It doesn’t matter if you’re a recent graduate, in between employers or looking for a different role in the middle of your career — a job search can be almost a full-time undertaking. To keep track of everything, you need to manage your time effectively with job search strategies that work.
Not only do you have to peruse job boards and sift through screens of postings, but there are applications to fill out, cover letters to compose, accounting resumes to customize and lots of emails to write.
There aren’t any magic formulas to landing the accounting job of your dreams, but here are five ways to streamline the process and get results using these job search strategies.
1. Set career goals and be focused
In your eagerness to find that first job or move on from your current employer, are you applying for every open accounting position that crosses your path? If so, you need a new strategy to use your time effectively.
Start by clearly defining your goals and mapping out a career path. Make sure you know what you’re after by answering the following questions:
- Where do you see yourself in five years? In 10 years?
- Which areas of accounting are you passionate about, and how should you gain more expertise in those fields?
- Are you willing to commute long distances or even relocate for a job?
- What sort of salary and benefits do you need or aspire to in your career?
- Do you want to travel and work longer hours to get ahead quickly, or is work-life balance more important to you at this stage in your life?
Use these answers to map out your short- and long-term career, and apply only for those positions that help you pursue your desired professional and personal path. For example, if your goal is to become a tax accountant for a public accounting firm, a job as a management accountant for a government agency would not move you in the direction you desire. A focused search is less time-consuming and works better than a scattergun approach.
2. Make and stick to a schedule
Having a plan in place can help you stay organized in your search and makes for more effective time management. If you’re already working full time, carve out an hour or two in the early morning, after work and/or on weekends to peruse job boards, research companies and fine-tune your resume.
If you’re unemployed, you have the luxury of investing even more time and effort. Block out a day to really polish your social media profile, and then connect with friends, former professors and past colleagues on this professional social networking tool. Whenever possible, schedule activities on your calendar that propel you toward your career goals. Some examples:
- Get your CPA or keep up with your state’s CPA continuing professional education (CPE) requirements.
- Work toward another financial certification or college degree.
- Take classes to become more proficient in industry-wide software like Excel and QuickBooks.
Having a schedule of meaningful activities is not only effective time management, but it can help you remain motivated and optimistic.
3. Expand your networking activities
Hiring managers are inundated with resumes from people they don’t know. To get your foot in the door and increase your chances of getting an interview, you have to connect like a pro. Networking is a vital part of your search. Discreetly reach out to trusted friends, colleagues and former classmates so they’re aware you’re exploring your career options. Before sending your application to a particular company, search social media to see if you know anyone who works there.
Consider asking for an informational interview with one of your connections. Schedule catch-up coffee dates and attend local meetings. Go to parties and other social events. When others ask what you do, tell them about your background and mention that you're interested in exploring other options. Be sure to have a 30-second elevator pitch ready, as well as plenty of business cards.
4. Track your applications
With all the moving parts of an accounting job search, it’s easy to lose track of your efforts and activities. Practice effective time management by keeping track of them all in a spreadsheet. Include the company name, contact person, job title, posting, relevant URLs, date you applied and follow-up notes. This handy chart also lets you know how long it’s been since you submitted your application or had an interview, so you’ll know when to follow up. In addition, tracking your search efforts prevents you from unintentionally applying to the same job twice.
5. Work with a recruiter
Whether searching for your first or next finance job, it’s a good idea to sign up with a specialized staffing agency. Recruiters interview you to understand who you are, what skills you possess and which positions would suit you. Then they get to work, matching you with potential employers and sending you on interviews. Additionally, since they work regularly with a wide network of companies, they know about certain job openings before they reach the job boards — giving you an advantage over other applicants.
A great way to hone your skills, get experience and establish vital connections is to take a temporary accounting job.
A job search takes time — probably more than you wish to spend — but it need not consume all your free hours. With effective time management and smart strategies, you can minimize the effort and maximize the chances of landing a great accounting job and the career of your dreams.
Upload your resume with Accountemps, and let our job placement experts pair you with a company that matches your skills and career goals.
Editor's note: This post was originally published in 2016 and was updated recently with current information.