ACA maybe consider taking a contract role until next summer and then take a couple of months off to study for your FAEs once again.
You will still have lots of options available to you to move into industry. You have the same amount of work experience as those that are qualified and your skillset will still be in demand to employers. You may not command the same salary that qualified accountants can but you will still get a good package. You will also have a year’s experience in industry (rather than another twelve months in practice) and when you qualify next year you should be able to command the same salary as your work colleagues who pass the exams this year.
If you have any questions on your present position or are interested in roles that Sigmar has on offer please contact our team – firstname.lastname@example.org or call 01-4744600.
Posted by Recruitment Consultant, Sigmar on 4 December 2017
3 Useful Ways to Organise Yourself & Get Things Done
3 Useful Ways to Organise Yourself & Get Things Done
Being organised is a very important skill and it’s one that anyone can learn. If you feel like you are overwhelmed in work, then you need to start being organised. Here are 3 useful ways you can start today. Start Your Day Right In work it can often happened that you are overrun with many different tasks and it can be difficult to know how to structure your day productively. Come in 15-30 minutes before you start work to organise yourself. Make sure your desk is tidy and you lay out all the tasks you need in a notebook or using an online tool such as Google Tasks or Google Calendar. Write a list of what you need to do today and a list of the deadlines you have for the week. Taking these 15 minutes to do this in the morning will make your day more productive and help you to get more done throughout the day. Prioritise Once you know what you want or need from your work day, the next step is to learn what tasks in your day are the most important. One of the key elements to being organised is being able to prioritise the important stuff and know what needs your time. A handy way to decide this is using the below table. For every task you need to complete, you should evaluate each one by placing it in the below table. You should never have more than two priorities that fall in the box of ‘urgent and important’. The rest fall under the other categories of ‘important and not urgent’, ‘urgent but not important’ and ‘not urgent and not important’. Always structure your time around the urgent and important things. Get inspired with this short film of a professor explaining to his class the importance of prioritising and using one's time wisely. Ask For Help Most days you will handle your workload just fine on your own but every now and again when you see your to-do list is particularly long sometimes the best (and only) way to get things done is to ask your boss or a colleague for help. If you have too many urgent and important items on your to-do list, you should go to your boss to look at delegating some of your workload or adjust deadlines. Missing a deadline is much worse than letting someone know in advance that you won’t be able to get something done.
5 Ways to Handle Constructive Criticism at Work
5 Ways to Handle Constructive Criticism at Work
While many like to believe we are great at our jobs, the truth is no one is perfect. In order to grow and improve we all need (and should welcome) constructive criticism. If you find yourself in a situation where your work is being critiqued, here is some advice on how you should approach the situation. 1. Don’t React Firstly, when receiving constructive criticism, do not react! This might be difficult because you may have spent a lot of time on a particular piece of work and felt quite proud of it, so the last thing you expected was to be told it’s not good enough. Sit back and collect the information you are being given and allow yourself the time to react appropriately. It’s crucial to let your boss give you their feedback. 2. Remember the Importance of Feedback Constructive criticism should never be taken personally. Feedback is so important for your learning and development. The person giving you the feedback is not out to get you, they are simply explaining how you can do better. 3 Ask Questions This is probably the most important thing for you personally. You need to ask as many questions as you need to fully understand where you have gone wrong and how you can do better going forward. This is the best way to avoid making the same mistake again. Learning how you can improve your work is the whole point of being given the constructive criticism. 4 Say Thank You You should always thank your boss for giving you feedback that you can learn from. It also lets your boss know that you’re open minded and willing to learn. Being grateful will encourage your boss to give you more feedback which will help you progress in your role. 5 Follow Up You may have agreed and accepted a solution during this conversation with your boss, but if it was a larger issue, you may wish to request a follow up meeting. This will give you time to process the feedback, get some advice from others and think about solutions for going forward. Constructive criticism can be the best way to learn our weaknesses in the workplace. Even though you may feel a little disheartened, try to remember the benefits this feedback will have for your role.
