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Power Up Your Job Search: It´s all about who and what you know.
IT’S ALL ABOUT
WHO AND WHAT
Whether you’ve just graduated with a business degree or
are a mid-career professional looking to advance, when
it comes to searching for a job in the accounting and
finance industries, you need to have a strategy.
Remember, it’s not always the most qualified candidate who gets the job;
often it’s the person who’s most prepared.
That means you need to maximize ALL of your resources. This involves knowing which
individuals in your networks can assist you, or provide new introductions to those who
can. It also means gathering what information you can to conduct a more effective job
search and using the cumulative information at your disposal early and often in order to
know the finance job market and put yourself out there as a top-notch candidate.
In this ebook, you’ll
learn how to:
• find out about accounting
and finance career
• use your personal
and social networks
to your advantage
• build a rapport with
key people involved
in the hiring process
• maximize the
Your recruiter or agent at a staffing company can be your single most important ally
in your job search. A recruiter usually hears about openings before they’re posted
on job boards and often even knows about opportunities that aren’t advertised at
all. Moreover, as your job search advocate, your recruiter is professionally invested
in you getting a job where you’re happy and will flourish.
Making the most of the relationship
When meeting with a recruiter, conduct yourself just as professionally as you would with
an employer. Dress and behave appropriately, and make sure that your résumé, reference
list, and personal website are complete and current.
Explain what type of position you’re looking for, as well as what your salary requirements
are. Discuss any needs and preferences you have, such as:
• specific area of expertise or interest
• full-time vs. part time work
• flex work or remote work options
• company size and structure
PART I: WORKING WITH RECRUITERS /04
A RECRUITER WHO
KNOWS ABOUT JOB
THEY’RE POSTED AND
ACTS AS YOUR JOB
CAN BE YOUR SINGLE
MOST IMPORTANT ALLY.
PART I: WORKING WITH RECRUITERS
Don’t be afraid to speak about your long-term career objectives, since your recruiter
can work with you over time to help you advance. The more open you are about your
professional aspirations, the better equipped your recruiter will be to help you.
After your initial meeting, be sure to follow up with a thank you email. Be patient,
and always return calls or emails promptly and professionally. If, during your daily job
searches, you find an interesting position or company, let your recruiter know. He or she
might be able to get you in the door faster than an online application. At the same time,
if you line up interviews by yourself, it’s also advisable to inform your recruiter, who might
be able to introduce you to comparable employers with similar positions.
Last, but by no means least, always stay in touch with your recruiter. Be sure to share any
developments in your life that impact you professionally, and maintain an open dialog
about your progress. Because when managed correctly, your relationship with your
recruiter can be one that lasts far beyond a single job and can eventually help you reach
your career goals.
Your personal network can be a valuable source of information and contacts during
your job search. Your family, friends, and colleagues are all potential sources of job
leads. Furthermore, they might also know others who could have information about
opportunities. In short, there’s an ever-widening circle of possible job leads and
introductions available for you to tap into.
Approaching your contacts
To determine whom to approach about your job search, set aside a couple of hours to
make a list of your core network of friends and current colleagues, as well as a list of
more casual acquaintances and past colleagues. Next, assess which of those individuals
might have information or know somebody with information about organizations and
positions that interest you. Then reach out to all of those people. If, after making your
list, you conclude you don’t have many contacts who could help you, attend some
local industry events or job fairs. Being in a room with hundreds of other accounting
and finance professionals greatly enhances your chances of hearing about job leads or
meeting individuals who can introduce you to hiring managers.
PART II: UTILIZING YOUR PERSONAL NETWORK /07
In order to avoid setting off alarm bells with your current employer, mention that
you’re interested in making a career move and would like your job search to remain
confidential. You could say something like, “Professional growth is important to me
and opportunities are limited at my current organization. That is why I am confidentially
looking for opportunities at companies that share this priority for their employees”.
Do you have any information about positions at your organization, or would any of your
contacts know about job openings or companies that are hiring?”
The most fruitful business relationships are those that are beneficial to both parties, so
make sure your discussion isn’t a one-way street. Make it easy for others to want to help
you by always being ready to reciprocate with information or favors.
