How to Apply These Job Hunting Tips to Win the 'Wow' Factor

By Robert Half on December 21, 2016 at 6:00pm

You’re on the search for a new job in accounting and finance, and you really want to succeed. How can you find the job hunting tips that will help you stand out from the pack and advance your career?

“Employers are looking for job candidates who provide the ‘wow’ factor and can immediately demonstrate the value they bring,” said Bill Driscoll, district president for Accountemps. “Sending a generic resume or showing up for the interview unprepared makes the hiring manager think the applicant has little interest in being hired.”

A new Accountemps survey shows job seekers the specific mistakes that CFOs find in candidates' resumes, cover letters and interviews.

Read more about the Top Job Search Blunders in the infographic, below.

What can you to do impress potential employers in your search for a job to advance your career? Let’s look at what you can do with your application materials and your interview with these job hunting tips.

Your application materials

  • Tip 1. Have a clean online presence — Conduct a search of your name in all the major search engines 'and conduct an online audit of your social media page. Double-check your privacy settings, remove any posts that could be considered inappropriate, and put in some work to update your profile. Now begin your search!
  • Tip 2. Customize your resume and cover letter — Get an edge over the other job seekers by creating a custom resume and cover letter for each position and employer. Hiring managers want to know you’re not just generating emails from a resume and cover-letter mill.
  • Tip 3. Address a real person — Don't ever write these words: To Whom It May Concern.
  • Tip 4. Make sure your copy is clean — Here’s a test for you. See if you can spot the typos in these real-life job applications: Job Duties: Assisted company executives with travel arraignments. Communicate financial projects to steakholders. Education: Currently perusing a master’s degree.
  • Tip 5. Read your materials out loud — After you look at your resume and cover letter with an eagle eye, use spell-check, then print and read everything out loud. Have a trusted friend, mentor or family member proofread for mistakes or formatting issues. Error-free copy shows your attention to detail, which is likely something you’ll need on the job once the search is over!
  • Tip 6. Focus on your accomplishments — Stick to the facts, recruiters advise, when it comes to your application materials. Emphasize your professional achievements, career credentials and work experience. Avoid superlatives, misrepresentations, over-personalizing, vagueness, irrelevance, slang and clever word play. Don’t drone on about your hobbies and outside interests.

Find out more: What Your Accounting Resume Should Look Like This Year and Do You Still Need an Accountant Cover Letter?

From resume to interview

If you pass the resume and cover-letter phase of your search, you’ll make it to the interview. Here’s are five ways to interview to impress:

  • Tip 1. Research the company — Do a search of the company and learn as much as you can beforehand. Do a Google search, see if any of your LinkedIn connections work there and examine the firm’s website. Do some digging to find out the history of the business and companies it competes with, and search for news stories that have been written about the organization or its top executives.

Think about how you might answer the question: What do you know about our company, and why do you want to work here?

  • Tip 2. Prepare to discuss your skills, experience and career goals — You may need to practice highlighting your qualifications and background. What’s most pertinent to a career in accounting and finance? What fits the job description? Keep in mind that employers will want to see how your expertise and efforts can contribute to company or departmental priorities. Don’t brag or be wishy-washy.

Try scripting your answer to this question (remembering to be employer-centered): What are your long-term goals, and how does this job fit in with your career plan?

  • Tip 3. Be ready for a salary discussion — Research typical salary ranges in your specific area of expertise and with your level of experience. Understanding market trends will help you know what your skills and experience are worth.

Visit the Salary Center, where you'll be able to adjust pay levels for jobs in your city with the Salary Calculator, and get your own copy of the Salary Guide.

  • Tip 4. Be punctual — Late arrivals are a sure-fire way to show a lack of care for the interviewer’s time, and while being late may seem like an obvious no-no, CFOs in the Accountemps survey said it’s one of the most common mistakes they see candidates make.

It’s better to be too early than even a minute late. Try to arrive five or 10 minutes ahead of your appointment, and if you get to the office earlier than that, you can always take a walk, wait in the car or visit a local coffee shop.

  • Tip 5. Show enthusiasm and ask questions — If you think you want this job, you should show genuine interest. One way to do that — and also to find out if this is the right situation for you — is to ask questions of the interviewer when it’s appropriate.

Consider asking: What is the opportunity for advancement from this role? What do you most enjoy about working here? Can you tell me what an average day would be like?

Finally, know this: You don’t have go about your job search alone. You can partner with a staffing firm, which will provide you with information and resources, and work to open doors for you.


Top Job Search Blunders infographic

Top Job Search Blunders

Avoid These Mistakes to Land the Job

CFOs were asked, “What do you think is the most common mistake candidates make in their application materials?” Their responses:*

33% The materials are not customized to the job the candidate is applying for
24% The materials contain typos or poor grammar
21% The materials focus on job duties and not accomplishments
21% The materials include irrelevant information

CFOs were also asked, “What do you think is the most common mistake candidates make during job interviews? Their responses:*

27% Little or no knowledge of the company
22% Unprepared to discuss skills and experience
16% Unprepared to discuss career plans or goals
16% Lack of enthusiasm
11% Late arrival
9% Lack of eye contact

* Total does not equal 100 percent due to rounding.

Source: Accountemps survey of more than 2,200 CFOs from a stratified random sample of companies in more than 20 of the largest metropolitan areas.

© 2016 Accountemps. A Robert Half Company. An Equal Opportunity Employer M/F/Disability/Veterans.

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