Graduate Guide: Measure up for your first Accounting job

So you’ve graduated from your Accounting Degree after some hard work, determination and maybe some parties/socialising in between? Great! Now is the time to put everything you learned into practice and develop your reputation as a fantastic employee in the market.

Every year at AccountAbility we are approached by hundreds of fresh Accounting Graduates who are eager to break into the world of Accounting and start their first full-time role. As the market becomes increasingly competitive we have put together a guide to help you along your way and to help you nail those interviews.

Step One: Your resume

Competition is certainly alive and well in the graduate market and sometimes we’ll get up to 400 responses for one advert! So make sure that your resume stands out from the crowd with these handy tips.

  • Make sure you have a clear, professional layout with no wacky fonts! It’s always best to start with your personal details, then a short objective, then your Degree/Qualifications (including your GPA) and then your experience. Make sure to list your experience in bullet points under each job and make sure to list the dates as month/year – month/year.
  • Make sure you are using the correct spelling and grammar in your resume – sounds basic but you would be surprised how many people don’t spell check their resumes! Ask a friend to take a second look at your resume to see if they can spot any errors.
  • If you have held a casual job during University in retail or hospitality add that in! It’s great to see if you have experience in cash handling, or dealing with tricky customers.
  • It is helpful if possible to add in your notice period if you have a current role and your visa status if you have a working visa.

Now the ball is rolling…

Step Two: You receive a phone call from the agency recruiting the role or the company directly

This is your chance to show how enthusiastic, eager and mature you are. Communication is key!

  • If you are on a train, bus, in the gym, at a restaurant, at work or anywhere noisy where you can’t concentrate – either go somewhere quiet or ask to reschedule the call! There is nothing worse than ruining your chances by sounded distracted or aloof. Take this first point of contact seriously – it is how companies will decide who to interview.
  • If you’re looking for a job make sure you have a professional voicemail message and you answer the phone in a professional manner. This is not the time for a novelty voicemail.
  • This is the time to show your personality and interest, keep a note of the roles you have applied for so if someone calls you it’s fresh in your mind. Let them know how interested you are to find out about the position and if you’ve seen the job description online match up what transferable skills you have. Remember that they will presume if you’ve applied for the role you know what it entails and a little about the company!
  • Remember to relax and breathe! Resist the urge to rush and talk over the interviewer as happens when people are excited. Try to build rapport with the person on the phone.
  • Remember to smile! It comes across on the phone.

Step 3: You’re invited to attend a face-to-face interview

Awesome! This is the fun part; you can meet some new people, learn more about businesses in Sydney and find your dream role.

  • A first stage interview for a graduate role will normally last around thirty minutes. This is your time to shine so make sure you are prepared as much as possible so you can relax and be yourself. Whatever you do – do not turn up unprepared!
  • Pick out what you are going to wear the day before unless you are told otherwise it is important to wear a smart suit with a clean/pressed shirt or blouse. Wear smart shoes and keep the jewellery/makeup professional.
  • Research the company online and the person you’re meeting. Read and re-read the job description and make notes if you’ve any questions.
  • Arrive on time or a little early – check out the location online and leave yourself enough time to arrive in the area fifteen minutes before your interview, but don’t enter reception until five to ten minutes before the interview is due to start.
  • When your interviewer arrives to greet you, stand up, shake their hand (with a good strong handshake), look them in the eye, smile and tell them how pleased you are to meet them. Does this sound basic to you? About 20% of people actually do it.
  • Let the interviewer lead the conversation – that’s all it is a conversation! They’ll most likely talk through your Educational history, any work experience you may have and what interests you in the role at hand. Have some good examples ready of how you could be a great candidate for the role. This may be a display of teamwork from your casual job or your sports team. Or perhaps you’ve been proactive and had an Accounting internship where you learned about business accounting. Make sure you stand out! People will sometimes want to know what your hobbies are or what you enjoy doing in your spare time – don’t leave them looking at a blank face!
  • If you are going to make big statements about being reliable, hard working, etc. please make sure you have examples to back this up.
  • At the end of the interview feel free to ask questions – but don’t ask things like ‘’what time will my lunchbreak be’’. Ask questions that show you’re thinking about the role and the business. Feel free to let them know how interested you are in the position, if you are.
  • End the interview with another good handshake and thank the person for their time, it’s no problem to ask them when you can expect to hear back from them.
  • After the interview, if you’re giving feedback to your Recruitment Consultant or the internal Hiring Manager remember to give detailed answers and good information about why you’re interested in the role.

While searching for a job make sure the communication you have via email, phone or in person is always clear, confident and articulate. Don’t forget to be yourself and don’t be afraid to make the person laugh or smile!

When starting out in the Accounting field the kind of roles you can expect are Accounts Payable, Accounts Receivable, Accounts Assistant, and Junior Assistant Accountant. The salary range for a graduate is currently sitting at a range of $40,000 – $50,000 + super depending on the company. It’s good to remain open about this as what is really important now is some solid experience on your resume and some longevity in a role/company. It’s best not to change jobs every 6 months when you’re starting out!

Remember to check the AccountAbility website for any junior opportunities.

Yseult joined AccountAbility in July 2012 and recruits permanent roles within Sydney CBD South and South Sydney. Before entering the workforce Yseult studied Psychology at University and then a double major in French and Politics

Yseult d’Estelle Roe
Senior Consultant – Permanent, Accounting Support
Telephone:(02) 8296 5339
E-mail Address: Yseult@accountability.com.au
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