Work Experience and finding paid employment

jamesogreen1977 Registered Posts: 4 New contributor ?
I’ve just been passing from temporary job to temporary job in a few different places, hit my thirties and realised that I wanted a little more for my future. Accountancy appealed and I thought that I would look into pursuing a career into accounting. I approached job agencies and asked if they had accounting vacancies. I’ve got a lot of general admin experience, but no accounting experience and all of the agencies said sorry, they couldn’t put me forward for those positions as I didn’t have experience. Which is fair enough.
So I thought that I would get the AAT qualification and see if this would open a few doors. I’m currently in the last part of the level 4 diploma. Earlier this month, I spent a couple of days trudging around just over twenty small to medium, local and national accounting practices in the local area trying to hawk myself armed with my CV, a crisp shirt and a suit for a change. All I was asking for was for two days a week unpaid work experience. Each and every one of them turned round and explained that they were unable to help.
So, what with they studying and having to work in part time jobs for the last year, I thought that I’d start to look and apply for trainee accountant jobs. I’m willing to relocate to anywhere in the country and have been looking on a few on line agencies and job listings like on Read and Jobsrapido. Admittedly, my CV might need a little bit of work and I’m going to look at it very soon, but I’ve applied for a couple and not heard anything back.
I’m aware that companies maybe being bombarded with applications and you have to stand out. This is where I think I am hitting an instant fail point in the application process. The hirer looks at my CV which shows no accounting work experience and it is immediately put to the bottom of the pile and not looked at in more detail.
I want to make the most of my time and don’t want to be continually banging my head against a brick wall, because I’m going in the wrong direction. Companies around here aren’t taking on people for work experience and they aren’t hiring people who don’t already have experience. What should I do to get this experience? If I’m searching for jobs, what kind of jobs should I search for? Who will give me a job when I only have a qualification and no experience?
I’ll tell you what. I’m just worried that I’ve invested a lot of time and money into gaining the AAT diploma and it’s not opening the doors that I hoped it would.


  • jorja1986
    jorja1986 Registered Posts: 210 ? ? ?
    I don't think that it is so much to do with the AAT qualification as such.

    I am MAAT and have applied for several jobs, one was even exactly the same as my current job just in a different company, and I was told that I didn't have enough experience. I have been in my current employment 3 years and prior to that since leaving college not been out of an accounting employment, apart from brief spell out of work due to redundancy where i helped a family member (5.5years).

    I also have joined several agencies and only one has got back to me. Apparently with my qualification I can do a input jobs (not even a controller) i politely advised that they need to rethink their recruitment strategy if they want to get people to join their agency as the AAT provides much more grounding and experience than merely and input job. (BTW not berating an input job but when i was looking I had applied for Management Accountant positions who wanted AAT experience (see what everyone is up against?!)).

    The only thing to do is keep at it. There is an employer out there who is willing to take you on, unfortunately I read this morning that for most jobs there are at least 18 applicants, so give your CV a damn good look over and make sure that your key skills and experience, (not necessarily accounting but team skills independant time planning etc) are up to date and bold as brass. :)

    You are obviously very determined and when you do get the opportunity to go to interview that will shine through.

    Good Luck with your hunt and hope something comes through soon
  • Budgie
    Budgie Registered Posts: 56 ? ? ?
    Keep trying, don't give up

    How about asking charities if you can help them? And write to companies other than accountancy firms, and also public sector organisations. Although these options may not be your first choice, you can gain valuable experience this way. It might be worth getting in touch with your local AAT branch and ask their advice too. You can increase networking contacts this way too. Go to AAT events to enhance your CPD in advance, not just while you're working. Just keep trying. Don't be discouraged just because times are tough. I hope you fine what you're looking for.
  • jamesogreen1977
    jamesogreen1977 Registered Posts: 4 New contributor ?
    I met some good contacts at a branch event

    The hunt continues. I made some good contacts and got some invaluable advice at an AAT branch event recently. It's definitely on my to do list when events are available.
    I haven't yet contacted other organisations or charities as I'm cramming for my Business Tax, Budgeting and Financial Performance exams. I'm really looking forward to getting over those hurdles, so the search for gainful employment can continue in earnest.
  • Dipak Thanki
    Dipak Thanki Registered Posts: 135 ? ? ?
    I'm on the same boat, it's practically impossible to get experience or a trainee job, they all just say no! :(

    I'm sure it will come by one day.
  • jamesogreen1977
    jamesogreen1977 Registered Posts: 4 New contributor ?
    Hopefully something will happen in February

    After speaking to the people at the AAT branch event, February seems to be the time to start looking for experience.
    Because tax returns are due on 31st January, it was explained to me that accountancy firms will be really beavering away until then, but experience a real drop off in busyness from 1st February. This is when firms might have a little bit more time to allocate to people trying to get experience.
    I'm working up to that date and trying to have the AAT diploma finished by then, so I can go in armed with something more than good intentions.
  • Budgie
    Budgie Registered Posts: 56 ? ? ?
    Good to know, James!

    Dipak, my experience has been similar too. Most trainee roles want people with an 1st or 2:1 accounting degree, which I don't have. So I decided to do AAT independently by distance learning while temping in sometimes very menial jobs, but I'm so grateful for that initial experience - it all counts!

    What I've done the past three years is to keep trying to get temp roles. Even if it's something more 'boring' like scanning or printing documents, you get your foot in the door in a small way and it's amazing what useful experience you pick up when you're starting from scratch doing simple stuff. They may give you more interesting work as time goes on.
  • katz568
    katz568 Registered Posts: 93 ? ? ?
    Don't give up. My story is similar as in I wanted a change of career, had finished the level 4 in the summer but had no practical experience.
    I wrote to all the accounts practises in a 10 mile radius offering to go in and work for free in return for experience.
    One of them must have liked what I wrote as they contacted me offering me the desk of a lady due to go onto maternity leave at the end of october for 4 weeks.
    Just before I was due to start somebody handed their notice in to go to somewhere bigger as she wanted to specialise in tax (our place is very mixed) and he had advertised for somebody with 3 years experience to replace her, closing date the friday before i was due to leave.
    He said when i started that he would consider me for the post, or at the very least maternity cover if it all worked out well and on that Friday he offered me the full time post as he was impressed with how quickly I had picked it up and he was willing to invest the time to train me so it does work.
    Good luck and don't give up hope.
  • Bluewednesday
    Bluewednesday Registered Posts: 1,624
    It is sometimes just a case of being in the right place at the right time.

    However I would also agree with Jamesogreen1977 in that it is not the right time to approach accountancy practices, we don't have time to even breathe in January, let alone show someone else the ropes, no matter how bright or qualified they are.
  • jamesogreen1977
    jamesogreen1977 Registered Posts: 4 New contributor ?
    I thought that I'd stick my tupence in again

    I took my business tax exam today. The AAT servers kept failing and kicking me out of the computer based exam. That's a bit of an aside, but it gave me the chance to talk to the invigilator a little.
    She explained that the local council just snapped up people looking to get some unpaid work experience.
    It's an option I'll consider as a last resort as I have 'previous' with the local council and their health and safety policies didn't really agree with me, but that's another aside.
    Anyway, it's worth a thought for those following this as Budgie previously suggested.
  • Budgie
    Budgie Registered Posts: 56 ? ? ?
    Katz, that's a great story! Like you say, don't give up.

    Good one James, the council option might be worth looking into. Yes council health and safely can be silly. Next they'll bring in special gloves for office workers so they don't get paper cuts!
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