5 Things You Should Know as a New Accounting Grad

Accounting is a demanding field, requiring a variety of exclusive skills as a new accounting grad, but it also offers significant financial reward and room for advancement. As the world of international commerce continues to grow, more opportunities are being made available to the new accounting grad, but new graduates face stiff competition. Other recent graduates and established professionals alike are always on the lookout for new opportunities for professional growth, making accounting one of the most highly competitive industries within today’s financial sector.

Here are five things you need to know as a new account grad who’s looking to get their foot in the door:

Keep an Eye on Your Credit Score

Today, many employers within the financial sector do a detailed background check, including a check of a prospective employee’s credit score. This was once uncommon within the accounting industry, but recent changes in legislation make it a more accessible tool in the employer’s toolbox. As a result, it’s becoming steadily more common, but has yet to enter into the advice of many well-established career advisors and university guidance counselors. Make sure you keep up your credit score through such simple steps as making your minimum payments on time (and never being late on rent or utilities).

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Related resource: Top 10 Best Online Accounting Degree Programs 2015

Use Every Resource at Your Disposal

One of the most common assertions by recent graduates of prestigious accounting programs is that none of the methods they’ve tried for finding a job are working out as well as they’d hoped. In many cases, it appears that one of two things is happening: the newly-minted accounting grad is sticking almost exclusively to traditional means of job hunting and professional networking, or they’re relying entirely on career-finder websites such as Monster or Indeed. Use every tool available to you in your job hunt. Post resumes to the career websites, without ignoring the small, locally-based, or business-specific networks. Work your social media connections, and put out more traditional networking feelers as well. Do not neglect the tremendous resource that is the career advisor or guidance department at your university.

Don’t Turn Up Your Nose at Internships

Internships provide valuable learning experience within a professional environment. A good internship with a reputable employer will do two things for you: it teaches you how the world of accounting works outside of the classroom, and it looks good on the application you’re submitting to a firm with far more applicants than it has positions which need filling.

Be Prepared to Work Your Way Up

Thanks to a lot of highly qualified competition, recent graduates from prestigious schools across the country are often having trouble landing their ideal position right away. Even with a Master’s in Accounting, a lucrative starting position may be out of reach; some graduates send out hundreds of applications, but only land a handful of interviews within their first 2-3 months. You may need to accept a position that isn’t quite what you’d hoped for at first, possibly even ignoring your intended career ladder (in favor of a job that will provide you experience that your intended career makes requisite). Be prepared to shop your skills around again, once you’ve earned a little professional experience.

Don’t Wait Until the Last Minute

Start working toward that dream job before you graduate. Make sure you have a basic resume template prepared and ready to go, with as few blanks as possible left to fill in once you’re in the market. Crafting a custom-tailored resume and cover letter for each company you apply to is ideal, but if you’re filing stacks of applications that isn’t a reasonable expectation. Instead, make sure you have a career advisor look at your resume and make sure it’s up to par. Make inquiries before you graduate, looking for input from potential employers as to what it is that they’re looking for in an employee who’s recently graduated.

By following these and other common sense steps, you will greatly inrease your chances of landing a sustainable job as a new accounting grad — one that will allow for further advancement and administrative opportunities down the road. For more specific advice, you should look to the career guidance professionals at your university or college. They can offer you information that’s particular to your intended career path in your local area, and provide you with useful professional connections to help get you started as a new accounting grad.