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How to Get a Job as an Accountant

Accounting firms, businesses and industry groups often filter job applicants by evaluating their résumés, according to Ekimoff. "Firms will rank résumés based on [grade point average], leadership positions and personal initiative. After selecting their favorite candidates, the first interview is usually focused on technical ability [and] what kind of ways you frame your thinking and business focus," Ekimoff says. If you get called in for an interview, Ekimoff recommends showcasing a positive attitude and your long-term career goals. "Each firm wants to hire candidates that have a long-term focus on working for their firm and developing into managers and partners in the accounting profession down the road," he says. He adds that entry-level hires may struggle with the requirements of the job, but attitude is everything. "One of the most important things to bring to the table as a first year and young CPA is a positive attitude. The technical knowledge, the specialization, the industry focus – all of those buzzwords really play second fiddle to being able to walk into a meeting, into a room and on to a new project team, and be ready to help in any way possible," Ekimoff says.

Interview Questions Submitted by Real Accountants

"What contributions can you bring to the organization that will enhance our financial goals?" - Unigroup Accounting Candidate (Saint Louis, MO)

"Where do you see yourself in 5 years?" - AIG Senior Investment Accountant Candidate (Woodland Hills, CA)

"Do you enjoy a matrixed environment with little structure?" - The Mentor Network Staff Accountant Candidate (Location Unknown)

Job Satisfaction

Upward Mobility good High
Stress Level fair Average
Flexibility good Above Average

What is the Job Like?

Whether accountants work in an office setting or from home, they should expect long hours around tax season. The work is deadline-oriented and fluctuates with the accounting cycle. Computer skills are vital in this industry as well. "The job is performed mainly in computer applications, Word processing and spreadsheets," Ekimoff says. "Having a solid knowledge of working with spreadsheets and being able to review and understand the work of others through those tools is critical." Communication skills are also important for interacting with clients and co-workers. Accountants who work for public firms, government agencies and organizations with more than one location may have to travel frequently to perform audits at multiple branches, businesses or government facilities. There is also plenty of room for advancement in this field: Starting accountants may find themselves in a supervisory position after only a few years, or they may start their own practice.

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Last updated by Evan Taylor.


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