Success Magazine recent published some alarming statistics related to the under-25 age group. The current unemployment rate for the under-25 group is at 54%. Over 84% of college graduates are moving back in with their parents and accepting positions with low pay that do not require a degree. Although I am just one person, I want to do my best to take my experience in working with college graduates and help them to stand out amongst their peers. We are going to discuss what the best entry level jobs are in accounting & finance and how to get them.
First, let’s take a general overview and then we will get into the specifics. I want to discuss with you the difference between soft skills and hard skills and why you need to master both to get hired. Hard skills is the technical sides of doing the job. Are you gifted to work with numbers? Does looking into the details of things excite you? Do you have analytical abilities that employers would find insightful? Those are the hard skills. We get taught these in college and if you are in your gifts and callings then most of it comes natural to you.
Soft skills is an entirely different discussion. It has to do with your interpersonal skills and the social side. We often do not get taught the soft skill side of things. Soft skills can really help you to land the job and differentiate yourself from the other 35 applicants that can also do the job. Here are a few soft skills you need to have:
- Initiative – employers want to see that you are a go-getter. You do not make excuses and you are not looking to just do enough to fit in. You want to give your best everyday without excuse. You are not looking to punch the clock, milk the clock, or work for the weekends. You understand that people who get ahead in their career love what they do and work hard at it.
- Leadership - hiring managers also want to see confidence in you. Whether or not they place you into a leadership role in the first few years or not they want to see someone who has a positive attitude and is a good example for others to follow.
- Sense of Competitiveness - It is good to have a little fire that keeps you moving. You want to give the impression that you are always growing, always getting better, and want to give your very best all of the time.
- Communication Skills – they are also looking to see if you fit in with the team, get along with people, and are genuinely likable. Employers hire people they like. They do not hire people just because they can do the job.
Entry Level Accounting Jobs
Now that we have covered the soft skills that you need to possess. Let’s dive into the hard skills you will need and specifically the ones you need when it comes to entry level accounting jobs. Let’s take a moment and define the specific accounting jobs we are referring to. There are basically 4 entry level jobs for accounting majors out there. They are public accounting, corporate accounting, internal auditing, and government accounting. Each of them have their advantages and disadvantages and I covered them in an earlier post about accounting career choices. If you want to be in the top %10 of available accounting majors, then follow these guidelines:
- Stay in school and get your graduate degree. The CPA requirements are causing a big push in this area. More and more students are staying in school and getting their Masters in Accounting. Mostly due to the fact that they want the hours to sit for the CPA. When it comes to offering entry level accounting jobs with no experience employers feel more comfortable going with those who have extended education experience.
- Having the CPA designation can place you in the top 10%. I realize this point all depends upon the state requirements where you live, but getting your hours and sitting for the CPA can set you a part from the pack. It shows initiative, drive, determination, and leadership. All those qualities that we discussed earlier.
- Gain internship experience and get it on the resume. After working with fresh accounting graduates for over 8 years I can tell you that an internship matters. More accounting graduates get hired with internship experience than without. Display your internship on your resume to show you do have some real world experience.
- Learn how to develop a network. It is going to be important for your career to learn how to network. Maybe it begins by rubbing shoulders with recruiters in the accounting field.
Entry Level Finance Jobs
Now let’s take a closer look at finance entry level jobs. Heading this career route is much different than accounting. Although, there is crossover at times between the two, they start of very different. Most employers will not hire a finance graduate for an entry level accounting job. If you are a finance grad seeking entry level finance jobs then your entry point will look much different. Here are what I consider to be the best entry level finance jobs: investment banker, financial planner, broker, government finance, loan officer, and trader.
Did you notice that financial analyst did not make the list? in my experience most employers want financial analyst to already have some experience first. It is a rare thing to move right into being a financial analyst. In fact, most financial analyst start with accounting experience and make the cross over into finance. Entry level jobs for finance majors have some guidelines as well:
- It is critical that you learn to target your resume. The finance titles that I listed above cast a much wider net than the accounting job titles. If you are going to obtain a good entry level finance job then it is very important that you have a few different resumes. You need to have separate resumes for broker, financial planner, and investment banker. Each should display (as best as you can) why you would be a good fit for that particular position. There is no “one size fits all” finance resume.
- Networking is also important for you if you are going the finance route. You have to become an “industry insider” in order to overcome the “no experience” tag. Convince the hiring manager that you know people in the industry and you know all about your subject inside and out. This will give them the confidence to hire you.
- Be prepared for the job interview. You need to be well prepared going in. Your presentation is so very important in the finance field. You will be the “face” of the company to their clients. You have to nail the oral and visual presentation in order to land entry level finance jobs. Many finance graduates miss this critical point. Employers are asking, “Would they represent our company well to our clients?”
Despite the current high rate of unemployment for the under-25 crowd, I still believe that accounting and finance are the best entry level jobs for college graduates. Every industry needs professionals that are working the numbers and helping them navigate in both good times and bad. If you are discouraged at the moment in the lack of progress in your job search, dust yourself off get back in the ring and keep fighting!
- Linkedin Job Search: 3 Things You MUST Do! (CPACareerCoach.com)
- Seven Jobs You Can Get With an Associate’s Degree in Business (distance-education.org)
- The Key Missing Ingredient in Your Job Search (CPACareerCoach.com)
- Customizing Your Resume Increases Your Chances (news.dice.com)
- Young people hit hardest by sluggish economy (thestar.com)