Admit it, you love numbers. At Christmas, all the other kids wanted either a Harry Potter Lego set or one of those fashion dolls with the big eyes and outsized heads. But you just wanted an abacus, and in your pre-teen years, a calculator.
Well, whether that's true or not, we have good news if you are considering a career in accountancy or financial management: you're in high demand. But just how do you fulfil your childhood fantasy of becoming an accountant? That's where we come in.
Where do I start?
A common route is to apply for a Training Contract with an accounting firm. There are several qualifications to choose from – click here for more info.
Both public and private sector companies are on the hunt for bright graduates to join their finance departments. Some will offer the chance to study for your ACA, ACCA or CIMA qualification, while others run their own specific training programmes which offer exposure to various parts of the business to inform your decision about where to focus your career.
Alternatively, an internship may enable you to really focus your ideas about the best possible career direction. If you don’t manage to get a place on a structured internship, part-time work or voluntary experience can be just as valuable - they too can provide you with the opportunity to refine the skills you need for a career in this industry.
What are the different areas of work?
There’s a wide range of disciplines to choose from and within each there are different kinds of roles on offer. Before you apply, do a bit of research on each to see if you think it could be for you.
- Commercial Finance
- Corporate Finance
- Corporate Recovery
- Corporate Treasury
- Financial Accounting
- Forensic Accounting
- Internal Audit
- Management Accounting
- Professional Services IT
- Public Sector Accounting
- Risk Assessment
What does the application process involve?
Most employers use online application forms, and some will combine this with sending them a CV and covering letter as a method of selection. If you impress at this stage, you may then be invited for a first-round interview, which could lead to an assessment centre.
At assessment centre you will be asked to participate in a range of exercises designed to test your competencies and identify development areas. After this stage, you may face further interviews. You can also bet your bottom dollar that at some stage, you will be asked to complete numerical or verbal reasoning tests, aptitude tests and personality tests.
When should I apply?
Many organisations accept applications on a rolling basis but it’s always worth checking individual employers – some specify early closing dates and in any case, it’s always best to get ahead of the curve and apply early.
What qualifications and skills do I need?
Some of these will already be a sure thing for you, and some may not be your obvious strong points. Either way, you will need to show your employer that you have them all.
- Numeracy and analytical skills
- Strong written and oral communication skills
- Strong interpersonal skills
- Good time management
- Highly organised
- Commercial awareness
- Initiative and motivation
- Team-working and collaboration
If you're looking to apply for a role in this sector, check out all live finance opportunities just here.