Tips for Your Next Career Shift
QUESTION: I received an associate degree in accounting eight years ago. Since then, I've had several jobs that included some accounting-related tasks, but I have no experience with a general ledger, balance sheets or end-of-month reports.
My current job is totally unrelated to accounting. All accounting is done at corporate headquarters, so I can't get any accounting experience here.
I don't like my job. I want to work in accounting. How can I get an accounting job?
My current salary exceeds that of an entry-level job in accounting. Should I try to get the experience I need by signing up with a temporary employment agency?
ANSWER: You want to be hired to do what you have no experience doing. That doesn't differ much from being a new college graduate. Most of them learn on the job after being hired for an entry-level position at entry-level pay.
Working through a temporary employment agency is one way to get the experience you need to reach your goal. However, you might run into the same problem you're having now. You don't have the experience you need for a temporary employment agency to be able to assign you to an accounting job.
You could take an entry-level job in accounting to acquire the knowledge and skills you need, and then move on to an advanced accounting position through promotion or by changing employers.
Your past work experience in accounting, even as limited as it was, could be a bonus for an employer interested in filling an entry-level job, especially if you have been a reliable, conscientious and accurate worker. Those attributes would make you more marketable than a new college graduate without work experience.
If you want to be hired for a job that pays above the entry level, you need to fill the gaps in your accounting knowledge and experience.
Check with local colleges. Find a course or two that will update and expand your knowledge. The course assignments can be used as evidence of your newly acquired knowledge and skills.
Alternatively, you might increase your accounting knowledge by working with an accountant who performs the duties for which you lack experience. Someone who works in your neighborhood, or someone you went to school with, or a personal friend might be willing to train you in exchange for assistance with routine tasks. Or you might hire a tutor.
Demonstrate your commitment to an accounting career by joining a professional organization for accountants. Be an active member. Join a committee. These activities can result in a job lead.
Margo Frey, a career counselor and coach, is president of Career Development Services Inc.
Source: Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. Powered by YellowBrix, Inc.