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Degree not always enough to land job in accounting and finance

A recent survey confirms the “Catch-22” that every entry-level job seeker seems to face: you can’t get a job without experience, but you can’t get experience without a job.

Eight out of 10 chief financial officers (CFOs) interviewed said it is important for accounting and finance graduates to have gained work experience in the field while in university.

The survey was developed by Accountemps, a specialized staffing service for temporary accounting, finance and bookkeeping professionals. It was conducted by an independent research firm and is based on telephone interviews with more than 270 CFOs across Canada.

“In today’s business environment, companies are looking for new hires who can contribute immediately, even in entry-level roles,” said Kathryn Bolt, president for Accountemps’ Canadian operations.

“Summer internships may still be offered by companies not actively hiring and can provide solid work experience and the potential to become a full-time job,” Bolt said.

For new entrants to the job market, she advises candidates to be flexible, proactive and creative.

“A stand-out resume that highlights a strong work ethic, sound communication skills and technical proficiency through internships, volunteer work and temporary employment will help recent graduates land a job in a competitive market.”

Accountemps offers five tips for new graduates looking to broaden their work experience:

  • Consider an internship. Taking an internship when a full-time position isn’t available may be a new graduate’s best bet to gain hands-on learning in the workplace. Interns not only develop essential workplace skills, but they also build their professional network.
  • Try part time. Part-time work is a great way to gain experience and showcase skills to a potential employer who may not have the resources to extend a full-time offer right away.
  • Look for temporary options. Staffing firms frequently have temporary assignments for which students or recent university graduates may be a match.
  • Volunteer your services. Helping out a community organization or trade association in your field is a great way to keep your experience current and expand your network.
  • Make the most of your current job. Even if your current job isn’t in your field or industry of choice, look for creative ways to enhance your skills. Volunteer for assignments beyond your job description. Most employers today are happy to have an employee willing to take the initiative.