Been There, Done That? You're Hired!

Industry experience may be your ticket to your next job. According to a recent Accountemps survey, when presented with accounting or finance job candidates who possess similar qualifications, 35 percent of chief financial officers said an applicant's industry experience would tip the balance over such attributes as people skills and software proficiency. This is up significantly from five years ago when industry experience was cited by only 20 percent of respondents in a similar Accountemps survey.

All things being equal, hiring managers today seek employees who can hit the ground running and quickly contribute to the bottom line without significant training. Executives value those who understand the issues and compliance mandates specific to their business and industry — whether it's information technology or manufacturing.

How can you gain industry experience?

  • Get certified. Job seekers should pursue professional certifications to increase their marketability and exposure to particular industries. By enhancing your qualifications, you not only improve your chances of employment but also may command a higher starting salary. According to the 2015 Salary Guide from Robert Half, accounting and finance professionals who possess a certification can earn a starting salary up to 15 percent higher than the average for the position.

  • Do your research. Stay up to date on relevant trends and issues by reviewing accounting and finance publications, as well as business journals, magazines, blogs and newsletters targeting the specific industry. Trade groups often provide information on their websites and in their publications, too.

  • Expand your network. Networking is key to learning about specific industries. Joining a professional association and interacting with fellow members who are involved in other business sectors can provide exposure to current trends.

  • Seek temporary jobs and internships. Temporary work and internships can give you valuable experience in a specific industry. Plus, you can expand your network and potentially turn these opportunities into full-time jobs.

During your job search, highlight your industry experience in your resume, cover letter and during interviews. Showcase your expertise by providing specific examples of successes that directly relate to the company’s industry.

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