Mastering Your Finance and Accounting Job Search – Expert Tips

Are you on the hunt for your dream job in the dynamic world of finance and accounting? As an industry veteran with nearly two decades of experience, I’ve seen the landscape evolve and witnessed countless successful job placements. Here are some insider tips to help you navigate your job search journey with confidence:

  1. Craft a Tailored Resume (this doesn’t have to be a long process. Sometimes just adding a few bullets is enough):
    Your resume is your first impression. Tailor it to the specific role you’re applying for, highlighting relevant skills, experiences, and achievements. Showcase your quantifiable results to demonstrate your impact on past projects.
  2. Leverage LinkedIn:
    LinkedIn is a powerful tool for job seekers. Optimize your profile with a professional photo (don’t skip this – a picture on your profile is a must!!!), a concise headline, and a compelling summary that showcases your expertise and career aspirations. Connect with industry professionals and engage in relevant discussions to expand your network.
  3. Embrace Skill Enhancement:
    Finance and accounting are fields that value continuous learning. Stay updated on industry trends and consider acquiring new certifications or skills to make your profile stand out. This shows employers your commitment to growth.
  4. Research Companies:
    Before applying, research potential employers to understand their culture, values, and financial performance. This knowledge will help you tailor your application and prepare for interviews more effectively.
  5. Prepare for Behavioral Interviews:
    Although some employers are moving away from this interview style, many finance and accounting interviews still include behavioral questions. Be ready to share specific examples of your problem-solving abilities, teamwork, leadership, and how you’ve handled challenges in the past.
  6. Showcase Soft Skills:
    In addition to technical expertise, employers value soft skills like communication, critical thinking, and adaptability. Highlight instances where you’ve demonstrated these skills in your previous roles.
  7. Network Strategically:
    Networking is essential in the finance and accounting world. Attend industry events, webinars, and workshops to connect with professionals in your field. Building meaningful relationships can lead to hidden job opportunities.
  8. Demonstrate Your Analytical Abilities:
    Finance and accounting roles often require strong analytical skills. During interviews, discuss projects or situations where you’ve demonstrated your ability to analyze data, identify trends, and make strategic recommendations.
  9. Be Persistent:
    The job search process can be challenging, but persistence pays off. Don’t be discouraged by rejections; use them as opportunities to learn and improve your approach.
  10. Partner with a Specialized Recruiter:
    Consider working with a specialized recruiter who understands the intricacies of the finance and accounting industry. A knowledgeable recruiter can connect you with relevant job opportunities and provide insights into the market.

Remember, finding the right job is not just about meeting qualifications; it’s also about finding the right cultural fit. Stay true to your career goals, continuously refine your approach, and embrace the journey. With dedication and the right strategies, you’ll find the perfect match for your skills and aspirations in the finance and accounting world. If you’re seeking personalized guidance or looking for exciting opportunities in the finance and accounting sector, feel free to connect with me. I’m here to help you succeed in your job search!

What Should Employers Do About the “Great Resignation”?

By Shana Marr

Happy New Year!

As I’m sure you’ve noticed, movement in the job market is at an all time high and 2022 is anticipated to be one of the BEST markets for candidates in recent history! What does that mean for you? 

1.      It’s the perfect time to ask yourself, “What can I do to retain the talent I currently have on my team?”  One suggestion is to conduct one-on-one’s with the intent of gaining an understanding of what’s important to them in their career. This gives you an opportunity to discuss what of these desires is possible now, might be a good potential down the road, etc.

For example, your employees may think they have to look outside the company for career growth or to be challenged. However, you may be aware of an upcoming position within the company and/or project opportunities that may be of interest to them.

Or they may feel they have to look elsewhere for work/life balance or a hybrid work schedule, but you may have some flexibility to offer this to them now or in the near future.

Knowing what’s important to your team members is key in today’s market!


2.      If you can’t meet an employee’s desires, don’t hold it against them if they feel they have to look outside the company for a different opportunity. Keep in mind, you not knowing isn’t going to change the fact that they’re looking. But if you are aware, this will give you more time than the typical 2 week notice to find a replacement.

