We have had many students in the past (and still get asked now!) “How can I get a job in accountancy if I haven’t got any accounting work experience?” It’s a real problem and we understand that. But at the end of the day, if businesses are looking to recruit people with accountancy experience but won’t/can’t provide work experience, you end up going round in circles.
Well that’s why we are hoping this will help you get the experience you need!
Unable to get the work experience!
If you are unable to get work experience, then how about getting in touch with charities to see if they could do with some help? What about becoming the Treasurer of a small group or club e.g. pre-school group, sports club and so on. The smaller groups will tend to only write up the cash book (money in/money out) so nothing complicated (this is something I did myself before I got into accounting – more years ago than I care to remember!)
Will training help?
Of course, it will! At the same time as work experience (or as soon as you can), get yourself started off by undertaking some training – even if it is the AAT Foundation Bookkeeping course. This doesn’t just help you with your CV, this also shows that you are willing to learn and work hard to get your career.
When shall I start sending my CV?
Start sending your CV out to as many employers as you can and as soon as you can (with a covering letter) – at the top of the qualifications section of your CV, state that you are working towards your AAT qualification.
Complete your AAT Foundation Bookkeeping Certificate and then send out another letter to the same employers explaining that you have now achieved your AAT Bookkeeping Certificate and have now started on your AAT Foundation Certificate in Accounting or AAT Advanced Diploma in Accounting – talk about the useful skills you have already developed and if possible, how you have been able to apply these e.g. volunteering. Sending your CV to them again will also show that you are determined and very committed to a career in accounting. The more times an employer sees your name on their desk, then the more likely you are to be remembered
How else can I gain the experience?
Look for an Apprenticeship! Apprenticeships are a fantastic way to “earn while you learn” and get a head start in your career with no prior experience! As long as you are over the age of 16 then you can become an apprentice and get your foot in the door of your career. Follow the steps as above (writing to them with your CV etc.) and really show that you are keen and that this is the career you want. You can find out more about our Apprenticeships (Devon, Cornwall and Somerset) here.
Here’s an article by the AAT that you might find helpful, entitled:
“How to gain experience when you can’t get work experience”
I want to change my career…
If you are planning on moving from your current career path into a role within accounting; a further aspect on your CV should be set aside to discuss your ‘transferable skills’ e.g. useful skills that would be an asset to any business, such as:
- People skills
- Self-reliance skills
- General skills
And this is where your training comes in handy! Showing that you are willing to learn for your new career.
The key point about solving your ‘Catch 22’ is to get started now – talk to as many organisations as you can and make a start on getting yourself qualified.
“The great French Marshall Lyautey once asked his gardener to plant a tree. The gardener objected that the tree was slow-growing and would not reach maturity for 100 years. The Marshall replied, ‘In that case, there is no time to lose; plant it this afternoon!'”
John F Kennedy (1917-1963)