Congratulations! You’ve made it through accounting school with that shiny new designation/degree and a ton of knowledge of accounting theory and practice. But now what?
Accounting is just like many other professions where there is a big adjustment period after finishing school and entering the work force. The path to your first job can depend on the specialty you may be interested in. That said, here are some common steps to getting that first accounting job.
Step 1: Clean up your social media profiles and online presence
Those college parties and even old high school embarrassing photos on Facebook may come back to haunt you. Most accounting firms do their research on new recruits – which often includes a sweep of your social media and online presence. Do a Google search of your name and ensure nothing suspect comes up. In fact, maybe start a blog and create a positive online background! Next, either turn your Facebook, Twitter & other social media accounts to strict privacy settings or make sure you go through and delete any inflammatory content immediately.
Step 2: Apply to all levels of accounting jobs
The biggest mistake a new graduate can make is being too selective in their applications. Don’t limit yourself. Apply to some of the big firms, government, and smaller companies. Casting a wider net will likely give you more options and practice doing interviews with a variety of people. Since your first accounting job likely won’t be very glamorous, think ahead to the career path you want to take. Most people these days don’t stay at the company they first started at. Think of your first job as a stepping-stone and practical learning tool.
Step 3: Use LinkedIn and Your Connections
Make sure to keep a Linkedin profile current and up to date with all your accomplishments. Even go a step further and start posting interesting articles on accounting there – look eager and excited about your upcoming career. Recruiters will definitely be checking in on you through Linkedin. Choose a handful of places you would like to find work and add their hiring managers as contacts. Most jobs aren’t even posted. You want to be top of mind when there is a vacancy. Life is about connections and relationships. School doesn’t really teach this. Get out and network. Cliché? Sure, but so important in starting your career and a great reputation.
Step 4: Informal interviews
A great technique is to show interest in potential employers and companies. Government staffers love this approach too. Use your research skills to find a contact where there may be potential job vacancies. Find their contact info and send them a quick email note. Tell them you’re very interested in learning more about what they do and about the company’s culture etc. Most experienced managers are busy – but often will take the time to chat with you anyways. In terms of developing important relationships, this is a great tool.
Step 5: Follow-up
One of the biggest mistakes applicants can make is not following up on their job applications. If you are just filling out online applications and doing nothing else, your chances of getting hired are very slim. I’ve seen countless graduates get frustrated and depressed when no one gets back to them about their applications. If you’ve followed the steps above and send a quick follow up note about your application and interest, you can get that interview. From there, an entry-level position shouldn’t be difficult to get with your education and training.
Congratulations on finishing school and good luck getting that all important first job! Use our accounting job search tool to find the latest jobs near you.