3.      You may need to reevaluate your benefit and salary offerings (not just to retain talent but this is also extremely important if you’re considering adding to your team down the road). If increasing salaries isn’t an option, is there something the company can do to compensate some other way? (ex. additional PTO, hybrid/remote work schedule, sign on bonus, etc)

4.      Now is a great time to hire! If you have positions on hold, see if you can get approval to begin the recruiting process today! This is the Great Resignation (Americans are quitting their jobs at a record pace) and therefore, this is an AMAZING opportunity for you to hire some fantastic people who aren’t typically on the market!

Hiring Leaders: Should You Engage an External Recruiter for Your Search?

By Shana Marr

Photo by Anna Tarazevich on Pexels.com

Hiring the right person (or wrong person) can have a huge impact on your business.  While unemployment is no longer at the unprecedented lows we saw earlier this year, competition for good talent is still at an all-time high… and your business and employee morale can suffer the longer a position sits vacant.

So what options do leaders have to expedite the hiring process? Your best bets are referrals, your internal talent acquisition team (if you have one) and an external recruiter.

Why an external recruiter? They can be a great resource to help you find the right match within a much quicker timeframe than if you used your own efforts alone.  And in the end, this can save you both time and money.

Have you worked with recruiters before and feel you didn’t get the best level of service? 

If you’re engaging more than one recruiter for your searches, there’s a good chance you aren’t getting the best out of any of them.  So how do you get a higher level of service? 

Consider engaging only one recruiter. Recruiters are going to put forth much more time and effort if they know they are likely to get compensated for their efforts. 

Would you want to work a multitude of hours on something if there was only a small chance you’d actually get paid?  Engaging only one recruiter is called an exclusive agreement and many times it even offers a discounted fee.  And let’s be honest, it can actually be more time-consuming for hiring leaders if they’re partnering with too many people anyway.  Working with only one recruiter can offer a lower fee, less work for you and a much better experience for everyone!

Below are some more helpful tips for working with an external recruiter. 

What Are the Benefits of Working with a Recruiter?

  1. External recruiters specialize in finding passive candidates – according to a recent study from LinkedIn, 70% of job seekers are passive.  While these candidates aren’t actively seeking opportunities (meaning they won’t apply to a job posting), they are open to hearing about roles that offer them something their current role may not. 
  2. They can work in conjunction with your own hiring resources – for contingent searches, you don’t pay the recruiter anything unless you hire their candidate.  With this being the case, you really have nothing to lose by engaging an external recruiter to find candidates while your internal team is also conducting the search.
  3. They offer guidance and counsel – remember, your recruiter is in the business of hiring.  They do this all day/every day.  They can tell you if you have unrealistic expectations for the salary you’re offering or if the hiring process will take longer than your target date. 
  4. They can work on confidential searches – if a search is confidential, it likely cannot be posted or advertised.  A good recruiter is accustomed to these types of searches and knows how to handle it with care.
  5. They have tools you may not have access to – there’s little reason for most hiring leaders to pay the steep fee for LinkedIn Recruiter, Indeed resume search or other specialized recruiting tools.  These can be very expensive and really add up.  If hiring is not your full-time job, it’s not likely they’re worth the cost (and most people wouldn’t know how to utilize them to their optimum level anyway).
  6. They’re well-networked – a respectable recruiter knows people who know people.  Many even offer their candidates referral fees if they recommend someone for one of their openings.
  7. You’re able to focus on what you’re best at – recruiting takes a lot of time and that will take you away from your own job. Your time is valuable – so by outsourcing this function, you’re actually saving the company money!

How to Choose a Recruiter

  1. How much experience do they have? It’s not that a new recruiter can’t be successful in a search, but just like with anything else in life, you’re going to feel much more assured with someone who has the wisdom that only comes with experience
  2. Are they specialized in a particular area? It’s very difficult to be all things to all people.  Recruiters who are focused on a niche are typically much more knowledgeable in that area and do not suffer from being spread too thin
  3. Can you trust them to follow through? A good recruiter won’t overpromise and underdeliver. If they say they will do something, they do it (or at minimum, they reach out to you with a good reason as to why they can’t meet that deliverable in the originally set timeframe).
  4. Are they well-networked?  The best recruiters know people – that’s really the core of their job.
  5. Do they listen to your needs? This will be very apparent in the candidates they present.

