New Year, new job? Advice for part qualified accountants

It’s that time of year again. In January everyone starts to think about the year ahead and at the top of a lot of people’s mind is a new job. For part qualified or finalists studying for ACCA, ACA or CIMA exams, the good news is that your skills and expertise are more in demand than ever before. Employers are often opting to hire a part qualified (PQ) or finalist over newly qualified candidates as they appreciate that a PQ will be willing to take on hands-on accounting duties and can offer longevity through qualification and beyond. We have seen a marked rise in demand for candidates at this level for accountancy roles across London.
A strong PQ should be able to secure multiple interviews and even job offers, but the competition can be tough. There are a lot of candidates at this level so how can you get employers interested in meeting and then hiring you?
Firstly, enlist the help of a professional – go and see a recruitment expert. We are well positioned to open doors and introduce you to potential employers. We are also able to give you practical career advice as to what and where your next move should be, a realistic appraisal of your market worth and tips on how to improve your CV and interview technique.
Secondly, once you have made the decision to look, be committed in your search and know the reasons you are looking. Is it salary and/or study support, a new challenge, workplace values, work-life balance or all of the above? Employers value a clear minded and focused candidate who knows what they are doing. If your only reason for making a career move is to get a pay rise, speak to your boss now, before spending time and effort on a job search.
Be clear and realistic about which opportunities you are looking for and what value you can add in your next role. Check the Page Personnel Finance job boards to get a sense of what is out there. Be realistic about the roles you pursue; if you want to change sectors but don’t have any experience in that field, think of ways to sidestep into the area you want. Perhaps take on a role similar in content or pay to your current role but in the sector you really want.

Get your CV right:

  • Make sure it is clearly laid out, highlights your experience and achievements under each job and is easy for a potential new boss to asses in a very short period of time. Research shows that upon reviewing a CV, one in five employers take just one minute to decide if they wish to meet the candidate. The simple fact is that they are not going to read every word so you need to make sure that the key points stand out. 
  • Your qualification level needs to be high up on the first page; hiding it down at the bottom of page two won’t do you any favours.
  • Be transparent about where you are with your qualification level. Show all your exemptions clearly as well as all your exam passes. These should not be grouped as the same – some employers take exception to this. Specify when your next exam sitting is and which paper(s) you are planning to take.
  • If you have first time passes all the way, make sure you highlight this on your CV or at the interview stage. This will really help you to stand out. If you didn’t have long gaps between exams you should make note of it.
  • Ensure that other academic achievements are on your CV. Degrees, A-Levels and GCSEs with good grades can help to differentiate you from the pack.
Know your worth – you can gauge your salary worth based on your current skill set and qualification level by reviewing our advertised part PQ jobs. Keep in mind that salaries advertised show the maximum that the company is willing to pay, so you may need to pitch yourself lower, we can advise on this.
If you are close to qualifying, you should consider what you would achieve once qualified and factor that into salary negotiations with a new employer. However, remember that just because you are nearly exam qualified, if you lack the relevant practical experience you need to be realistic about your market worth.

Get the interview right:

For a successful interview, preparation is everything. Make sure you know how to present your technical skills and competencies – see our interview tips for more. As well as presenting technical skills, you need to show your personality – too often a candidate with the right technical and academic level will fail at interview because they don’t give the interviewer a true sense of who they are and what they will be like to work with on a day-to-day basis. 
Try to be confident, open and clear with your communications at interview and be honest about how you can add value and where you need to develop.
Be clear as to what your plans and intentions are for completing your studies. Have in mind a timeframe of when you expect to qualify and know your results to date. Keep in mind that not all employers are looking to hire someone who is looking to complete their exams too quickly. 
For a confidential discussion about your market worth and suitable part qualified career opportunities, contact Mary Cotter, Business Partner at Page Personnel Finance.
Mary Cotter
T: 0207 776 5987