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Kickstart your Career!

Posted By Natalie Singer, 06 June 2013
Updated: 06 June 2013

This article first appeared in the ACCA magazine in 2010 and whilst it was targeted at newly qualified accountants, the advice will apply equally to other new entrants to the job market

You’ve made the decision to follow your dream of entering the accounting field, have successfully navigated your way through your studies and now you face the next challenge: finding a job.

Searching for a new job is just like a project; you need to spend time identifying your target and determining the action items required to reach the desired outcome. Planning is a crucial part of the process and should not be underestimated if you want to utilize your time and resources wisely.

Creating your CV

Your CV is the document that needs to "sell” you in your absence. It should speak of your strengths, skills and experience but nothing beats actual examples of performance to shown an employer what you can deliver for them. Use real-life examples of accomplishments to increase your chances of getting an interview. If you don’t yet have any formal work experience, look at highlighting other accomplishments from your studies like outside activities (sport, community work) or your part-time jobs. Even if it doesn’t directly relate to your accounting career you should look to highlight your leadership ability and transferable skills and attributes like planning, reliability, dedication and commitment.

CVs should be concise and additional documentation like certificates, ID, driver’s license and reference letters should always be kept separate and only sent on request. Recruiters get very frustrated receiving an application that has multiple attachments or 10-page documents.

The format of a CV should be neat, logically structured and easy to read. Avoid adding pictures or unnecessary "frippery” – keep it clean and concise. Make use of standard fonts, bullet points and appropriate headings. There are many websites that provide CV templates if you need guidance.

Developing a "Plan of Attack”

As the saying goes "if you want to catch a fish, make sure you have many lines in the water” – the same goes for looking for a job. A job certainly won’t come looking for you so you need to determine a plan of attack and then take the necessary action to get yourself into the job market. Identify your target market – which employers are most suited to your skill and experience.

You should determine what qualities would appeal most to them and work out how to approach them successfully. You are far more likely to make a successful connection with a company if you highlight those skills of yours that match their needs so remember to customize your CV and application for each individual job.

Work out where to market yourself. Consider uploading your CV onto the various job portals. You can register online at no cost and by being on the portal you will be accessible to recruiters who are able to search the online database whenever they’ve got a vacancy. Most job portals also have an alert function that will let you know (via email) whenever a new job is posted that matches your skill set or predefined requirements.

Monitor the career pages in your local newspaper to see if any employers (or recruiters) are advertising positions that you qualify for. Remember that you should also frequently check the websites of your identified employers (companies you’d like to work for) to see if they’re advertising vacancies. Most of South Africa’s top companies have job sections on their website where they advertise vacancies, including graduate programmes.

You should also seriously consider registering with a few recruitment companies who specialise in financial placements. Whilst it is a good idea to be registered with a few, you should rather focus on developing relationships with one or two recruiters than with every recruiter in town.

Know your rights as a work seeker

Recruitment agencies have their own specific requirements when it comes to what they expect of the candidates who are interviewed by them. However it is important to note that you have rights as a candidate, and that you should choose to deal with an APSO-registered agency that practices recruitment in a legal and ethical manner. APSO registered agencies operate according to a strict Code of Ethical & Professional Practice and this refers specifically to the services that should be extended to candidates.

You can expect the following:

Respect & Confidentiality – APSO members are required to treat their candidates with respect and to ensure that their personal information is treated confidentially.

Professionalism – you are entitled to be interviewed by a consultant of appropriate seniority and training who fully understands the search assignment s/he is working on and who can take adequate notes during the course of the interview and who can then present you to the client in an accurate and professional manner.

Efficiency – APSO members are responsible for ensuring that they gather all appropriate information. If any doubt exists as to the authenticity of these documents, the member is required to undertake investigation to verify the relevance of this information.

Permission for submission – it is never acceptable for an agency to forward your CV or personal details to a company without first getting your express permission to be submitted for that particular job. The member is required to provide you with all relevant details including name of the company, job title, salary on offer, location and any other pertinent information.

Communication – members should provide candidates with ongoing feedback concerning the recruitment process. Candidates should always be informed of their success or failure in each vacancy.

Not all agencies are registered with APSO so we recommend that you make a point of dealing only with APSO registered agencies that pride themselves on providing a professional service with high ethical standards. Should you not receive this level of service you should make a point of expressing your concern with the recruitment consultant, agency management or with APSO directly. For more information on APSO, the ethics complaint process and a series of other articles aimed at educating work seekers, visit our website www.apso.co.za

Tags:  candidate rights  CV  dress code  employers want  job search  professionalism  skills  volunteering 

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