When to Engage a Recruiter

  1. If a role was particularly difficult to fill the last time the search was conducted, you should consider engaging a recruiter as soon as you’re aware you have a need.  This may be weeks or even months prior to the position vacancy.
  2. Confidential searches – these cannot be posted or advertised and an external recruiter is very savvy with this type of search. 
  3. If the position is imperative for your business to operate effectively (or is income producing), you should consider using an external recruiter in addition to your internal resources.    
  4. If a vacancy is causing your current employees to pick up the slack
  5. For all openings – many hiring leaders find that the benefits of a partnering with an external recruiter make it worth engaging them on every opening.  (Keeping in mind that for contingent searches they won’t pay anything if they don’t select the recruiter’s candidate)

What Should You Expect?

  1. Your recruiter should not send you candidates who are not vetted, are outside of your salary range (unless they inform you of this upon presenting), or who are not qualified.  Basically, they are not a resume service and therefore, they shouldn’t just send you candidates to see what sticks
  2. They should be a consultant – This is part of the service and can be extremely helpful to you in making decisions.  For example, they may recommend you go back to HR to ask for a higher salary or take off one of your position requirements because the salary and job description don’t match.  They can also give you an idea of a reasonable timeline for filling – if it is longer than you initially thought, you may choose to hire an interim resource so you can take your time hiring.  Advice and counsel is a huge benefit of working with a recruiter so take advantage of it!
  3. They should set clear expectations – you should know when to expect to start receiving candidates from them.  Depending on the search, this could be the day you tell them about the role.  However, keep in mind the recruiter needs time to vet the candidate and confirm interest in your opening.  Many times, the candidate is currently working so they may not be able to discuss the role with the recruiter immediately.  Also, to find and engage passive candidates, this may take a little time as well.  Your recruiter should be able to give you a reasonable timeline for what to expect from them and when

What Your Recruiter Needs from You:

  1. Feedback on why you decide to pass on a candidate they present – a recruiter needs to understand why the candidate isn’t moving forward so they don’t waste your time sending resumes of those that wouldn’t interest you.  A little of your time now saves a lot of your time later!
  2. More than a job description – while it is super helpful and a great start, we all know there is a lot more to a role than what is listed in the description.  Help your recruiter be the best resource they can be by telling them what is not listed in the requirements. Why is the position open?  Why did the last person not work out?  What are the most needed requirements and which are just “nice to haves”?  What type of personalities thrive in your business?  What percentage of time will the position focus on each of the job duties?  The answers to these questions will really help narrow down the search.    
  3. Help your recruiter out by giving them selling points they can use when talking about the role –   Does your company offer benefits that are over and above what is typical in your industry?  What are the growth opportunities in the department or company?  The market for good people is still VERY competitive.  You don’t want to miss out on quality candidates just because you didn’t give the recruiter enough information to properly sell the role.
  4. Remember – company culture is very important – Be as open about this as possible – what’s the team like?  Does your company promote from within?  Is there a gym or café onsite? (As a sidenote, your recruiter may ask to visit your office location.  If at all possible, take them up on this.  Because a job opening may come up when you least expect it, if you plan to work with the recruiter on your next opening, allow them to schedule a visit even when they aren’t yet engaged in a search.  This way they’ll be ready to go as soon as you have an opening).
  5. Communicate!!!  Your recruiter is working hard on your search.  Please don’t just “sit” on candidates they present as this can reflect very poorly on them.  The recruiter is trying to keep these candidates warm once presented.  This takes a lot of time and continuing to reach out to the same candidate multiple times with the message “no feedback yet” gets very old fast. 

A recruiter is considered a partner and in order for the partnership to be successful, both sides need to be actively engaged.  Only engage recruiters you trust and whose opinion you value.  Consider working with them on an exclusive basis.  And help them help you…  The more information and feedback you give them, the better!  Happy hiring!

