How to get your CV in top shape for your ideal accounting role

In our last blog, we covered how to set yourself on the path to finding that dream accounting job and setting you apart from the competition. Here we give you the practical steps to ensure your CV stands out when you apply.

1.        Become a Chartered Accountant (CA).  

Getting your CA qualification before looking for your dream accounting job will open up many more opportunities and will allow you to command a higher salary over the long term. As well as passing all your exams, you need to build up three years practical experience before you can be fully qualified. Check out The Institute of the Chartered Accountants Australia and New Zealand for the benefits of getting your CA and where it can take you.

Only got 1-2 years’ experience and only part qualified? Don’t let this deter you. Some candidates will drift along in a role thinking they HAVE to get their CA before making a move, but this isn’t always the case. The CA units are expensive and candidates fear that they may be out of pocket if they move part way through their CA program, but employers know what they are getting into when looking at candidates at this level and are often happy to make an arrangement to take on any bonding you might have to your current employer, to make it financially viable for you to go for your dream job.

 2.        Fill the gaps

Beyond choosing a sector to work in, finding the type of accounting you want to do will ensure you are on the right path.

It’s important to start pivoting towards the area you want to specialise in. Try to direct your learning towards having a broad understanding of one discipline, and a deep understanding of one or two core disciplines within that. For example; with accounting and business as your broad discipline, you may go on the learn as much as you can about BAS, Mergers and Acquisitions, or Tax Accounting. You may have a rural background and can be a specialised farm accountant at your company. Or perhaps you are excellent with systems and/or software packages and can be the go-to IT person at your organisation. Whatever it may be, get as deep in your understanding as you can on these disciplines as you familiarise yourself with your desired industry. For most, it’s best to learn these skills while at an accounting firm if you are already working in one as a graduate. Speak to one of the partners in the area you want to specialise in (with your manager’s permission) and ask to work on a couple of projects with them. You would be surprised how specialised some skills or industry sectors are and having them on your CV could be the difference that separates you from the other candidate(s) a company might be deciding on for your dream job in the future.

 3.        Get a mentor

A mentor will help you find and navigate the complicated and sometimes confusing path of a career in accounting. Is there a senior colleague working in your dream job? Tell them this and ask that they mentor you, Most people would be flattered by this request and will be more than happy to help you. The sessions could be a monthly coffee catch up, or more formal structured meetings. Use these sessions to discuss your goals and challenges. You’ll find they are a wealth of information, so pick their brain and it will help you find that dream role quicker than if you did it alone.

 4.        Know your strengths.

Do you see a job out there that you think you are perfect for? Look at the requirements of the role and identify what skills you have to meet these requirements. Every job application should be tailored to the specific role you are applying for.

Highlight on your CV and cover letter about how your current skills can be transferred to the new role. You may have started as a grad and moved into an analyst role in Audit, and the new role is a Finance Officer at a not-for-profit. Find an angle that works and as long as you have solid experience in the hard skills, you may find many of the soft skills can be acquired, or you have already gained them in some way. Demonstrate how these can be transferred into the new role. Highlight these and explain how you will fill any gaps.

Check out SEEK’s transferable skills checklist. Which of these can you already add to your CV?

 5.        Know what the job is worth.

There are many steps on the career ladder and we are all at different stages of our working lives. Some of us find the right path straight away, while others take a little longer, or have different hurdles to navigate. Where you are in your life, your age and your university qualification are not necessarily indicators of what you should be paid – it’s the job itself and your ability to do that job that determines what the remuneration will be.

It’s not a race, so take a long-term view, be patient and you will get there. Don’t waste your energy comparing yourself to where others are at, as you need to realise that many accountants can take a decade or more to get to where they desire.

Demanding a high salary out of the context of the job’s salary range, based on what you want to earn, is an easy way to miss out on a job offer. Have an honest discussion with your recruiter about the role in question and your experience to date to establish what you can reasonably expect to get paid.

Once you’re in – you can set your sights on that higher paycheck and learn all you need to do to get there.

With accountants being one of the most sought after professionals in New Zealand, choosing this career is an excellent way to ensure job security and prosperity. Once you’re ready to make that next step, contact us for free advice and to help guide you on the right path.

Hopefully the above tips have helped you put those finishing touches on your CV. Are you now ready to start your job search and get your updated Resume in front of some companies?


Published by Blake Mather


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