Why Job Seekers Should Use Recruiters
Why Job Seekers Should Use Recruiters
In this modern era of hyper-connectivity, with smart devices that are so smart you can be contacted through your wrist watch, is there value in using a third party to help you find a job or are you better off going it alone? Well, with the global market seemingly more turbulent than ever and every company sending out similar soundbites on why they are the best, it’s increasingly hard to know what path to choose as a jobseeker. Jobseekers have never had it better with companies creating novel ways to attract new talent. Whether it’s a mini-golf course on the roof, an onsite masseuse, gym membership or yoga classes, it shows companies are aware of employee turnover and that the job itself isn’t enough to attract and retain talent anymore. However, on the other side of things, a job for life is clearly a thing of the past for most of the labour market, unless you’re a health professional or a teacher. This means more diversity in a person’s career, certainly among millennials, under 25’s and graduates in particular. This also means more disruption in previously stable careers and the need to diversify people’s skills and keep an eye on the market. It’s a dynamic environment in recruitment with marketing and internal recruiters partnering to attract the best staff, so why use a recruiter? Industry Knowledge Most recruiters specialise in one niche of the market and as a result become market experts within their sector and can give you a complete roadmap to the lay of the land. Going it solo will mean that you will have to do your own research about each company you are applying for who will each have their own unique requirements. Your recruiter, however, will be able to provide you with a company background, describe the team structure, the key aspects of the role and what exact experience the hiring manager is looking for. A recruiter will help you decide whether the position is for you and keep you updated as things develop in the market you’re in. Recruitment agencies provide a completely cost-free service to jobseekers. They only charge the companies hiring, so why not have unlimited access to the inner workings of the company you’re applying to and assistance for free? Direct Line To The People In Power Recruiters have a direct line to HR directors and hiring managers. Why not make the most of this? With a direct line to the people in power, you get the inside information on what makes a company, a department or even a specific job so exciting. If you have high goals of progression or want to work on a set type of projects, you won’t find this information through a job advert and may not realise if you have made a mistake until you’re in the job. Another aspect a recruiter can help with is when it comes to negotiating salary, the recruiter will know exactly what can be negotiated and keep things on track. You can focus on performing in the interview and the recruiter can handle all the awkward/difficult conversations. Your Own Personal Advocate Who doesn’t want someone singing their praises? With a recruiter you have your own personal cheerleader getting face time with people in power and telling them in no uncertain terms that you were made for this job and could do it blindfolded like Sandra Bullock in Birdbox. In all seriousness, a recruiter is trained find out your best qualities in relation to the job and make sure you don’t get missed by the hiring company. They can also help with CV re-design and know the best ways to catch the eye of the employer. Also, as mentioned, people are jumping jobs a lot more now which has previously been a serious red flag for employers. However, your recruiter can help explain your motivations and elaborate on your CV in minute detail to get over the initial hurdle of pre-screening. Practice Makes Perfect Interviews are a minefield. Say the wrong thing or react the wrong way and you will be stuck in no man’s land with no way back. Nike have a motto “Think training’s hard? Try losing”. Every day a recruiter prepares people for interviews, so let the experts show you how to ace every interview. They have the practice that can make you perfect! They will already have given you the background to the job, the hiring managers and the company, so the next logical piece of the puzzle is on the interview process. Recruiters will have reams of documentation but will always tailor the preparation for interviews to each person to maximise the value. The difference between you and the next person competing for the job is usually a small margin. That could mean that advice from a recruiter, who has placed plenty of candidates in jobs, could be the reason you succeed in getting the role. The future is bright for job seekers with more opportunities than ever. Partner with a recruiter who knows the industry, the companies hiring and who can help make the jobs market easier to navigate.