I specialize in Finance/Accounting recruiting in the Atlanta and surrounding areas. Feel free to reach out to me anytime if you need help with a search – smarr@argpeople.com linkedin.com/in/shanamarr

Does Your Resume Stand Out? Five Common Resume Mistakes

By Shana Marr

Photo by Ketut Subiyanto on Pexels.com

During my 15 years in recruiting I’ve gained a bit of insight into hiring leaders’ thought processes when a resume comes across their desk (if it even makes it to their desk). Of course, we all know the typical resume errors – misspellings, grammatical flaws, or it’s just too long – tip: a resume should be limited to 2 pages (or 3 pages max). 

But there are also some things you may not realize are keeping you from even being considered for a job opportunity. If you take the time to make a few changes, your resume will stand out above the rest!

Common Resume Mistakes
  1. Selling your ROLE instead of selling YOU
    • Your resume should be more about your accomplishments and less about your job duties. It should not read like a job description! Job duties tell the hiring leader or recruiter very little about you and your successes.
      • Ask yourself a few questions: Did I improve the efficiency of the team? Make an important customer happy? Save the company money?
      • Look at previous performance reviews – pull out any achievements or positive feedback
      • Ask former colleagues what accomplishments they recall from your time in the role
  2. The resume isn’t easy to read – hiring leaders review a resume for an average of 6 seconds before deciding if it’s worth considering further.  Your resume needs to grab their attention… and quickly!
    • If you’re an IT professional, your technical skills should be at the beginning of the resume.  Or if you’re applying to an accounting role and you’re a CPA, the reader should see this important credential within 1-2 seconds of looking at your resume. The hiring leader or recruiter will not take the time to hunt for these things and they’re vital for you to stand out above the other applicants!
    • If you had several roles at the same company, it should be very evident that all of those positions were at the same place so as not to appear job-hoppy at first glance (because remember, your resume may not get more than a brief look before the reader moves on to the next).
    • Use bullets instead of paragraphs. This is much easier to read and to quickly identify if you’re a potential fit for the role.
  3. Not tailoring your resume to the role – you don’t have to completely revamp your resume for every position; however, you should take at least 10-15 minutes to tweak it before submitting to a role, making sure relevant experience from the job description is listed.
    • For example, if a certain software is required or preferred and you have used it in the past, rearrange your technical skills so that software is listed first.
    • Let’s say you’re a hybrid accounting/finance professional.  You should have one resume geared more for accounting roles and another for finance. 
    • Also, keywords from the description must be included on your resume. This is important because when the leader or recruiter scans the resume, they’re looking for those key terms. Not only that, because of the ATS, your resume may not even be reviewed by a human being if certain words aren’t on it! A couple of good sites that will help with this are:
      • https://tagcrowd.com/ – just copy and paste the description and it will create a word cloud of the most used words.  You can actually add multiple descriptions of similar roles at once which is even more helpful.
      • https://www.jobscan.co/ – add your resume and the job description and this will tell you how closely they align.  If you get a poor score, you need to do more tailoring to get past the ATS.
  4. Aging yourself
    • Unless you graduated college in the last 2-3 years and therefore want to show why you lack experience, do not put your date of graduation on your resume.
    • Your experience only needs to cover 10-15 years.  If you prefer to go back further, you can add “Additional Relevant Experience” with the name of company, job title and location (no dates).
    • “Objective” statement is no longer used and is basically telling the hiring leader what you want from them.  They already know what type of role you’re interested in because you applied to the position! Instead, add a “Summary” section to highlight the value you bring to the them (tailored to the role).
    •  “References available upon request” – again, same as above, this is not needed.  The hiring leader knows if they ask you for references, you will provide them. There’s really no reason to state the obvious.
  5. No LinkedIn profile – You may not realize it, but let me be clear, when job searching a LinkedIn profile is no longer optional.  Your profile should have a professional photo, list your experience (this should mirror your resume) AND the link should be on your resume. 

There are sometimes 1000’s of applicants for a role (daunting, I know)…Avoid these common mistakes and your resume will have a much better chance of getting noticed! Also, be sure to have someone else proofread it to catch any small oversights (they may seem unimportant, but they can cause the leader or recruiter to think you aren’t detail-oriented). 