If anybody gives you a lead, thank him or her politely, and follow up in a timely and
PART II: UTILIZING YOUR PERSONAL NETWORK /08
MAKE IT EASY
FOR OTHERS TO
WANT TO HELP
YOU BY ALWAYS
BEING READY TO
Social media is a powerful resource for your job search. Three important sites for
networking during your job search are LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter.
Let’s take a closer look at each.
To make the most of LinkedIn, ensure your profile is current and highlights your skills and
experience. It’s also a good idea to ask references to write recommendations for you.
Then review your network to see which contacts could offer assistance in your job search.
Think of people who work at the companies that interest you, or who are members of
finance groups such as Accounting and Finance Professionals, Finance Club, and Finance
Industry Professionals Worldwide. Look for contacts in professional organizations such as
the Association for Financial Professionals (AFP), The Institute of Management Accountants
(IMA), National Association of Black Accountants (NABA), American Institute of Certified
Public Accountants (AICPA), the National Association of Insurance and Financial Advisors
(NAIFA), and the Society of Financial Service Professionals (FSP).
Since most LinkedIn users have between 100 and 600 contacts, the best way to find
helpful contacts is to perform a search for specific companies, groups, or professional
associations, then see which of your contacts appear in the search results. After that, you can
reach out to each with a personal message about your job search and how they could help.
PART III: WORKING YOUR SOCIAL MEDIA NETWORK
LinkedIn also features a job board. You can search by keywords, job title, or company
name, and specify the locations you’re interested in. Note that your job activity doesn’t
appear on your activity feed—it’s completely private.
It’s important to know what does and doesn’t appear on your LinkedIn profile,
especially if you’re employed and searching for another job. There are two types
of activity updates:
• The activity broadcast, which shows when you’re updating your profile, following
organizations or companies, or making recommendations. If you’re tweaking your
headline, adding new information to your profile, or following companies to hear
about openings, it’s best to set your activity broadcast to “private.”
• The activity feed, which shows your updates, likes, and shares. If you’re looking to
establish yourself as an expert by posting articles and participating in discussions,
it’s advisable to choose a setting that offers you a wide audience, such as “network”
PART III: WORKING YOUR SOCIAL MEDIA NETWORK
Though Facebook can be useful to hear about job openings on company pages, the
main thing to keep in mind is that employers will look at your profile if they’re interested
in you. Make sure your page looks entirely professional by only including information
you’d feel comfortable discussing in a job interview.
Twitter is a great way to hear about opportunities from companies and recruiters. In
addition, you can use Twitter to establish yourself as an expert by promoting your own
blog posts, as well as highlighting content that pertains to your field.
PART III: WORKING YOUR SOCIAL MEDIA NETWORK
FIND HELPFUL CONTACTS
ON LINKEDIN BY
SEARCHING FOR SPECIFIC
SEEING WHICH OF YOUR
CONTACTS APPEAR IN
THE SEARCH RESULTS.
Though there are a number of large, aggregator job boards out there, many
companies prefer not to use them due to the overwhelming number of responses
they receive. At the same time, as a job seeker on these large job boards, you can
find yourself sifting through a huge number of postings, only to apply for a job
along with hundreds of other candidates without any certainty that your résumé
will stand out.
Fortunately, there are other sources of job postings that can be more useful to
accounting and finance professionals:
• The aggregator website Indeed.com can be a useful source of job postings. You
can search by keyword or job title, and filter by distance, salary estimate, company,
location, job type, and employer or recruiter. You can even read reviews about the
• Some professional organizations such as the Association for Financial Professionals
(AFP) and The Institute of Management Accountants (IMA) have job postings on
PART IV: JOB POSTINGS /14
• Most online and print newspapers offer regional job postings. This is especially useful
to find postings with small to mid-sized local companies who don’t want to spend a lot
of money on an aggregate site, but who want to reach a large candidate pool.
• Your local Chamber of Commerce might offer job postings online. It’s also a good idea
to check here for local networking events where you might discover information about
/15PART IV: JOB POSTINGS
PREFER NOT TO USE
JOB BOARDS DUE TO
NUMBER OF RESPONSES
THEY RECEIVE, SO
IT’S IMPORTANT TO
KNOW WHERE OTHER
FINANCE JOB POSTINGS
CAN BE FOUND.
