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Qualified Accountant

Advice For Newly Qualified Accountants

Qualified Accountant

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 – accountancy@sigmar.ie or call 01-4744600.

Posted by Recruitment Consultant, Sigmar on 4 December 2017

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Social Media For Business 101

Social Media For Business 101

Now the most diligent of readers will recall a blog we posted a few weeks ago about the LinkedIn, how to get started and its many benefits. In the introduction, we discussed how LinkedIn has been able to stay the course of the ever-changing social media world and has kept its function and purpose focused while other platforms dilute there USP with too many features. Contrary to this, research has shown that different types of content perform better on different platforms, thus showing that social media has yet to become fully indistinguishable. A company must maintain a strong social profile for a number of reasons, such as advertising a product, building a brand, engaging with customers, providing updates, and strengthening reputation. So, with this in mind, we’re going to strip everything down to basics and highlight the key social media channels a company should use, what to post, and why you should use them. Now there are a many different platforms to explore, so we’ll start with the four most obvious, and then revisit this concept on another blog. So, if we’re starting with the most popular social media platforms, it seems only right we begin with… Facebook At the time of writing this, the population of Earth sits around 7.753 billion people. Facebooks active user count sits at around 2.934 billion, meaning around 36.9% of the Earths population are Facebook users. I’ll give you a moment to digest that one The point of this somewhat sinister metric is that you would be hard pressed to find somebody that hasn’t used or even heard of Facebook. The Meta company as a whole havs dominated the internet space for a long time, and with their recent plans to move forward to Web 3, they are showing no signs of slowing down. With this in mind, it would be wise for a company to establish a presence on Facebook. Not only is it easily the biggest platform in terms of active users, thus leading to fruitful marketing opportunities, it also supports a wide range of media formats, with the option of linking other social channels to your Facebook content. How You Should Use Facebook Facebook is a great platform to provide information and updates to your clientele, and with a character limit of 63,206, you have plenty of space to play with, however just because you can, doesn’t mean you should. Most people aren’t going to read a massive document of information on social media, so use Facebook to convey information about the company in a max 500-word format. You won’t be penalised for using images or videos either, and with Meta’s Business Manager feature, you can ascertain insights and important analytics about how your posts are performing and engaging with users. Pros Massive active user count Business Analytics Supports multiple media formats High character count Cons Market is becoming saturated Lack of understanding of paid promotion can lead to loss of funds Instagram Continuing with Metas internet Monopoly, Instagram is another fantastic tool for building a brand identity and further engaging with your customers. Given the expansive range of brands, accounts, and content, a ‘slightly less formal’ approach is encouraged.  As a visual platform, Instagram is the place for showcasing your products or services with photos or videos. On the app, you can share a wide range of content such as photos, videos, Stories, reels, live videos, and IGTV for longer-form videos. How You Should Use Instagram Now you’re still trying to build a reputable brand, so hold fire on the Friday Night Cocktail Hour videos (unless your brand is a bar), however, we encourage you to explore your creative flair with your content. Keep your brand colours and design present, by try to get the context of your updates across in visual form. About to launch a new product? Share an exciting reveal photo. Staff day out? Share a few pictures of them having a good time. National saint day or celebration? Find a way for your company to celebrate and mark the event. As a brand, you can create an Instagram business profile, which provides you with rich analytics of your profile and posts and the ability to schedule Instagram posts using third-party tools. You should also take advantage of Instagram’s Story feature to further advertise your posts and to keep your followers engaged with daily content Pro’s Very visual More freedom to post Strengthen branding Use of stories for to keep daily engagement Con’s Less optimised to convey detailed information Danger of being ‘lost in the feed’ depending on post time Bots Twitter For a period of time, Twitter was THE hot social platform to use. 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Pro’s Format easily shared across other platforms Monetisation from original content Con’s Algorithm can cause viewership to drop Consistency is needed to build

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The Benefits Of Contract Work

The Benefits Of Contract Work

The jobhunting period can at times feel quite negative, and many people will be put off contract work as they know they have a date where they will be out of employment after the role expires. Also, jumping between different industries in quick succession can prove a challenge for the Wallflowers in this blogs audience. However, Contract work does have benefits that should not be overlooked both to the short and long-term trajectory of your career. Here are a number of reasons why you should accept contract as well as some added benefits you may not have considered.   Make Connections The nature of contract work dictates that unless you’re offered a permanent position, you will be moving between places of work every 6 - 12 months. The benefit of this, is that you are likely to become acquainted with many business leaders, executives, CEOs, and industry experts along the way. This will prove invaluable as building your contact list of reputable business leaders will provide new connections, long lasting business relationships and an impressive list of references for your next employer to contact. In a world where a person’s experience in the field can be the deciding factor in being chosen for interview, having connections to add to your credibility will only ever benefit your application   Find your job passion It is not uncommon for young professionals to work a variety of roles before settling into a more permanent fulfilling role. This method can provide a multitude of valuable experience, references, and insights into the nature of the industry. Contract work is a good way to dip your toe into the pool of the industry and find out if you are best aligned with the culture and work involved in the industry.   Salary Contracted roles will get you better pay. They offer a higher basic salary in lieu of a benefits package. You can make your experience really work to your advantage. Employers are typically willing to pay you generously, providing you meet their requirements, if you solve their problem or need quickly. Employers tend to really value experience, since they want to bring onboard someone who can jump right in and hit the ground running.   Faster Employment Now this of course does not cover all contract work, and you shouldn’t apply for a contract position assuming you’re going to be accepted by 9:30 and start work at 10:00. However, the creation of a contract role may have resulted in a sudden urgency and vacation that needs to be filled, so the onboarding of contracts does move faster than permanent roles.   More Freedom As you are not bound by the standard contracts of the business, you have more negotiating room when discussing hours, pay and location. You may have been brought into the contract role to assist with a sudden influx of work, therefore If you can assure your employer you will complete the work, you can choose working hours that fit for you, which can provide more time out of work for looking at more roles, building your professional profile and networking.   In Conclusion There are many business professionals who have built there who career around contract work and it’s not too hard to see why. Contract work offers more flexibility, better pay, more variation, and greater chance of networking and building a profile within the industry. Understanding the process and careful planning can ensure you are never out of work for lengthy periods of time, and with the flexibility contract work offers, you can use any free time to plan ahead once your contract expires. If you are keen to build your professional CV, build strong industry connections, gain experience and entertain a higher pay, contract work is definitely worth your time

