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8 10-Minute To-Do’s to Prepare Public Accountants for a Job Search During Busy Season

Are you ready to make a move from public to industry but waiting for the end of busy season? Get ahead of your competition and begin preparing for your job search now.

“I’m going to make a move, but not until after busy season.” As a public accountant, have you ever said this to a recruiter or potential employer? With less than a month left before the end of busy season, the last thing on your mind if you work in public is starting a search for a new job. You know you are ready to transition to industry, but making the time seems almost impossible. Most public accountants we have worked with over the years are lucky to get home in time to eat dinner before the sun goes down, let alone spend hours exploring job boards, redrafting their resume, and speaking with recruiters.

What are the benefits to starting your job search early?

Get a head start on your competition. Save yourself time later on.

Every year throughout March and early April, we speak with hundreds of public accountants across the greater St. Louis area who despite wanting to make a move, wish to wait until the end of busy season.

That being said, there are many ways public accountants can prepare for a job search. Just like with most big projects you work on, a job search can be broken down into several smaller tasks to prepare in advance. Completing these tasks not only sets you ahead of your competition, or peers in public, it also can save you hours later on.

Here are 8 10-minute to-do’s you should have on your list. Complete them during lunch or over a well-deserved break during your day’s long work hours.

  1. Exercise #1: Write down your answers to these five questions.
    The first step in every successful job search is clearly defining what you are looking for from your next job and establishing realistic expectations. Answering these five questions will give you strategic direction as you begin to explore opportunities and speak with recruiters.

    1. What is your ideal next job?
      What are you looking for from your next job? Are you seeking higher pay? Better work/life balance? Be realistic with yourself when establishing expectations. Most public accountants with 2-3 years of experience generally transition into senior-level roles in industry. On occasion, accountants will land a sweet controller gig, but this is generally through an existing client.
    2. Are you planning on exploring audit, tax, financial accounting, or FP&A jobs?
      Clearly establish what function(s) you enjoy working in most and, more importantly, have experience working in. If you’ve worked solely in audit for the past 3 years, chances are you will struggle to find a job in tax. That being said, audit and tax professionals routinely transition into financial accounting and financial planning and analysis, or FP&A, roles.
    3. What makes you qualified for each?
      Once you’ve determined which function(s) you are interested exploring job opportunities in, write down WHY you are qualified to work in each. Leverage past responsibilities and projects to reinforce your skill sets.
    4. Where are you searching for a job?
      Determine where you are willing to look for employment. Are you open to relocation or would you prefer to stay local? If you are staying local, what parts of the city are you willing to travel to? What is your ideal commute time?  
    5. What is your desired salary?
      The last question is, for some, the most important. What is your ideal salary? In addition to your ideal or target salary, what is the minimum amount you will accept to transition? What kinds of roles or opportunities would you be willing to accept less than your ideal salary for? Are you unsure of what is a realistic salary to expect? Contact us or a recruiter to find out.
  2. Exercise #2: Find five “dream jobs” online and identify common keywords.
    Once you’ve completed Exercise #1, it is now time to learn more about the job market. Utilize LinkedIn, Indeed, or Monster to explore current opportunities. Don’t limit yourself by distance. At this point in your job search, you are looking to understand what aspects of a job opportunity you find most attractive. Identify common keywords. For example, if you pull five dream jobs, what keywords or characteristics do they have in common? Are you seeing “flexible work week” in all of them? Or maybe “revenue recognition”? Remember, as with most “markets,” accounting and finance opportunities fall into cyclical trends throughout the year. If you are not able to identify five “dream jobs,” take note of this. You may have to either wait or expand upon current expectations for your next job.
  3. Exercise #3: Decide on your references and contact them.
    Do you have references prepared or do you just have them in mind? As a courtesy, you will want to contact several references in advance and request their permission to use them as references throughout your job search. Reach out now via email and prepare your reference list in advance to save you time later on.
  4. Exercise #4: Download Resume Assistant for Word.
    As busy season draws to a close, you will most likely struggle to keep up and even breaks will seem impossible to make time for. Here’s a quick exercise which takes less than five minutes: Download Resume Assistant for Word. This unique tool combines the power of MS Word with the intelligence of the world’s largest recruitment platform, LinkedIn, to make preparing your resume easier.
  5. Exercise #5: Update your most recent resume.
    Once you’ve downloaded Resume Assistant for Word, you will now want to begin updating your resume. If you are considering opportunities across more than one function (aka audit, tax, financial accounting or FP&A), you will want to prepare a resume for each. Although creating one resume is easiest, it decreases your probability of receiving an interview later on because it doesn’t focus specifically on the skill sets and past experiences which matter most to hiring managers.   
  6. Exercise #6: Update your LinkedIn Profile.
    When’s the last time you updated your LinkedIn profile? Even if you are not actively utilizing LinkedIn throughout your job search, you will want to ensure it is up to date. Over 94% of internal and external recruiters utilize LinkedIn when searching for talent. By updating your work history, adding in corresponding responsibilities and asking a few colleagues to leave you references, you set yourself apart from most candidates in accounting and finance. As a “living” resume, your LinkedIn profile also can answer questions for employers regarding your past experiences which are excluded from your resume.
  7. Exercise #7: Prepare template thank you notes.
    Thank you notes? Who does that anymore? Believe it or not, candidates who send thank you notes to employers they interview with are more likely to be remembered than those who do not. Go to Target and buy a pack of thank you cards. Draft a template “thank you” on another piece of paper, leaving space for you to add the recipient’s name and a brief sentence customized to your interview later on.
  8. Exercise #8: Identify 1 to 2 recruiters you trust.
    Now before you glaze over this last exercise, hear us out. In a recent publication by the Harvard Business Review, editor Lydia Frank, a VP at Payscale, noted that, “while employee referrals led to higher median salaries than for candidates who said they ‘knew about the company and searched for jobs’ or applied through an online career website, the highest pay went to candidates who said they came in through a recruiter.“ Recruiters are a vital component of the job search process for job seekers. Not only do they have inside information regarding the latest opportunities within the market, they also provide informative feedback to improve your chances of getting hired. They are a partner. Start researching trusted recruiters in your market or ask former colleagues who they worked with during their transition.

We hope you have enjoyed the latest Burchard & Associates blog! For more hiring and career advice, visit http://wise-coast.flywheelsites.com/hr-blog/. If you have questions or would like to learn more regarding our accounting and finance recruiting services, please contact us at info@exechunter.com.


Burchard & Associates provides a personal approach to accounting and tax recruitment for St. Louis and beyond. We are ready to listen to YOU.

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