You’ve made the decision to look for a new position. Now you need a plan.
First, narrow down what you want to do next by answering these four basic questions:
1. What kind of work do you want to do?
Stay in public accounting, but at a firm that is
- Same size
Go to private industry
- Big company
- Small company
- Mid-sized company
- Particular industry
- Any industry
- Government work
- Something else
2. Where do you want to do it?
- Stay put
- 100% remote—work from home
3. Full-time, part-time or temp?
- Full time
4. Scope of your search?
- Keep your search confidential
- Put it all out there
Whatever your goal, answering these questions is the first step in forming a plan that will put you on the right path toward achieving it.
The next step is planning how you are going to find the best opportunity for you. There are a number of ways to look for a new employer, including:
Networking is the ideal place to start. According to a recent article in U.S. News and World Report, referred candidates are more likely to get hired, perform better and last longer in jobs.
If you expect to stay in public accounting, check out the online career section at firms you are interested in. Then, make a list of the people you know at these firms and connect with them on social media. Choose one or two and ask to meet with them. (We like in person meetings best, but phone or Skype can work too.)
Explain what you’re looking for in a new position and ask whether there is anything available at their firm. When you meet with them, be sure to bring a copy of your latest resume to hand to them. Afterward, send a personal note (email or snail mail) thanking them for their time. And don’t forget to follow up often enough so they know you are still interested but not often enough for them to think you’re a pest.
Networking can be effective if you are looking in private industry or government, too. The main difference is who you are reaching out to.
Online resources: social media and online job sites
Online search has completely changed the nature of job searches. According to a 2015 Pew study, the internet is a top resource for most of today’s job hunters. The study reports that 79% utilized online resources in their most recent job search and 34% say these online resources were the most important tool available to them.
Available jobs are listed on most employers’ websites. Many allow you to apply immediately, and some give you the option of being notified when a new listing matching your skills and experience comes up.
There also are many online recruiters where you can post your resume or apply for a job. They range from more generic job sites like Monster to and Indeed to industry-specific sites like accountingfly. All of these sites allow users to apply filters that narrow their search and most allow for confidentiality.
In addition, social media has become an important way for job seekers of all ages and levels of experience to research opportunities, as you can see in the following graphic.
Hint: Pay attention to the date the job was listed. Sometimes postings stay on line long after the position is filled. If there is a contact name in the posting, a good way to respond to an old listing is sending a short note simply asking whether the job is available and stating your credentials. You may be pleasantly surprised with the result.
Temporary jobs can be attractive, especially if you’re looking for your first job, unsure about whether to relocate or want to try a new type of job. Temporary work allows you to test whether your goals are workable for you in the real world.
Online recruiters often have “temporary” as one of their filters. Alternatively, there are a number of temporary staffing agencies specializing in accounting and finance.
Tax season is prime time for finding temporary jobs. If tax is not your thing, though, there is year-round need for other specialties. Using a temp position to sow off your technical and critical thinking skills can lead to a great full-time position.
Enlisting a recruiter to help with your job search is yet another option. If this is one of the tactics you plan to use, find one that specializes in accounting in your target industry, whether that is public accounting or craft beer, and location. Also, be aware that recruiters sometimes have strong relationships with particular firms, but not necessarily all of the firms or companies you might consider.
Your job search plan may incorporate a number of alternative sources. The most important thing is having a plan at all. One caveat: be clear about whether you want your search to be confidential. Most online sources have a way of maintaining your anonymity and trustworthy contacts and recruiters will respect your wishes. It is up to you to let them know that is what you want.