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Preparation and Research

How do you decide which job to apply for? Can you stand out from the other candidates? Careful preparation and research are the key.

Imagine you are interviewing a candidate. They have all the right experience and qualifications. They have made a good impression and given all the right answers. Then you ask them about your firm and their reply is generic and vague. It’s obvious that they have lots of interviews with similar types of firms and think that a general knowledge of the accountancy world will see them through.

You interview the next candidate and they exactly match the experience, qualifications and good impression given by the first candidate. When you ask them about your firm, they know who your major clients are, your position in the accountancy marketplace and show a keen business awareness.

Who will you offer the job to? Its simple isn’t it! Candidate number two will be offered the job over the first candidate every time. But why, when it is so simple, do many candidates fail to properly research their potential employer and give the best possible impression?

A reality check

You are probably very busy. You could be an undergraduate, studying hard and applying to lots of accountancy firms. You may be a trainee accountant, looking for a part qualified job and working long hours. You may be a partner with heaps of responsibility and very little time outside of work. But if you don’t make the effort to properly research your potential employer, the chances are you will stay in exactly the position you are in now.

The advantages

You want a new job. This could be a really important step in your career. You know that not all firms are the same. So why wouldn’t you do your research? The advantages are clear:

· Is this a firm you actually want to work for? You will spend a large proportion of your day at work. Unless you do your research, how will you know if this is the firm for you? Of course, you can and should ask questions at an interview but by that stage you have already spend valuable time on your application and attending the interview.

· You need an edge. The market is competitive. You don’t just want any job; you want the best possible job, so give yourself the advantage over those candidates who don’t take the time to do their research.

Where to look

· Your prospective employer’s website: don’t just look at the recruitment section. Read through their client newsletters, press releases and staff profiles. This will give you a much better feel for the firm.

· The trade press: read all the relevant accountancy journals regularly plus make sure you have a good knowledge of current business news.

· Networking: ask around, do you know anyone who has worked at or currently works at the firm? Be discreet and diplomatic, you don’t want gossip or to ask your contact to breach confidentiality.

Spend time doing your homework and save time in your job search!