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How To Prepare For Your Video Interview

How To Prepare For Your Video Interview

A few years ago, its fair to assume that 90% of your job interviews happened in a face-to-face capacity, normally in a small room resembling that of a doctor’s clinic. You would arrive in business fit and spend 30-45 minutes discussing your employment, skills and success with a company’s recruitment team or a manager. COVID put an immediate cease to this practice in 2020, and companies had to quickly adapt to the uncertainty of the pandemic in order to stay afloat. Non-essential businesses were closed unless they could operate from home, and those that had the ability to work from home had to adapt new methods of communication with their employees, using Teams, Zoom, Meet and online Document Sharing. 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If you are using your computer for both Audio In (Microphone) AND Audio Out (Speakers) feedback is likely to occur, and quality will drop. If this is your only option, be sure to mute your microphone when you aren’t talking. Most applications will present you with a screen to confirm your microphone and speakers in respective dropdown menus before you jump into the call, so make sure you have the right source selected. Grab a friend or family member for a 5-minute call to test your quality before the date and time of the interview.   Background and Lighting   Before you do anything, get rid of that auto generated beach Bahamas teams background, its not professional. If you are without a dedicated workstation in your home, then its time to improvise. Find a nice, neutral, and clean background free from any distractions or activity. The focus of the frame should be on you, and not the object in the background of your webcam shot. Lighting is worth special consideration and again may require some ingenuity if you don’t happen to have any photography studio style ring lights around. If you’re using a laptop, place a few light sources behind the laptop so they illuminate you without lens flare, or sit underneath a bright ceiling light. You want to make sure the video your interviewer sees isn’t dark and dingy, and they can see you’ve made an effort for the occasion to appear well groomed, presentable and neat. Speaking of which…   Appear Well Groomed, Presentable, and Neat   Dress for success, dress to impress. If you want respect, you must look respectable. If you were attending an in-person interview, chances are you would have made an effort to look smart, I should certainly hope so. A video interview still an interview and should be treated as such even if you are ‘attending’ in the comfort of your own home. We aren’t suggesting a suit and tails, nor an evening dress if you are a lady. However, in most cases, smart casual as a minimum should see you over the line. The best way to gauge the desired wardrobe is to think about the context of the job, chances are you already have an idea of the level or formality your employers are expecting. Remember to keep a good posture too.   Judge the Distance   You should be seated in such a way that the camera can see from the top of your head to the middle of your ribcage/upper chest. Don’t sit too far away, you risk your microphone not picking up on what you are saying. Neither do you want to be sat too close to the camera in such a way that your interviewer cannot see you. If you have followed the previous steps advice, you’ll want to make sure your interviewer can see the effort in appearance you have made.   Show Up Early   As the saying goes, its better to be an hour early than 5 minutes late. Now an hour may be slightly excessive for a video interview, however, get seated and be ready to go 10-15 minutes before the call. I personally would recommend 15 minutes, as this will give you 10 minutes to do your final camera and sound checks, practice your responses, and be ready to join the call 5 minutes early. Those 5 minutes will show your employer that you are punctual, scoring you points on your interview before conversation has even begun.   Use Notes Sparingly   Alright let’s not pretend that we don’t know what I’m referring too. One of the many advantages of a video interview over a face-to-face interview is being able to discreetly place reference notes and crib sheets out of the camera’s eye. Now we of course encourage you to know your onions before entering an interview situation, however if you really must refer to notes, do so sparingly. Consistently shifting your gaze away from your interviewer shows you are easily distracted; you appear disinterested in what the interviewer is saying and sooner or later they’re going to clock onto what you’re doing. Use notes like a PowerPoint i.e., bullet point information that will jog your memory rather than writing out sentences that, when reading them, appear to obvious to your interviewer.   In Conclusion   Now you may have noticed that this blog post contains information leading up to the first introduction of your interview rather than discussing how to conduct yourself as the interview progress.’ If you are looking for a more comprehensive guide on how to navigate through a job interview in the best manor possible, I highly recommend you read our blog ‘Mastering Body Language for your Job Interview’ which can be found here (LINK). However, be sure to adhere to the advice and preparation listed in this post, and you can enter the video interview in the best way possible.