/17PART V: REQUESTING AN INFORMATIONAL INTERVIEW WITH A COMPANY
If there’s a specific organization that interests you, request an informational
interview with a Corporate recruiter or person responsible for talent acquisition
at the company. An informational interview allows you to learn more about an
organization’s structure and work environment, as well as what it offers in terms of
career development. It also offers you the opportunity to introduce yourself and
showcase your qualifications.
Prepare for the interview by researching the company and making a list of questions you
want to ask. Consider points that are specific to the position that interests you, the work
environment, and the company, such as:
• What are the results the company wants to achieve from this position?
• What is somebody in this role expected to deliver?
• Are there any additional skills you can acquire to be more successful in this position?
• What’s the work environment like?
• Are there opportunities to learn/train on the job?
• Does the company provide clear career paths and career advancement assistance?
• What are the policies in regard to flex work and/or telecommuting?
IF A COMPANY
TAKES THE TIME TO
SPEAK WITH YOU IN
THERE’S ALWAYS THE
CHANCE IT COULD
RESULT IN A JOB
PART V: REQUESTING AN INFORMATIONAL INTERVIEW WITH A COMPANY
Though an informational interview is intended to be an introductory meeting, there’s
always the possibility it will result in a job lead or even a job offer, so always bring your
A-game. Be prepared to answer questions about yourself and your career objectives,
because if the company’s taking the time to speak with you, they could be interested
in hiring you.
If, on the other hand, the interview doesn’t immediately result in a job lead, follow up
to thank the company representative for his or her time and ask to receive periodic
updates about job opportunities.
/20PART VI: RESEARCHING THE ORGANIZATION AND HIRING MANAGER
Once you’ve been invited to a job interview, it’s time to research the company and
the hiring manager who’ll be interviewing you. The more you know about each, the
better your chances of making yourself memorable during the interview.
Research the organization by doing the following:
• Learn about the company’s mission, history and recent developments on its website.
You can find this information on the “About Us,” “Mission,” and “News” pages.
Organizations that are publicly traded publish their annual reports, which also provide
a good overview of developments.
• Perform a Google news search on the organization. This will give you insights into the
most important developments from both the industry and the public’s perspective.
Simultaneously, it can reveal what challenges the organization faces and who its
competitors are. Pay special attention to any mention of reorganization as a result
of new regulations, as well as new products and services offered thanks to increased
digitalization of the industry.
/21PART VI: RESEARCHING THE ORGANIZATION AND HIRING MANAGER
• Look for additional information on LinkedIn, Hoovers, and Yahoo Business.
• If you have any contacts who work at or do business with the organization, speak with
them about the organizational structure and work environment. This will give you a
frame of reference against which to discuss your own career plans during the interview.
Be clear in what you have done for companies in the past. When describing your
current or past positions, ask which positions or departments/projects are similar in their
company. Companies can be structured differently, but finding relevant / comparative
situations will make the appeal greater.
THE MORE YOU
KNOW ABOUT A
AND THE HIRING
MANAGER, THE BETTER
YOUR CHANCES OF
PART VI: RESEARCHING THE ORGANIZATION AND HIRING MANAGER
It’s advisable to research the hiring manager in order to establish a rapport you can build
upon from the start of the interview:
• Read the hiring manager’s profile on the organization’s website. Granted, a large institution
probably won’t feature employees’ bios, but oftentimes, regional branches do.
• Review the same manager’s profile on LinkedIn. Look for things like the same alma
maters and the same group or professional memberships. Pay special attention to
information that indicates you share professional interests. For example, if you’re a
financial analyst and the hiring manager has published an article on using a specific
algorithm to predict trends in the oil and natural gas industry, make sure to study the
article so you can use it as a conversation starter.
• Check LinkedIn to see if any of your contacts know the hiring manager. If you have a
good rapport with those contacts, perhaps they can provide insight or put in a good
word for you.
