Finding the right job takes time and effort. Here’s an easy guide to planning your job search over the new year.
Welcome to 2018! As we dive back into our normal work routines after our long holiday breaks, most of us spend the month of January contemplating how we can improve through the New Year. Despite what feels like impending doom for most accountants and finance professionals who are in the thick of year-end close and preparing for busy season, January is a great month to begin planning for your career.
Finding the ‘right’ job to advance your accounting or finance career can be intimidating. Searching for a new job takes time and effort. Whether you are meeting with recruiters or editing your resume to reflect how your skill-sets align with those needed for an open position, each step of the process takes time which could otherwise be spent preparing dinner or playing with your kids (or pets). So how can one streamline the process and minimize the amount of time they spend searching for a new job?
To simplify your job search through the new year and increase the probability of landing a job which you truly enjoy and advances your career, our team here at Pinnacle recommends planning ahead. Just like saving for vacation or retirement, spending simply an hour or two each month adds up over time. We’ve developed the following three week challenge to help you maximize the possibility of not only finding a job, but finding a job you enjoy this coming year.
1. Week 1 – Determine what you truly want out of your next job.
Unlike the movie the Notebook, asking yourself what you truly want [out of a job] is well… that simple. If you feel as though it is not that simple, we recommend breaking down your current role and exploring where you see yourself in the future with two questions.
- Are you content or unhappy? If you are unhappy in your current role, why are you unhappy? The first step of our challenge is to make a list of pro’s and con’s regarding your current job. For example maybe you enjoy monthly reconciliations and routine responsibilities, but despise the ad hoc operational analyses you are asked to do. Or maybe you love your job, but find it hard to work for a micromanaging boss.
Once you’ve developed a list, take these and create a list of questions you will want to ask potential employers once you begin interviewing. These questions should aim to answer whether or not the role aligns with what you consider to be pro’s and will help you identify red flags you’ve identified on your con’s list. Not only does this list of questions assist you with asking targeted questions during an interview, it also helps you filter out potential jobs after reading a job description.
- Where do you see yourself in 3 years? Where do you see yourself in 5 years? After exploring what you like and dislike in your current role, it’s time explore what you want out of your career. Are you planning on becoming a CFO? Maybe you simply would like to make the move from public accounting to corporate accounting?
Wherever you see yourself in three years, begin reviewing job descriptions for these roles. Identify commonly required and requested skills, and create a list. Do the same for your five year goal. We additionally recommend reaching out to a contact in your network who currently works in your desired role or reach out to a recruiter. Ask them how you can improve your current marketable skill-set to get to where you’d like to be.
2. Week 2 – Look at your resume…. No but seriously, actually look at it.
How many times have you read your resume, or resumes? Probably so many times that you go cross-eyed just thinking about it. During Week 2 of this challenge we recommend you analyze your resume. Review it as though you are a hiring manager or the HR department of a large company. Not sure what you are looking for? Answer these two questions:
- On average, how many years do you spend at one job? Take a look at your resume and the amount of time you’ve spent at each job. Job hopping is normal in today’s professional world. That being said unless you are a consultant, it is still frowned upon when the average amount of time you spend at a job is under one year. If this is the case, write down why you’ve job hopped for any given amount of time. Employers will ask. Be proactive in formulating your responses and bounce them off of other people for their opinions.
- How many of the desirable skills identified during Week 1 are actually listed on your resume?
Based upon the list you built in Week 1 of commonly required and requested skills, review your resume and identify how many of those terms you have listed. If you have the experience but excluded it from your resume initially, build it in. If you find that your resume is growing to more than two pages in length, consider making two separate resumes. For example if you are a Senior Accountant who has had a substantial amount of revenue recognition experience as well as general financial accounting experience, create a resume which highlights your specific responsibilities relating to revenue recognition and create another highlighting experiences with month-end close, reconciliations, financial reporting, and operational analyses.
3. Week 3 – Create a year long job search plan.
During the last week of the challenge, we want you to create a year long job search plan. Break down the amount of time you plan on spending each month on applying for jobs, interviewing for jobs, interviewing with recruiters, and networking. We recommend spending at least two hours on your job search each month.
Month 1-3, you will want to allocate most of your time to applying for jobs and working with recruiters. Months 3-6 should have your time weighted slightly more towards applying, interviewing for jobs and networking. The remaining months should primarily consist of interviewing and networking. Remember to take into account holidays and vacation time, as well. Set realistic time allotments which will not stress or burdon your schedule.
After completing this three week challenge, you will have a solid foundation and framework from which you can move forward in 2018. Not only do you have a framework to continue advancing your career, you also will have clear career advancement goals to hit each month for yourself. And yes, as accountants and finance professionals, we all know how much we love meeting our goals.
We look forward to receiving your feedback regarding the challenge through the new year. If you have enjoyed the article or have questions, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org! We look forward to hearing from you and wish you success with your job search in 2018!