Congratulations! You have acquired your accounting degree! Now what? Obviously, the ideal would be for you to land a job straight out of college, but this isn’t always as simple as it sounds. There are many factors that can make it difficult to find a job, such as lack of experience, low job availability where you would like to live, a weak economy, lack of connections and lack of resources. Here are a few tips for how to proceed after graduating in general, as well as some ideas for how to look for work.

1. Try to find an internship position

It may not be ideal now that you have entered the working world, but if you are struggling to find a job, accounting internships are a good way to gain experience. Furthermore, sometimes internships can lead to full-time job offers. Even if it is a field that you do not want to work in like tax or audit, toughing it out can having experience in those areas. Even if you’re only starting your journey in your 30s, don’t worry about it. There are plenty of others who switch careers or get a late start on tertiary education for personal reasons. Additionally, if you have any doubts, you can always try asking fellow accountants for feedback on r/accounting.

2. Improve your resume

A professional-looking, concise resume can make all the difference when a potential employer is going through a stack of resumes. Strange fonts and a busy design can be a distracting and unattractive read, even though it may look fancy. So, try to stick with a simple presentation like that of the ‘Wall Street Oasis.’ Also, don’t mention unnecessary details such as your home address, resume summary or soft skills. If you mention that you know photoshop, then they will expect you to be highly skilled in that area. This may backfire later, or even during the interview if they ask about it.

3. Keep sending out your resume

Companies get hundreds of applications, so don’t get disheartened if you don’t hear back from most of the places that you apply to. It is also important to keep track of the companies that you have already applied to and for which positions. Excel is a useful tool for this.

4. Network

Don’t be afraid to contact any friends, professors or former classmates to find out whether they know of opportunities. The worst that they can say is ‘no’. Attending conferences could also lead to opportunities. Online networking platforms such as LinkedIn are also a good way to put yourself out there. Reach out to both recruitment agents and HR departments of accounting firms to check whether they know of opportunities.

5. Work with a recruiter

Recruiters will help you tailor your resume according to the position that you are applying for. They will also help to give you interview tips and useful background information about the company. They can also offer you valuable advice on the types of jobs that might suit you. However, also try finding the right recruiter. Some are just looking to close and aren’t really in it for your best interests, meaning that they might try to force you to settle for a position that is way below your pay grade.

6. Work on your interviewing skills

Presentation is key and you only get to make a first impression once. So, check out YouTube videos, read blog posts and practice with friends. Look at your resume and try to plan ahead for answers on likely questions. For instance, hobbies, previous work experience choices, why you are interested in the position, what you know about the company and so on. If you have switched jobs a lot, you will also need to have reasonable answers for that as well.

7. Make a list of questions to ask at the interview

Coming prepared and showing an interest in how the company works will show the interviewer that you are serious about the position.  It will also give you a good idea of what to expect. Again, there are many dedicate posts about this online, as well as Reddit threads. But some good examples include:

  • ‘What will be my day-to-day responsibilities in the company?’
  • ‘Are there training and advancement opportunities in the company?’
  • ‘What would your ideal candidate look like?’
  • ‘Are your employees expected to work overtime?’
  • ‘How is the department structured?’
  • ‘What is the company’s management style?’

There are many others besides. You should also be sure to avoid asking bad questions, such as:

  • ‘What does this company do?’ – Do your research beforehand. It’s likely they will ask you why you want to work for the company, and you cannot answer if you don’t know what they are. It looks bad if you come to an interview that unprepared.
  • ‘Will you be contacting my references?’
  • ‘What would my position be?’ – Again, this is basic information that you should know this beforehand.
  • ‘How long must I work until I can take vacation days?’ – However, there are exceptions to this, such as if you are religious and cannot work on your holidays. In those cases, it would be good to offer a compromise upfront, such as by offer a willingness to work on public holidays and religious holidays that do not pertain to you such as Easter

8. Build relationships with your colleagues

Developing good team skills and camaraderie is important for many reasons. Firstly, people will be more tolerant of mistakes from someone who is friendly, accommodating and pulls their weight. Secondly, they will remember you later on and you never know when you might need their help. People skills are also important for promotions,  

9. Consider getting an advanced certification

Although this requires a great deal of investment, both financially and time-wise, it could give your resume the boost you need to get noticed. Furthermore, while the Certified Public Accountant (CPA) license is the gold standard, there are also other useful accounting certifications that may help you if you have already decided which accounting field you want to go into. However, if you are planning on sticking to private accounting, this may not be necessary for you. Sometimes experience and hard work are enough to eventually lead you to well-paid positions.

10. Make time for your hobbies

Certain fields of accounting are notorious for their crazy hours such as tax during tax season and crunch time for auditing. This is aside from other deadlines that come up. So, make sure to make time for your private hobbies. You need to have a space where you can unwind and destress. The same is true with your friends and family. Keep in contact at least by phone calls and try to make time to see them in person as often as you can, even if that is only every couple of months.

Bonus: Job sites

Some good sites for looking for jobs include:

  • Social media accounts of businesses
  • The career/jobs page of any company
  • Accountemps