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It’s estimated 14% of all graduates are within the accountancy and finance sector with the majority of them going on to work for one of the “Big Four”. But how do you secure one of these lucrative positions?
Choose your sector
Our first tip is to research the sector you’d like to pursue a career in, you will need to demonstrate your passion for this at interview stage so make sure you research the entire career journey in that sector and not just the first the step.
For example if you choose Accountancy and Financial management, is your end goal to be a partner in a firm or being a Financial Director for a large multinational company? It’s likely you will be asked this question at the interview stage, especially if the firm or company will be paying towards further study.
The most common sectors are:

  • Investment banking
  • Accountancy and financial management
  • Financial services

To find out more about these sectors you can take a look at our Career Choice guide.
Broaden your skills
Most graduate positions will have minimum requirements for your achieved degree grade and your A levels, so realistically your education won’t always be enough to secure you an interview or a job as all the other candidates will be on par with your education. Ideally you need to have other skills to bring to the table outside of the numbers- perhaps you are an Excel pro? Or a whizz at html?  We’d suggest taking a browse on Udemy as there are hundreds of courses that could help you get the edge over another candidate.
Other skills you will need to demonstrate are time management and project management, you may be able to demonstrate these from examples at university or part time employment, which brings us perfectly on to our next tip.
Ask for work experience
Being open minded to giving up your time for free and asking for work experience can open up a number opportunities and you never know you could even land yourself a full time position.
It is worth noting that accountancy firms tend to be busiest after April, and often an extra pair hands would be really useful. These positions aren’t usually advertised but are there for the right candidate so start by making a list of firms in the areas you could work in. LinkedIn now comes in really handy and see if you can find the person who is most likely to be able to help you such as the operations and HR departments. Once you have a name, be bold and either phone, email or even post them a letter to see if you could be of any help to them for a week or two. Other larger firms offer rotational schemes or work shadowing. These are for short-periods of time and are a great way to get your foot in the door and give you an idea of the sort of work you could be doing.
A quick Google of volunteering in your area will also direct you a few websites which will have opportunities locally.
Don’t limit yourself to the Big Four
Sometimes the best opportunities are actually found in smaller firms and looking away from the Big Four could prove to be very lucrative for you. For example Contractor Accountancy firms such a Dolan Accountancy  have 1,000’s of limited company contractors who are happy to take on graduates and not only encourage them to study, but will train them to managerial level over a few years. We look at some of the benefits of working for a small to medium accountancy sized firm here. 
Apprenticeship schemes
In the past you would see many trainee accountant positions advertised, however this year you should start to see a number of apprenticeships instead. This is because companies that pay over £3 million a year in wages have to pay a new tax called the apprenticeship levy which the Government have introduced to encourage more employers to provide training opportunities whilst actually doing the job.
It makes sense for these companies to benefit from the Government’s generous new funding for apprenticeships. With the main advantages being that at least 20% of your time will now be spent on learning and development and also if you did choose to leave the firm you wouldn’t need to pay back any trainings costs or be tied into a contract.
Good luck on your hunt for your graduate accountancy and finance role.

Holly Barry is a Digital PR Executive working in Hertfordshire. Previous experience has seen her work at Condé Nast’s Brides magazine, Cosmopolitan and Closer. Holly has collaborated with many publications to ensure brand awareness across a wide variety of niches.

About the Author

  • Name: Accountancy Careers
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