Tips for newly qualified ACAs seeking a role during the coronavirus pandemic

Apr 02, 2020
The market for newly qualified Chartered Accountants has changed in recent months. During 2019 and into the beginning of 2020 the job market was strong for newly qualified ACAs coming out of both small and large practices. However, the increased uncertainty of recent times has reduced recruitment activity across all sectors significantly.
There is no doubt that recruitment volumes are down but it is not all negative news and we are still seeing that some organisations are actively recruiting and have been proactively using technology to help them do so. 
If you are currently seeking a new role, here are some practical tips to support you:

Invest time in research and self-reflection

Your first move as a qualified Chartered Accountant is an important one, don't take it lightly. Research the market to see what opportunities are currently available. Reflect on what your core strengths and weaknesses are and how you can best leverage these to your benefit in your next career move. The Career Pathway competency framework on the Chartered Accountants Ireland website will support you with this process. You should also consider where your interests lie and what it is that motivates you and what you enjoy most. This may mean a conducting a certain amount of self-analysis. It is worth investing the time now as this process will help you to identify the career move that is right for you.
Take a timeout to do a self-analysis SWOT document. This is separate to your CV. Know what you are really good at and what you have been praised for in your traineeship and start refining example stories highlighting these strengths. 

Invest time in yourself

We know the market will be dampened for another few months but it's certainly not time to panic. Opportunities will still come up as the market recovers and you will still need to be discerning about your next move and plan your career path. The current situation allows you time to decide which route you want to take either within practice, financial services or industry and what style of role you feel will fit you best.

Consider all the options

Keep an open mind and consider how you could benefit from staying on in practice and building on your experience further. Another option could be to consider a contract role as there are likely to be more options in this area initially as the market recovers. Contract roles provide an attractive option in term of building on your experience and gaining exposure to new sectors. This experience can then position you more strongly for your next move into a permanent role. Also contract roles can also become permanent over time so it could prove to be a useful way of trying out a role and organisation before committing longer term.

Approach your next move like a project

Treat your next move like a key project and set up a spreadsheet to manage and track your activities and progress.  Consider what your top 10 preferred companies to work for are? Monitor and track them to see what roles they might be recruiting for in the coming weeks and months.
Ensure you research the recruitment agency market and identify the most reputable recruiters. Look for recommendations or referrals from your peers and then set about connecting with them. For the relationship to work with the recruiter you must feel that you connect with them, that they understand your skills set and what you are looking for. It is all about building a trusted relationship with them and check in with them regularly. 

Work on your CV

Take time now to put together a world class CV. Seek advice in relation to how best to showcase your skills and experience. Tailor your CV to the roles and sectors that you are interested in. Remember a member of the Chartered Accountants Ireland Careers team can support you with this important task.

Update your LinkedIn profile

Developing your personal brand will be an essential part of developing your career in the long-term and now is a good time to invest in this process. Increasing your visibility can also help you with your job search.
 A key part of this is ensuring your LinkedIn profile is up-to-date. Make sure you have ticked the box in your Account Settings that you are open to new opportunities. Connect with relevant people on LinkedIn to expand your personal online network. Follow companies on LinkedIn that are of interest to you. Similarly set up your job alerts from the various jobs boards including LI so that you are aware of the new opportunities that are coming to the market.

Stay close to your peer group and mentors

At this time it's important to stay close to your peer group. Speak to your colleagues and friends. As their contract ends talk to them about what they're seeing in the market and what they're doing as a next step. Staying in regular contact with them will also act as a support network which is really important at a time like this. This could also be a good time to get involved with the Chartered Accountants Ireland Young Professional group as it is a great resource to help you develop your network and to gain support from other members.
Reach out to your mentors and get their view on current circumstances and suggested courses of action. Many will have come though challenging times in their career paths and may have wise words to impart. 
Stay close to Chartered Accountants Ireland and look for every opportunity to get involved with us whether it's the Young Professionals online events or upcoming CPD webinars.  

Become interview-ready

Perhaps consider your interview technique now that you have time to perfect it. Take into account that any interview that you do secure is likely to be a virtual or phone interview and will require additional preparation to ensure that you perform well and make the most of any interview opportunity (See our website for some tips on this).

Look at ways to differentiate yourself

The job market will likely be more competitive over the coming months so you need to look at ways in which you can differentiate yourself from other candidates at the same level. Consider is this your exam track record, the clients you have worked with , the combination of your skills or indeed your energy level, ambition and tenacity? It would also be your systematic approach to your job search, your CV and interview preparation. Whatever it is that helps you stand out needs to be leveraged fully to help you stand out from other candidates. 

Be patient and realistic

No one is clear at this stage how long the market will take to recover so it is important to be as patient as possible and set realistic expectations. Having unrealistic expectations will mean that you may be setting yourself up for disappointment that can have an impact on your focus and motivation levels as well as your mental well-being.

Manage your well-being

The next few weeks and months will be challenging for some so it is important to prioritise your well-being and self-care and ensure that you are building strategies into your plan to help with you with this. The Chartered Accountants Ireland Careers Team and CA Support are available to support you so please do reach out to .

Our contact details are as follows:
Karin Lanigan 01 637 7331
Dave Riordan 01 637 7251