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2021 Accounting Career Advice: New Year, New Job?

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Posted 3 months ago by ICAEW Insights

If finding a new job or getting a promotion is on your New Year’s resolution list, take a look at our expert tips on moving your accounting or finance career up a gear in 2021 and find out how ICAEW Jobs can support your search.

COVID-19 has caused untold upheaval to the jobs market and many, including accountants, have found themselves out of work and looking for a new role. It has also made many of us reassess our priorities and look closely at what we really want to be spending our time doing.

But what’s the best way to go about finding a new job during a pandemic? Simon Gray, ICAEW Chartered Accountant, former recruiter and author of Super Secrets of Successful Executive Job Search shares his 2021 job tips and insights with us.

Is it a good time to be looking for a new accounting job?

With so many out of work, you may be wondering whether looking for a new accounting job right now is a good idea. Speaking at ICAEW’s Financial Controller’s update in December, Gray said: “Now is always the best time. Organisations are always on the lookout for skilled and talented people.”

Helen Jones, Head of ICAEW Jobs, confirms that the number of roles being advertised on the ICAEW Jobs board is now back up to pre-COVID levels. She says: “I've seen an increase in candidates recently, which shows people are starting to look for jobs again. There are actually huge opportunities at the moment and in the past few weeks I’ve had a lot of new roles become available.”

How to stand out from the crowd

With each accountancy and finance job vacancy often attracting hundreds of applicants, finding ways to stand out has never been more important.

Gray says: “The way you stand out is not through your CV. Standing out means doing something different to everyone else. Think hard about the sector or organisation you’d like to work in and think about the value you can add. Then approach senior decision-makers within those organisations (through LinkedIn or even a letter) and engage in a conversation about how you can help their organisation. That could lead to an opportunity now or at least make you memorable for the future.”

When you are applying for an advertised vacancy, Gray explains you can improve your chances of making the shortlist by following up with a phone call, even just to check the CV has been received. Or, better still, request an informal call with one of the interviewers ahead of the selection process. He says: “No one else is likely to have done that. It immediately puts you in a position to do two things: to stand out as being proactive and to get intelligence as to information you might need for the interview process.”

How to secure a promotion

Maintaining an understanding of what’s going on across your organisation can be tough when you’re operating remotely but remaining visible and maintaining your awareness of business activity can benefit you greatly. 

ICAEW member Amy Griffith, Business Finance Partner at British Council, who has worked remotely in many of her past finance roles says: “It’s about getting exposure to senior management. It’s also important to demonstrate strategic insight: to show people you’re operating at the level above where you’re currently working. It’s not about talking the most in meetings, it’s about listening and providing those insights.”

Griffith also recommends joining online events and networking opportunities to stay visible when working remotely.

How can ICAEW Jobs help with your accounting job search?

ICAEW Jobs provides support for job hunters and ICAEW members looking to develop their finance careers.

The site features a members-only job board with around 500 live jobs, from entry-level roles to senior positions. You can register to receive tailored job alerts and join the 38,000 members who have already uploaded their CV.

ICAEW Jobs also hosts a blog and can help you arrange career coaching through CABA. Later this month, ICAEW Jobs is launching a course of lunchtime sessions to support members searching for their next role.

Helen Jones adds: “ICAEW Jobs is about your entire career journey. If you want to become manager, we’ll help you find the training you should be taking now so that when that role comes up, you’re ready. It’s about working out what you want to do and finding a role where you can progress.”

Further support

 Visit ICAEW Jobs and upload your CV.

Watch Simon’s session at ICAEW’s Financial Controllers Update 2020 in December.

Listen to Simon Gray’s podcasts supporting executive job search recorded with ICAEW.