And remember – you bring your experience and expertise to the table and there is only one of you!  A positive attitude and confidence in yourself can go a long way! 

Interviewing in a Pandemic – 6 Things that Have Changed and 6 That Stayed the Same

By Shana Marr

Photo by Christina Morillo on Pexels.com

The world may disagree on a lot of things – but I think we can all admit that job searching in the midst of COVID-19 is not for the faint of heart.  However, it doesn’t have to be as difficult as it seems – and not so surprisingly, many of the same rules and best practices still apply.

What’s the same?

  1. As is always true, you want to do your research on the company beforehand.  There is so much information out there it can be overwhelming, but here are the best places to focus your research efforts:Set up Google Alerts – (actually, do this for every company that you have interest in).  Bonus points – set up a Google Alert for their competitors.  (this requires you do your research to find out who their competitors are)
    • Follow them on social media (LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram)
    • The company website
    • LinkedIn – look up all interview participants on LinkedIn prior to the interview.  What do you have in common – Do they volunteer at your church?  Are you connected to some of the same people? Did you attend the same college or do you root for their college’s football team? You can bring up these commonalities or complement their career progression during the interview!
    • GlassDoor – This will give insight into common questions asked during the interview as well as what it’s like to work there
  2. Read the job description again just before the interview and be sure to have examples of experiences you’ve had that fit the description. Many interviewers follow the STAR format (Situation, Task, Action, Result). If you aren’t familiar with this – look it up prior to the interview and be prepared with examples of situations (that preferably relate to the job description) that you can answer in this format.
  3. Be prepared with good questions.  Some of these will come from your research.  For example, if you find that their competitor is coming out with a new product you can show you’ve done your research (as well as that you’re a smart strategic thinker – bonus!!) by asking what their plan is to compete.
  4. It’s okay to take notes!  Jot down the high-level notes during the interview and then immediately following, fill in the details (do this right after so you don’t forget!)
  5. Get contact information from all interviewers so you can send a thank you note (also ask if they’re ok with you reaching out if you have questions following the interview)
  6. Dress appropriately and be well-groomed… even if the interview is via video!  By the way, it’s ok to ask what the normal office attire is.  Dress at least one level above what they would normally wear.  It’s better to be overdressed than it is to be underdressed.  

What’s changed?

  1. No handshakes (for obvious reasons)
  2. Masks – ask beforehand if masks are required and unless you have a medical reason, wear one (no matter if you think they work or not)!  Also, if you do have a medical reason be sure you let them know ahead of time.
  3. It’s ok to reschedule if you are feeling under the weather (or move the interview to video/virtual).  The company will not be upset but will actually thank you for it!
  4. Many interviews are now via video (especially 1st and 2nd interviews) – If this is the case, be sure your background isn’t cluttered, you look directly at the web-cam and you are dressed appropriately (not just the top half – we’ve all seen the mishaps that can happen when you stand up!)  You should also be in a spot that has good Wi-Fi reception and where you will not be interrupted.  If you’ve never interviewed on camera – practice with a friend, your spouse, mom or whoever is willing!!
  5. You may not get to see the environment where you’ll be working or get as good an idea of the culture because your interview will likely take place offsite.  Many companies now have a virtual office tour for this reason.  If not, don’t be afraid to ask what the office and culture are like.  (this is best asked once you’ve done your research and can say something to the effect of, “On your website it appears the office space is very open.  Can you tell me more about it?” or “Based on what I’ve seen on your Facebook page, it seems the company culture is very team oriented.  Is there anything else you would say to describe the culture?”  This will not only give you insight into the office space and culture, but it also makes you look good in the process!
  6. It’s far easier to keep your current boss from knowing you’re interviewing!  One perk of working remotely is that you have more flexibility to arrange your schedule to interview with minimum time disruption in your current role.  You can usually flex your hours to accommodate for lost time – keeping everything running smoothly while putting yourself in position for that next great opportunity!

And remember – ATTITUDE is everything!  If you aren’t a positive person, no amount of preparation or experience will help you beat out the competition.  Believe in yourself, have confidence and even if the interview is on the phone – SMILE!  I have seen so many hires happen (and not happen) based on attitude alone!

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