The new year has traditionally been a good time to begin something new — a new diet, a new exercise routine, a new commitment to controlling personal spending. But when it comes to finding a new job, you don't need that kind of demarcation.
Accounting and finance professionals, especially top performers, are confident in their career prospects and exploring their options, according to the Salary Guide for Accounting and Finance from Robert Half.
Employers, on the other hand, are challenged to attract top talent in what’s now considered a candidate-driven market for accounting and finance professionals.
So, regardless of the time of year, make that resolution to get out there, start your search and discover what awaits you and your career. Here are five suggestions for finding a new job before the year is over:
1. Update your resume
First things first: You’d be shooting yourself in the foot if you began a new job search with an old resume and outdated cover letter. Refresh your work information with career milestone updates, but also consider whether a bigger revamp is needed for your resume. Styles and hiring-manager preferences change from time to time, so you’ll want your resume and cover letters to keep up with the times.
2. Focus on companies first, then positions
Be selective when responding to job ads. Research your target companies see whether you’d be a good fit with them and they’d be a good fit for your career. Focus on a search for an employer who exhibits the qualities you seek and a new job where you’re most likely to thrive.
3. Access your network and new ones
As the saying goes, “It’s not what you know, it’s who you know.” Knowing how to make connections at professional conferences and networking events can be a tremendous skill and a resource that can help open doors to new jobs. Keep in mind that your most valuable contacts may not be the obvious ones; i.e., those working in accounting. But that stay-at-home mom next door may have a brother who’s a chief financial officer at a growing company.
If you’ve already tapped your network, it’s time to search for new connections. Go to meetings of local accounting and business groups. You’ll meet people while also staying on top of industry and career trends in your market.
If this makes you squirm, read 5 Professional Networking Tips for Non-Networkers.
4. Act like a marketer
Now is not the time to be shy. Speak up and let people know about your job search. Brand yourself with a short elevator pitch about your accounting background and job goals, such as this: “You may remember I worked in accounting for XYZ Corporation. I’m actively looking for a similar position. I have 10 years of experience in cost accounting, but I’m also considering general accounting jobs. Do you know of any companies that are hiring?”
That pitch will also come in handy when your search leads to your first interview, not to mention when questions about salary come up in the second or third interview,
5. Consider temporary work
One way to keep your experience current, make new connections, build your skill set and earn an income all at the same time is to start working as a temp. A recruiter from a staffing firm that specializes in temporary accounting and finance positions can help you find opportunities that suit your background and career interests. Interim assignments allow you to get your foot in the door in a company and show an employer your potential. That’s why many of these assignments turn into full-time jobs.
The dawn of a new year is brimming with opportunity. If you’ve been thinking you’d like a new job to be in your future, apply yourself. Now’s the time.
Editor's note: This post was originally published in 2014 and was updated recently to reflect current information.