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The past few years have not been great for many job-seeking accountancy and finance professionals. You need to be well-informed and ready for opportunities, so we’ve gathered together recruitment experts to give their career advice for the year ahead
'The role of the modern finance professional is a lot more complex than it once was. It’s not enough now to rely purely on your accounting skills and academic achievements. Employers need people who drive business growth, cut costs, and think strategically outside of their role and department.
'The broad nature of the ACCA Qualification puts you in a great position to meet such demanding and evolving business environments. Already, ACCA members are at the top levels of major global firms, generating new business, working alongside clients and involved in strategic decision making.
'The global recruitment market in 2014 is shaping up to be a far more positive environment than recent years. For many looking to get on the ladder, macroeconomic conditions will continue to shape a tight, competitive environment. Yet there is a continued scramble for top talent, with many employers bemoaning a lack of candidates with the desired communication skills, business acumen, commercial awareness and strategic thinking capabilities. Use your growing knowledge from your ACCA Qualification studies to set yourself apart, expand your skillset, attend CPD events, network, become a social media maverick, register your CV with ACCA Careers: these are all things that can give you the edge in what is a difficult market.'
'Accountants looking to take advantage of opportunities should make sure that their CV is up to date and continue to network, both online and off, to ensure that they are constantly connecting with peers within their industry and profession, should an opportunity arise. Likewise, speaking with a financial recruiter, even if you are not actively searching, will ensure that you’re aware of opportunities as they become available.'
Temping up the ladder
'For individuals looking for work, consider temporary opportunities as you’ll have the opportunity to demonstrate your skills and experience while on the job and position yourself for a permanent role if one becomes available.'
Know your value
'Robert Half also offers video clips on how to negotiate a salary and a promotion for those looking to increase their career potential.'
'Candidates must work on their presentation skills at every opportunity. Make sure you ask questions so that your audience understands what you are trying to explain – good communication should be two-way.'
No room for basic mistakes
'Above all, spell-check your CV and covering letter thoroughly before applying for a role.'
Show your potential
'Look at the skills that you do have and sell yourself on those. Employers are more risk averse in this climate and are looking for specific experience, but they are not short-sighted enough to miss out on potential if it is outlined in the right way. Use a positive tone and try to differentiate your experience by highlighting the relevant skills you feel it has afforded you, whether these are from professional or academic experience.'
Employers do not like…
'Dishonesty: either by stretching the truth on CVs or purely making things up. Do not lie on applications – you will be found out. Talk to a recruitment consultant about how best to phrase your experience if you are worried, but do not make anything up.'
Be seen in a snowstorm
'Online visibility is increasingly important in the jobs market. Make sure that you maintain an up-to-date and professional LinkedIn profile and that you utilise every section on it. For example, the skills part of it may seem a little long winded, but it is really important as it will bring your details up when potential employers and recruiters are looking to fill specific job vacancies.'
Networking… worth it?
'Absolutely, building effective professional relationships is key to job searching and this is in effect all that networking is. Make sure you are not overbearing in your approach to networking – do not simply request to connect with hundreds of random people on LinkedIn. Attend networking events where possible and use online forums and discussions, but make sure to build relationships with individuals based on personal interactions, either in person or over the internet.'
Keep calm and carry on
'Remain positive and upbeat about your search and your skills. Be focused and do not give up hope.'
'Show the desire to increase your knowledge, using practical examples.'
'Consider different career levels if possible. Show good communication and know how to position yourself.'
Learning never ends
'Improve your career chances by seeking a continued education (courses, extensions, MBAs) – especially in an environment of constant change.'
'Use the main tools (such as LinkedIn) and maintain the reliability of your details and recommendations.'
Best piece of career advice
'Always be transparent and be as professionally up to date as possible.'
Last updated: 4 Jan 2014
Use your growing knowledge from your ACCA Qualification studies to set yourself apart, expand your skillset, attend CPD events, network, become a social media maverick, register your CV with ACCA Careers: these are all things that can give you the edge in what is a difficult market.—Neil Johnson, ACCA Careers editor
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For individuals looking for work, consider temporary opportunities as you’ll have the opportunity to demonstrate your skills and experience while on the job and position yourself for a permanent role if one becomes available.—Phil Sheridan, Managing Director, Robert Half UK