The accounting profession is always in demand. Bull markets, bear markets, recessions and expansions — every economic situation has a need for accountants. Everyone, from businesses and organizations to individuals, must pay their taxes, balance their books and assess potential investments. That’s one of the reasons accounting is a popular career path.
However, this popularity can also mean intense competition for individual jobs. Whether you’re a soon-to-be or recent graduate or an experienced professional looking for a change, you’ll need to get noticed by an accounting recruiter if you want a shot at securing a specific position.
So, how do you get their attention and give accounting recruiters a positive perception of you and your skills? Below, we’ll go through how to make a good impression on accounting recruiters.
How to get noticed by recruiters
Know what you want
Before you even begin researching potential accounting jobs or connecting with recruiters, spend some time thinking about what you want in a job. Not just the title, but every aspect of your target position. There are the logistical concerns: salary, geography, PTO, schedule, benefits, etc. Then there’s the work environment: large accounting firm vs. smaller employer, established company vs. new kid on the block, big accounting team vs. small, tight-knit department, more relaxed vs. more reserved atmosphere.
That’s not all. You’ll also want to consider opportunities for advancement, and whether you’d be interested in filling a managerial or leadership role. Perhaps you have a specific niche or accounting area you’re especially interested in or hold a certification or specialized skill set you want to make use of in your day-to-day duties.
By having specific criteria around your next role, you’ll be able to give accounting recruiting firms clear information about the types of positions you want. That means you won’t waste time on interviews for jobs you have no interest in or that don’t meet your minimum conditions. Remember, your job search is all about finding your ideal job.
Put your best foot forward on LinkedIn
If you’re wondering how to get your resume noticed by recruiters, make sure you’re investing time in updating your LinkedIn profile. Many accounting recruiters search LinkedIn for potential job candidates, so make sure you’re making the best possible impression with your profile. Include a current professional headshot, a complete list of your previous positions, your education and any certifications you hold. You can even include volunteer experience and references from coworkers or clients.
However, the most important part of your LinkedIn profile is your headline. If you go to your LinkedIn profile, you’ll find the headline section right under your name. If you don’t edit it, it will display your current position and company. But you should edit it. The headline is the most-searched section on LinkedIn, which means the right keywords here can have a huge impact on getting you noticed by the right recruiters. You’re limited to 120 characters, but that’s plenty of space for one or two well-selected keywords. Think of your headline as a brief personal branding summary rather than a simple statement of your title and where you work.
Showcase your niche
If you’re more of an accounting generalist, that’s perfectly fine; there’s always a need for well-rounded accountants. However, if you do have a specific niche or area of expertise, highlight that in your resume and LinkedIn profile. Recruiters are often looking to fill positions within niche fields, and those roles often come at a premium. In addition, they tend to offer better pay and greater job security, since finding a replacement is more difficult.
Whether your specialty is auditing, financial analysis, forensic accounting, accounting for small businesses, corporate accounting or any combination, remember to showcase that in your resume. If you have a certification related to your specialization, like CIA for Certified Internal Auditor or CFE for Certified Fraud Examiner, make sure that designation is clearly visible on any professional profiles or job application materials.
Have references ready
Even before you start reaching out to recruiters (or accountancy recruitment firms reach out to you), it’s helpful to have a list of references on hand. Recruiters ask for references early in the application process, and you don’t want to delay your candidacy because you haven’t reached out to your references yet. By asking someone to act as your reference, you’re letting them know they might be contacted soon, so they won’t be surprised when a recruiter calls or emails them. Plus, they’ll be prepared to share all the good things about you and your work.
If you’re a soon-to-be or recent grad without professional experience, don’t fret. A professor or teaching assistant (TA) is a fine option for a reference. For those with work history, former bosses and coworkers are your best options.
Don’t forget the basics
Once you’ve made contact with an accounting recruiter and they’ve invited you for a chat, you might be so excited that you overlook the basics of interviewing etiquette. No matter what type of position you’re looking to secure, remember to do the following:
- Arrive early for the interview or conversation (either in-person or via video chat)
- Dress professionally
- Be well-groomed
- Research the company or agency beforehand
- If meeting in person, print multiple copies of your resume
- If meeting virtually, make sure your device is charged and has a strong internet connection
- If meeting virtually, test your camera and microphone beforehand
- Have a notebook and pen ready
- Treat everyone you meet with professionalism
- Prepare a few questions for the recruiter
Get to know your recruiter
In some cases, a recruiter may want to meet with you without a specific job opening in mind. After getting to know you better, they’ll have a better idea of the types of positions that match your skill set. These conversations are less formal than an interview, which means you’ll have the opportunity to connect with your recruiter. Feel free to be yourself and get to know your recruiter on a more personal level. Ask about their own experience in the field, their process, what drew them to the job, etc. That way, when an appropriate position becomes available, you’ll be top-of-mind as a potential candidate.
Prepare for the interview process
Once you do secure an interview for a specific position, the most important thing you can do is prepare — and then prepare some more. Research the types of questions you’re likely to be asked and practice your responses. You can even have a friend conduct a mock interview.
Also, be ready for behavioral interview questions: the ones that start with “Tell me about a time when …” Try to answer these types of questions using the STAR technique:
- Situation: What situation were you in?
- Task: What task did you need to complete?
- Action: How did you complete that task?
- Result: What was the outcome?
Say thank you
Whether you just had a casual, “get to know you” conversation or a formal first-round job interview with your recruiter, don’t forget to send a brief letter or email thanking them for their time. An email is perfectly fine, although a handwritten note never hurts. In your thank-you message, try to include a specific aspect of the interview that you enjoyed or found thought-provoking. Recruiters meet with a lot of people, and this attention to detail will help you stand out.
Put your best foot forward
Finding a new (or your first) accounting job can be challenging and a bit stressful. However, a bit of preparation can go a long way toward helping you make an excellent first impression with accounting recruiters. Follow the steps above, and you may soon find yourself signing an official offer letter. Don’t forget — we have tons of resources available to guide you to the next level of your career.