Building a career in finance starts from the moment you decide to earn your qualifications.
Once you know what kind of job you want, you can pursue an educational path designed to guide you towards success, earning specific qualifications and building critical skills. However, earning your certifications is just the first step.
Once you’ve proven yourself with years of academic focus, it’s time to find your first accounting position. Knowing exactly how to prepare yourself for this crucial transitional stage is pivotal to ensuring a bright future in finance.
Here’s what you need to know about finding that first role post-qualification.
Step 1: Make Sure You Have the Right Qualifications
Hopefully, you took your time to explore the kind of qualifications most suitable to your desired role long before now. There are tons of opportunities out there for people interested in finance, but your specific qualifications will determine how appealing you are to employers.
For an accountant, the minimum qualification is usually the “AAT”. However, you can improve your chances of higher-paying roles if you’re willing to invest in an ACCA, ACA, or CIMA qualifications to demonstrate additional skills. While a university degree is common in the financial world, the most important qualifications will usually be:
- Suitable A levels: Maths and economics at A level can be followed by an accounting degree or used alongside accounting certifications to demonstrate your knowledge.
- AAT: These accounting courses are made up of four qualifications across three levels. The higher your qualification, the better.
- ACCA: This certification defines you as a chartered accountant. The modules cover a range of topics, from business and corporate law to auditing and insurance.
- AIA: This qualification allows professionals to establish themselves as qualified accountants and join an official organisation.
- ICAEW: This institute offers the ACA qualification, which includes 15 exam modules and 450 days of practical experience.
- CIMA: The CIMA oversees the CFMA (Chartered Global Management Accountant) certificate. You will need a CIMA certificate for Business Accounting before applying for this.
Most companies in search of financial professionals will accept any of the qualifications above. However, the more complex the role you want, the more specific the certificate request will be.
Step 2: Plan Your Career Path
Now you know what kind of role you’re going to be pursuing and with which qualifications, you can begin to think about your long-term career path. Do you want to start as an accountant working on a team and gradually work your way up to management accounting?
Having a basic idea of what kind of career you want to have will give you an insight into the type of experience and opportunities you need to look into for your first role. Notably, your dream role might evolve with time as you gain experience in different positions and discover which work you enjoy the most.
A lot of beginners start with a basic role as a financial assistant or a member of a financial team working with a number of other accountants. If you have a specialist skill, you can look into things like business recovery and insolvency accounting, professional financial auditing, or forensic accounting. Some financial professionals focus exclusively on corporate finance and tax.
For most roles, you’ll also need to consider whether you’d prefer to work in the public or private sector. Public accounting professionals work as an independent third party with a variety of client companies. Private accounting involves working for a specific company as an internal finance manager.
Step 3: Research Job Opportunities
With a view of your future in finance in mind, begin looking for job opportunities capable of delivering the experience you need. If you don’t have a lot of experience yet, you may need to consider working in an entry position for a while before you have a chance to move up to a more senior role. If you want to work for a specific company, you can also look into things like internships to help develop your CV.
Check out the websites and current job listings for the companies you’re interested in. This will help you figure out what kind of skills, personal characteristics, and other attractive factors you should add to your CV and cover letter.
This could also be the perfect time to start improving your chances of getting the role you want by building your professional brand online. Design a LinkedIn profile where recruiters can learn about your experience and history.
Step 4: Create the Perfect CV
Using the knowledge you’ve gained by looking at the job descriptions issued by companies you want to work for, design a CV to help you stand out from the crowd. Highlight the certifications you have in your field first, and avoid adding anything irrelevant to your CV.
Remember to address soft skills as well as technical talent in your CV. Things like the ability to work as a team or act as a leader will be crucial in certain roles. You may also need to describe your ability to work independently if you’re applying for remote or hybrid working positions.
Tailor each CV and its accompanying cover letter to the specific needs of the business you’re applying to. You can pinpoint keywords in job descriptions like “willingness to learn” to help you decide how to adjust your CV. Remember to:
- Proofread your CV and remove any mistakes
- Include relevant information about your experiences and skills
- Use specific details and stats to highlight the talents your employer is looking for
- Use your cover letter to demonstrate why you’re the perfect fit for the job
Step 5: Work with a Specialist Finance Recruiter
Finally, the best way to ensure you always have the edge when applying for your first finance job is to access the right help. A specialist finance recruitment team will be able to give you all the guidance you need to improve your chances of being accepted for your required role.
Professional recruiters can also assist with getting your CV in front of the right people when you’re first starting out. These teams have access to huge communities full of financial companies searching for someone with your skills.
As you progress through job applications and interviews, take the feedback you get from your recruitment team, and combine it with your own experience to improve your chances of future success.
Finding your first role in the financial industry can feel like a daunting task.
Fortunately, there are ways to improve your chances of a job offer. Following the tips above will put you in the perfect position to make a memorable application.
Working with Rebus to get your CV in front of the right people will boost your chances of finding the role you want as quickly as possible.
You can connect by emailing us here or calling our direct line on 01282 930 930
About Rebus Financial Recruitment
Rebus Financial Recruitment provides a specialist and focused recruitment service to its customers, which historically range from various organisations, including SMEs, to large PLCs.
We strive to offer both the client and candidate a seamless recruitment experience. Using our expertise, we get to the heart of employer and employee needs, and, in doing so, we match the two perfectly. To find out more, get in contact with one of our team today, or you can call us on 01282 930930.