What is a recruiter looking for in an accountant?

18th February 2016
Geoff Collings

It is often not wise to try and second guess what type of accountant a recruiter might be looking for, but there are some things that we can be certain of when it comes to what they might search out when reviewing a CV.

Much of it will depend on the stage of your career and the level of role that you are applying for, which is why it is important to tailor your CV accordingly. Here we look at the key aspects that should be covered off depending on where you are in the career progression.

Starting off

Education and qualifications will be the largest influencer on whether your CV will make it through to a short list or not. Recognised learning through bodies such as Institute of Chartered Accountants will carry much weight, as will accounting degrees from a top university.

Internships will show a potential employer that you have some understanding and experience of accountancy principles operating in practice, which will add kudos to your CV.

Skills obtained outside of the workplace either through volunteering with local organisations or teaching yourself computer based accountancy packages can help you stand out from the crowd.

Executive level

Experience starts to become a driving factor as your career progresses. All of the requirements covered in ‘starting off’ are still important, but here a recruiter will want to start to see quantitative examples of your achievements.

Specialism and expertise within a defined field of accountancy normally starts to take shape at this stage of one’s career, and as such this will need to be highlighted articulately. If you are applying for a role outside of this specialism then you will need to identify the reasons for this.

References are an important part of any resume but by this stage of your career you should hopefully have a panel of people who are willing to provide you with a reference. A recruiter will look for a reference that comes from someone who has knowledge of the field you are applying to join as this will give credibility to your application.

Director level

Accomplishments should encapsulate a number of achievements and demonstrate your ability to drive results on a strategic basis. They should also provide examples of the regular steps you have taken to drive your career forward through proactive behaviour and formalised career planning.

The above and beyond is your opportunity to show how you have become a thought leader in the industry. This can range from serving as an honorary member on industry boards to having large followings and sparking debate on channels such as LinkedIn.

Driving your accounting career forward involves anticipating where the next development is going to come from and then taking steps to get there before the competition. Accountants that are reactive to market changes rarely find their career taking the path they wanted when they first started out. Part of having a proactive accounting career is to team up with accounting recruitment specialists such as ourselves in West Malling.