Most bookkeeping and accounting professionals have been 'there'; find accounting vacancy, apply for accounting vacancy, don't get offered the accounting vacancy, repeat. The 'endless' cycle of applying for accounting jobs is frustrating, sometimes even discouraging. I, The Bookkeeping Master, have also been 'there' and I know exactly how it feels. It actually took me nearly 2 years before I was able to secure my first-ever accounting job. Believe me, the 'endless' applying is well-worth it in the end. In this post, I will provide some encouragement to anyone feeling beaten and will give my top 5 tips to securing a job in bookkeeping and/or accounting.
#1 Educate yourself
Accounting and finance education can not only make you more knowledgeable about bookkeeping and accounting, it also creates more options. For example, some employers will not even consider your application if you have not received certain or basic accounting qualifications. Generally an applicant that has qualifications has many more career options than the applicant who has no qualifications. Most accounting qualifications cover a wide-range of accounting areas. The AAT is a basic accounting qualification but AAT qualified applicants are desirable in chartered accountants, sales and purchase ledger roles, bookkeeping practices, payroll businesses and other finance and accounting companies and departments.
If you are looking for a very basic bookkeeping qualification, I suggest the ICB.
If you are looking for a basic accounting qualification, I suggest the AAT.
If you want a very extensive accounting qualification, I suggest the ACCA.
#2 Be willing to make sacrifices and take risks
Sometimes it is worth considering a pay-cut or working unsuitable hours just to get an initial accounting job. Once you have an accounting job, it is much easier to secure a more suitable accounting job. I struggled to obtain an accounting job for nearly 2 years, in the end I left my full-time and permanent office job for a 6 month maternity cover in an accounts department for a major manufacturer. This was risky but it was well-worth it. Because of this job I was able to obtain another accounting job (with ease) after the 6 month contract had ended, and thus began my accounting career.
#3 Do everything to gain experience
Experience and qualifications are key to interview invitations. It is frustrating when someone suggests gaining some finance or accounting experience when no one is willing to give you this experience. I suggest asking self-employed family and friends if they would be willing for you to keep their accounts for them. This can then be put on your CV. Also consider working for free. Some businesses will 'jump' at this opportunity.
#4 Consider alternatives
One of the reasons I was able to obtain my first accounting job is because I already worked in an office and some of my roles for the position were similar to what I was already doing in my current position. My current position had nothing to do with finance, bookkeeping or accounting, it was simply an office job with some comparisons to the accounting job I had applied for. If you are not successful in your accounting applications, consider an office job or something accounting related (a bank job, a call centre position for an accounting software provider, till operator at a supermarket) while you continue to apply for positions.
#5 Some of the best jobs are never advertised
Once again, ask family and friends to keep an eye and ear out for you. Advertised vacancies and recruitment agencies are generally overwhelmed with applications. Also try to post your CV to local businesses.