/24PART VII: PRACTICING THE INTERVIEW
Now that you have a good overview of a potential employer and have prepared
one or two icebreakers to establish a rapport with the hiring manager, it’s time
to practice the interview. There are two things to pay attention to: relentlessly
preparing answers to standard interview questions and illustrating how you can
satisfy every line on the job description.
Standard interview questions
A hiring manager will ask work-related and behavioral questions. You should prepare
clear and concise responses that you can elaborate on, if necessary. Work-related
questions pertain to how you work, what your career aspirations are, and what you’re
looking for in a position. Here are some examples:
• What’s the most important thing you look for in a position?
• Do you function well in a team?
• What attracts you to this role and this company?
• What are your long-term career goals?
• How would your co-workers describe you?
/25PART VII: PRACTICING THE INTERVIEW
Behavioral—or situational—questions are intended to give the hiring manager an idea of
your performance. These questions should always be answered by describing a situation,
explaining what processes you applied to handle it, and state the outcome. The outcome
doesn’t have to be positive so long as you can explain how you addressed the situation,
what you learned from it, and how you’d do things differently next time. Examples of
behavioral questions are:
• Tell me about a recent work challenge you had to overcome.
• Explain to me how you handle conflict in the workplace.
• Describe a time you had to lead an interdepartmental team.
• Explain to me how you assess the value of a process in the workplace.
• Tell me about a mistake you made and how you learned from it.
THERE ARE TWO
THINGS TO REMEMBER:
2.) ILLUSTRATE HOW
YOU CAN DO
/26PART VII: PRACTICING THE INTERVIEW
Satisfying every line on the job description
Though the hiring manager has likely checked your qualifications and experience
against the job description, you should be prepared to speak about your
responsibilities in previous roles to prove you’re equipped to do the job. Spend some
time thinking about how your accumulated experience, not just your job-specific
experience, can demonstrate you are fit for the role. If you’re lean in certain technical
or industry-specific areas, show how your other experience compensates. For example,
if one of the requirements is to have held a financial management role for three years
but you only did so for two, you can always highlight your years as the treasurer of
your sports club.
It is ok to not have expereince in everything on the job description. Try to find tie-ins
to closely related positions or projects you’ve done in the past and relate them to
deficiencies. If necessary, bring up a time where you were a novice in an area and
learned it quickly.
SPEND SOME TIME
THINKING ABOUT HOW
EXPERIENCE, NOT JUST
ARE FIT FOR THE ROLE.
/28PART VIII: SHOWING HOW YOU ADD VALUE
Hiring managers see many eligible candidates over the course of an interview
process. But what they’re really looking for are financial professionals who
differentiate themselves by demonstrating how they can add value to an organization.
That’s why it’s crucial to show you can be proactive with your knowledge and skills
on behalf of the organization’s interests. Use the information you learned about the
company to determine the biggest challenges it faces right now. Then determine how
you can make a difference based on your qualities. For example, if you have experience
in managing contingent workers and the company’s in the middle of a reorganization
that will restructure its workforce, highlight your experience and tell the hiring manager
how your knowledge can be of use in coordinating the switch to a more contingent-
based workforce. Or if you’re a loan specialist with experience in regulatory matters and
the company’s adapting to new regulations, explain how your compliance knowledge
can help the transition run more smoothly.
In short, organizations are looking for professionals who can offer solutions to the
problems they’re facing. So before your interview, spend some time thinking about how
your specific skills and experience can help this particular employer, and prepare some
examples to illustrate your points.
SHOW HOW YOU
ADDED VALUE, SAVED
DROVE BOTTOM LINE
RESULTS IN YOUR
Regardless of where you are in your career, looking
for a job in the accounting and finance sector involves
maximizing all of your resources.
Use them wisely by working with your recruiter, mining your networks, and
utilizing the information at your disposal quickly and appropriately to prepare
properly for an interview. That way, you stand a greater chance of landing the
job of your dreams in the finance industry.
Kelly puts a new employee to work every 33 seconds, and
every four minutes one gets hired directly by a Kelly customer.
Search for jobs on our Kelly Career Network
or visit www.kellyservices.us/financecareers to get started today.