When you are at university the importance of work experience is often spoken about. Insight days, internships, placements, all can be valuable when it comes to getting a job at the end of your university career.
However, what if you don’t have any work experience? There could be many reasons for this, perhaps you spent your summers traveling and learning about other cultures, perhaps you were working, or maybe you were just preparing for the year ahead.
So how do you get an accountancy graduate job without work experience?
In this article we look at common entry requirements for an accountancy graduate scheme, how to increase your chances of getting the job and alternative forms of work experience you may want to consider.
What are the entry requirements for an accountancy graduate scheme?
Entry requirements for accountancy graduate schemes vary from employer to employer, and the only blanket requirements are five GCSE’s A-C.
However, most graduate recruiters require a 2.2 degree or above, and at least a C in Maths at GCSE level. Some employers ask for a higher degree classification and some ask for a B in Maths at GCSE level.
You may even find that some employers ask for a degree in a finance based subject, but a majority of graduate employers do not have a preference in regards to which subject you have a degree in.
As mentioned, entry requirements vary from employer to employer so if you do have an employer in mind it would be best to check their individual requirements. You can do this by looking in our online guide or in our Employer Directory.
Do accountancy employers require work experience?
It is no secret that accountancy employers value work experience, but it is by no means a pre-requisite.
Employers see work experience as a sign that you are committed to your future career and will know that the skills learnt on this work experience will be applicable in their workplace.
However, this does not mean that everyone who has accountancy work experience will secure a place on a graduate scheme, likewise it doesn’t mean that if you don’t have accountancy work experience then you won’t be able to find yourself on a graduate scheme come autumn.
How to increase your chances of securing a place on an accountancy graduate scheme
First and foremost, employers are looking for the right candidate, both in ability and professional qualities. Therefore, the best way to increase your chances of securing a place on an accountancy graduate scheme is to show your key skills to the recruiter to convince them that you are the right person for the job.
And how do you show your key skills? A good application and CV. Your CV is essentially a sales pitch to an employer so you need to make sure that it is as good as it can be. You will need to ensure that you demonstrate all the essential and desired qualities outlined in the job description. You will also need to highlight where you have demonstrated analytical ability, numeracy and communication skills. Any key achievements, be it professional or academic, should also be highlighted as well as any professional qualifications you may already have or may be working towards.
If you do not have any work experience, think about any extra curricular activities or part-time work that you may have done that may be relevant to a career in accountancy. For example, stock takes or being treasurer for a society. We go into a bit more detail about alternative forms of work experience below.
You can read more application and interview tips here.
Alternative forms of work experience
Just because you haven’t got any accountancy work experience, doesn’t mean you don’t have any work experience at all. There are plenty of other things that you can do, or may have done, where the skills developed can be applied in a professional environment.
If you have volunteered, think about what skills you might have gained that can be used in the workplace. These could be communication skills, an understanding of how business works or even working as part of a team.
If you wanted to go one step further, volunteer as a treasurer. This could be at a university society or a small local charity. This will give you experience in budgeting, basic accounts and expenditure and will prove that you can balance work and study.
You can find local volunteering opportunities here.
Part time work
If you have a part time job, or even a full time job in the holidays, then you can apply the skills you have learnt and highlight these on your CV.
For example, if you work at a retailer then you may want to get involved in a stock take. This requires some key skills that you will need on an audit as well as gaining an understanding of a commercial business. It also shows you are also able to take on extra responsibility.
If you work in an office during your summer break, then there are many office skills that will be transferable. These could be as simple as having an understanding of Microsoft Office or go further and could involve communicating with stakeholders, something that is extremely valuable when training to become an accountant.
Your gap year
What did you do on your gap year? If you have travelled, or perhaps taught English abroad then think about how this could benefit a future employer. You have proven to work alone and as part of a team, you have met and worked with different people from different cultures and possibly speak foreign languages.
You can read more about alternative types of work experience here.
In conclusion, while it is valuable to employers to have some accountancy work experience, it is not the end of the world if you do not have it. As long as you demonstrate the skills they are looking for in your application and your CV, this will prove to the employer that you are the right fit for the role. There are also other things that you can do that will help you gain those skills, such as a part time job or volunteering.