How to Prepare for an Executive Level Interview
How to Prepare for an Executive Level Interview
Job interviews can be nerve wracking and good advice can be hard to come by when you’re applying for senior management roles. Our recruitment consultant, Louisa Poinboeuf has devised a list of tips for anyone interviewing for an executive level role. Guaranteed Interview Questions A job interview is designed to test you. You're asked questions about yourself and your experience and your response is supposed to show the interviewer how you can handle being put on the spot. However, this isn't always the case, because there are always guaranteed questions that you can expect which you can prepare for in advance. Tell Me About Yourself? This question can strike terror into the heart of even the most experienced person. It is designed to test your ability to handle an unstructured and possibly unexpected line of questioning. Your response will show the interviewer how articulate and self-assured you are. As with all interviews, preparation is key here, ensure that you have a 2-3 minute narrative prepared to demonstrate your strongest professional qualities. Start with your most recent and relevant employment and explain why you are well suited for the role. Practice this narrative. Try to avoid asking in the moment, “what do you want to know?”. Instead, when preparing, think of what the interviewer will be most interested to hear about and match your experience and qualifications to what the job specifications are. How Do You Explain your Job Success? Be honest without sounding arrogant. Use observations that other people have made about your work strengths or talents. Why Do You Want This Job? Be able to demonstrate why you have a genuine interest in applying to this company over any other company. What is it about them and this opportunity that grabbed your attention? What are your ambitions? What do you want from this role? What can you bring to the role? If taking on this role will involve you moving location, be able to demonstrate clearly why this is not an issue for you or your family (if relevant). It will always concern an employer if an applicant chooses to relocate to an area where they don’t have an established network of friends or family, so be prepared to explain your reasons for moving if this is relevant to you. Why Did You Leave Your Last Job? If there is any job hopping on your CV, have a very clear reason why you moved on from each role. It is expected that any strong Senior Executive would stay with a company for a number of years (minimum 3) before moving on. If this hasn’t happened be able to explain why. What Is Your Greatest Weakness? Prepare for this question. Demonstrate that you’re able to admit responsibility and accept criticism. Give an honest answer and be able to show the interviewer that you’ve learnt from experience and are still working on this weakness. What Do You Do Outside Of Work? Regardless of whether you are an intern or a CEO, every employer wants to know what type of personality they may be working with. You can tell them about any hobbies, interests, where you live, volunteering activities, what you like to read and whether you like to travel etc. If you can demonstrate that you live a good quality of life that is well balanced you will come across as a fit, healthy and happy candidate. Do Thorough Research Delve into the organisation’s goals, culture, strengths and weaknesses. You can utilise social media platforms like Glassdoor, LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter etc. as well as the company’s official website. Consider conducting an in-depth SWOT analysis of the company. Be aware of recent press releases, news stories, annual reports and competitors (and what the competitors are doing). Research the current team and key stakeholders. Build Rapport Build a rapport with your interviewer and get your personality across. Personality fit with the organisation is key and how you communicate with recruiters and HR throughout a process will demonstrate how well you manage people. Stories And Examples Stories of your success and specific examples are key, these are what interviewers will remember most after an interview and are likely to be what is quoted most to the rest of the recruitment team. Have examples prepared that illustrate your strongest professional qualities e.g. leadership, business development, strategy etc. Tell Me About A Situation Where You Did Not Get Along With A Direct Manager Be honest! Everyone has had disagreements with a boss and saying otherwise would look suspicious. Be able to explain what your opinion was at the time and that you were also able to take a step back and consider the other person’s opinion. Tell Me About A Time You Failed Again, be honest! If you can’t give an example of this the interviewer might determine that you don’t have a high volume of experience. How did you recover from the failure? What was your decision-making process? What did you learn from this? What would you do differently now? Demonstrate that you’ve been able to turn this negative experience into a positive learning outcome. Ask questions The type of questions you ask will make you stand out from other applicants, do your homework and have interesting questions prepared e.g. ask why the previous employee moved on from this role. Just like any level interview, it's important to be yourself. Try to stay calm in the interview and be honest about your experience. At the end of the day, you know the answers to the questions because you'll be talking about yourself and once you know a bit about the company you should get on well. Good luck and if you have any questions, be sure to talk to your recruitment consultant.