The global body for professional accountants

Make potential bosses see you won’t need constant scrutiny, says Calum Robson – with headcounts under pressure, show how your transition will be seamless

In today’s business environment, team leaders in companies large and small the world over are under intense pressure from senior management to justify any expenditure related to hiring staff. Finance professionals may still enjoy greater demand for their skills than those in other disciplines – but with revenues falling, margins being squeezed, and more people coming on to the jobs market, those who make recruitment decisions are in a strong position to raise the bar when screening candidates.

The simple things

How you convey your credentials and enthusiasm in your application is a good place to start. When sifting through hundreds of CVs, it’s far easier to find reasons to eliminate candidates than to grant them interviews. Spelling mistakes, poor grammar, and lack of clarity and meaning will conspire to reward your application with instant rejection; no employer wants to have to train someone in such fundamentals. So, if your written communication skills are weak, start practising to improve now. There are plenty of resources on the internet that will help – from the web pages of online versions of quality newspapers through to free exercises and quizzes.

Make every experience count

If you’re fortunate enough to have landed a finance job while you’re studying, then that’s great – not only will your experience help with your understanding of the syllabus, you’ll be building on your appeal to employers with each new task you take on.

But what if your work experience is confined to non-finance jobs, such as in a shop, restaurant or bar – or if you’ve only ever carried out voluntary work? The good news is that you’re likely to still have much to offer employers. The secret is to think about the aptitudes required in finance work and consider how your experience (even if your duties differ considerably from those of an accountant) might have prepared you well. Working in teams, handling money, managing time, dealing with customers, and coaching new or less experienced colleagues – those are skills that can be developed in many of the most basic part-time jobs. And by articulating those transferable skills, you’ll not only be more convincing as a candidate, you’ll be demonstrating the capacity to think laterally and make a business case – qualities vital in the finance leaders of tomorrow.

Finally, make full use of one-off opportunities to enhance your appeal to employers. Attend networking events. Register for free interview, CV, and presentation workshops staged by recruitment agencies and ACCA Careers. Apply for employer mentoring programmes. And keep mining the internet – if for no other reason than to keep reminding yourself of just how important employability is in what has become a fiercely competitive jobs market.

Last updated: 25 Apr 2015