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Starting a career in Accounting & Finance for graduates
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Starting a career in Accounting & Finance for graduates

Posted on 29 March 2023

Recently, I've noticed an uplift in junior accounting candidates seeking job opportunities and advice. Many of these candidates are looking for guidance on what transferable skills are valuable for their first accounting job and what salaries and opportunities they can expect.

If you're just starting out in your career, it's important to know what skills employers are looking for outside of technical expertise. One of the most sought-after skills is Excel proficiency. Even if you don't have experience in an accounting role, having transferable Excel skills can make you a competitive candidate.

So, what Excel skills should you focus on?

I recommend starting with the basics: formulas and formatting. From there, intermediate skills like pivot tables and VLOOKUPs are highly valued by employers. Advanced skills like macros are a bonus, but not essential.

Don't worry if you're not familiar with these terms yet. There are plenty of online resources available to help you get up to speed. A quick search on YouTube or Google can provide you with tutorials and guidance to improve your Excel skills. Investing time in developing your Excel skills can make you stand out to potential employers and increase your chances of landing a job. So, take the initiative to learn and improve your Excel proficiency.

Are there any other transferrable skills?

Strong communication skills are also important. Being able to write effectively, speak confidently on the phone, and engage with stakeholders at all levels is a key factor in today's job market.

Employers are seeking individuals who can do more than simply crunch numbers and input data. They want business partners who can work with a team, investigate discrepancies, and ask the right questions. Having strong communication skills will help you stand out from other candidates and show that you're ready to take on the challenges of a financial accounting role.

So, if you're looking to boost your employability, make sure to invest time in developing your communication skills. Practice writing clear and concise emails, work on your phone etiquette, and don't be afraid to engage with others. By doing so, you'll not only increase your chances of landing the job, but you'll also set yourself up for success in future roles.

​Career transitioning?

For individuals considering a career transition into the accounting and finance field, a lack of tangible commercial experience can be intimidating. However, transferable skills and upskilling can outweigh the lack of experience.

In interviews, it is essential to ask about the training and progression opportunities offered by the company. You can also ask about the success of previous junior hires and their current position within the organisation. It is crucial to ensure that the job is a good fit and offers room for growth instead of being a dead-end position. Additionally, many companies provide study support, such as CPA funding, for employees to advance their careers further. With the right mindset and preparation, you can embark on a fulfilling career in the accounting and finance industry, even with minimal commercial experience.

You might be wondering what to expect in terms of salary if you're just starting out?

Salaries for entry-level roles have gone up recently, with some companies offering $65 - 70,000 plus super for an accounting graduate with a few months of working experience.

Even if you don't have any office experience, a basic office admin role or a three-month internship in an accounting practice can help you gain hands-on working experience and improve your Microsoft Office Suite and accounting software skills.

So, if you're starting out in accounting, consider these options to give yourself an edge in the job market.

Watch our Hot tips video series discussing these points, in our video library.

​Contact me today for advice, and opportunities in the Sydney area.

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