Vacancy activity remains high in many locations around Australia as organisations replace departing staff, add to their teams in response to growth, update finance systems and establish finance teams in-house. A growing number of start-up businesses are also recruiting, while the ongoing demand for accountants within professional practice remains high.
Despite demand, the focus on securing the most useful person has seen employers become more mindful when recruiting. They won’t take a chance on a candidate who doesn’t meet all their criteria, meaning you need to work hard to prove you are the right person for the job and possess the necessary technical and soft skills along with the right cultural fit.
Once identified, employers move quickly to secure the right person – whether that’s in a temporary or permanent capacity.
Here are some tips to help you stand out and secure your next career-advancing move as an accountant.
Employers won’t consider you if you don’t match 100 per cent of a job’s requirements. So before applying, ask yourself if your skills and experience – including your industry background and software program experience – match those required for the job you want.
If not, look for opportunities to upskill yourself within your own time in order to be ready to apply the next time a similar job becomes available.
For example, some accountancy candidates are gaining IT programming skills in order to contribute to system improvement projects as companies become more automated.
Service your CV and online profiles regularly
Employers move quickly once they identify highly skilled, suitable talents. Regularly updating your CV and online profiles to reflect the progression of your skills, responsibilities and successes ensures you project an accurate representation of the value you offer. It also keeps you ready to apply the minute your dream job becomes available.
Make sure you present your experience in your CV in a detailed format. This includes covering all legislations you have come across as well as case studies showing the range and complexity of your clients if you work in professional practice, or employers if you work in commerce.
When updating your CV, add quantifiable achievements and results to give hiring managers the proof they want, that you've produced results. For example, a financial analyst could share an example of adding value, a business partner could describe how they delivered a particular bottom line result, a management accountant could demonstrate how they successfully made a strategic decision from a position of knowledge, and a cost accountant could share a cost-effective approach that proved successful.
Know your story
A unique selling proposition (USP) positions you in the candidate market based on your personal strengths, skills, experience and value. It spells out why an employer should select you above all other candidates.
If you don’t have a USP, identify it so you have an authentic and consistent story that communicates to hiring managers the value you could provide to them.
Be aware of your brand
From the blogs you write to your status updates, the people and organisations you follow to the content you like, your collective online activity personifies your ‘brand’. Hiring managers research you online so make your brand work for you by ensuring every update, tweet and share is aligned to your area of expertise, communicates what you’ve done and is true to who you are.
For example, a professional practice accountant could build a brand as an advisor rather than a pure number cruncher by using social media to demonstrate exceptional written communication skills, presentation skills, business acumen and, through LinkedIn endorsements, their ability to engage with clients.
Consider temporary roles
Temporary and contract roles can give your career a boost, and are increasing in the commercial sector. By undertaking a temporary assignment, you gain experience in new areas, industries or software programs, develop new contacts and increase your confidence.
Demonstrate your soft skills
To stand out, you need to be engaging and connect with your potential employer during an interview. Accountancy professionals also need to demonstrate strong people and communication skills. This is particularly important in the professional practice.
In addition, those professional practice accountancy professionals who can demonstrate business development skills are also valued. For example, the ability to build relationships, network, and keep to tight deadlines.
What if I receive a counter offer?
Accountancy professionals leave jobs for a range of reasons, which are seldom addressed by a counter offer.
If you receive a counter offer, it’s worth considering the reasons why you initially looked for a new role to begin with. They must have been serious and genuine since you not only looked for a new job, but applied, were interviewed and got accepted to a position elsewhere. These are not the actions of someone satisfied in their current role.
So while it’s flattering to receive a counter offer, look at the situation objectively and work out what’s most important to you.
David Cawley is Regional Director of Hays Accountancy & Finance nationally and also has full operational responsibility for regional offices in NSW, including Burwood, Hurstville, Liverpool, Parramatta and Wollongong. He has overall responsibility for over 35 staff based in these locations.
David began his career with Hays Education, based in the UK over 12 years ago. Here he was instrumental in establishing a number of new business areas and managed a number of outsourced public sector contracts. David has worked extensively across both the private and public sector within both the UK and Australia and has extensive experience within the temp and perm market.
David took the opportunity to relocate to Australia with Hays in August 2010. David has a BSc degree within Architecture and Town and Country Planning.