ICAEW.com works better with JavaScript enabled.

Five mistakes to avoid as a newly qualified accountant

Being a newly qualified accountant is an amazing time in your career, never again will you have so many options open to you. That said, it’s also a time for you to reflect on your own goals and motivations if you want to successfully kick-start your career.

April 2018

I’ve specialised in finance recruitment for almost eighteen years, and I’m still fascinated by the transformation that part qualified accountants go through when they pass their final exams. It begins with an increase in maturity, drive and confidence, but combined with the flattery and attention they receive as candidates that are high in demand, this can lead them to make certain mistakes. And unlike other mishaps, career mistakes are not ones that can easily be swept under the carpet.

By choosing not to work with a trusted external advisor, seeking advice from the wrong source or failing to conduct the right research about the market, newly qualified accountants can sometimes rush into situations that are far from beneficial to their careers. Here are five common mistakes to avoid if you want to successfully build your career as a qualified accountant:

  1. Not taking the time to self-reflect 
    What do you enjoy? What are you good at? Where do you see your career going in the short-term, and in the long-term? These are all questions you should ask yourself before you speak to anybody. As well as identifying the skillsets required to land your dream job you’ll need to evaluate the skills you possess, and the ones you need to progress. Analyst roles or jobs in corporate finance are extremely sought after, so you may need to develop a progression plan.

  2. Failing to conduct the right research
    If you like the sound of a certain job type or sector, make sure you research into it. Not only will this help you impress potential employers, but also give you a better idea of the opportunities to expect, should you choose this particular career path. You should also find out what the required skillsets are and take the time to write a tailored CV.

  3. Not seeking advice
    You’ll benefit more from registering with a recruitment consultancy than submitting your CV to a number of online job boards. Not only will this prevent your CV from ending up on the web for everyone to see, but you’ll also receive valuable specialist advice instead.

  4. Not preparing for interviews
    Put time aside to go to interviews. So they aren’t stressful, undertake a mock interview with your recruiter. If you’re successful and receive multiple offers, step back and take time to think about your career objectives.

  5. Rushing the process
    Being a newly qualified accountant is an exciting time, so make sure you enjoy it. You may be directly approached by employers with job opportunities, but it’s important to that you take the time to really evaluate all your options. If you rush through this time without having a career plan in mind, you’ll risk considering options that don’t match your career goals.

Lorraine Twist is Director, Professional Services UK at Michael Page