A positive slant on job hunting

Nps Experienced MentorRegistered Posts: 782
Throughout my AAT studies, I've been constantly told how difficult it is to get an entry level job and how qualifications mean next to nothing without experience, so I just wanted to give a different perspective for anyone who is feeling disheartened.

For those that don't know me, I am AAT qualified and now studying ACCA but have absolutely no accounting experience. I'm now in a position where I can start job hunting and started last week. I've sent off 15 applications, a mixture of 18-20k entry jobs, and a few 20-25k part qual ACCA jobs. It was a bit hit and miss as I expected to be knocked back at the first hurdle for all of them. I didn't meet the criteria for some of them as they specified specific experience which I don't have, but if I thought I could do the job I applied anyway (if you don't ask you don't get!)

Well, from those applications, I have 2 interviews arranged for next week, and 2 more vacancies have been put on hold (but I've been told, I've been short listed for when they are re-opened). I am now also registered with a specialist accounting recruitment agency who have told me that they are fairly certain that they can keep me in short term contracts (as in work every week, rather than a week here and a week there) for 6 months and then they will start putting me forward for permanent roles (incl trainee accountant roles which of course is my ultimate aim). I just need to let them know when I can start.

Certainly in the area I am in, there is no shortage of entry level jobs and my lack of experience doesn't seem to be putting people off. I think the key has been acknowledging that I have to expect a substantial pay drop and being realistic about the kind of jobs to apply for. I know I am also lucky in that my area is a hub for large company HQ's so there were always going to be more opportunities here than somewhere more remote.

So to everyone who is studying and worrying about getting that first accountancy job, the outlook is not necessarily as bleak as people say. I know how disheartening it is to be studying, yet being told that you may be wasting your time as you have no experience so you will find it really difficult to get a job. I've spent 18 months worrying about it! I hope this can address the balance a bit.


  • Vlee
    Vlee Well-Known Registered Posts: 136
    Thanks for sharing and well done getting those interviews. It's a big step to take such a drop in salary, I'm sure it will pay off in a few years but will it cover your childcare? That's the main reason I'm waiting. Nursery is £50 per day, which is cheap round here. I'd have to earn about £40k just to break even on that and commuting costs (pretty depressing to work that out). Just one more year and my eldest will start school and it might be worth it then so keep sharing any tips!
  • Nps
    Nps Experienced Mentor Registered Posts: 782
    Oh, I'll have nothing left to show for it once I've paid out childcare costs but I think that's par for the course for working mums. But we've planned for this, and it's a short term sacrifice for hopefully long term gains. We've been saving our childcare vouchers for the past 2 years so have a few thousand pounds of those to use which will help. The alternative was never seeing my daughters and living in a constant state of worry and stress, so any short term sacrifice to facilitate this career change was just something we decided to deal with.

    My one interview may even be for the Holy Grail of jobs for working mums - full time or potentially flexible part time if I want, so could fit around nursery hours. I never even dared to consider I might perhaps land a job like that! Since writing my post, I've been offered another interview as well - another part time role with very flexible hours which they would be happy to fit in a round the other part time job if I got it.

    I really never thought get a full time job interview this quickly, let alone another 2 with hours which most new mums would kill for. Deciding whether I want to work full or part time was not a decision I was ever expecting to have the luxury of having to make!

    You mention commuting - that's part of the reason for the career change. 3-4 hours every day in and out of London just isn't sustainable any more. I've put a strict 10-15min drive time on my job search area. I've justified part of the salary drop as 3-4 hours of less 'working' hours per day.
  • Jo Clark
    Jo Clark Font Of All Knowledge Registered Posts: 2,525
    Good luck with your interviews NPS, not that you will need it! :o

    Another option to consider, if offered/possible, is working term time only while your children are at school, or working at home during the holidays.

    Do keep us posted - I think you could be trying to decide which job/s to accept ;)

    JC :o
    ~ An investment in knowledge always pays the best interest ~
    Benjamin Franklin
  • George Tse
    George Tse Well-Known Registered Posts: 241
    Hi NPS

    First congrtulations on the interviews you have been invited to. I wish you luck :)

    I just want to ask what website you are applying for these jobs?

    You say you have started studying the ACCA not being employed and I am wondering if that may have increased your chances as I have looked in to doing this in the past.

    I am also in the same position as you I an AAT qualified with something like 1 months of temping work experience .

  • James Patterson
    James Patterson Trusted Regular Registered Posts: 281
    Hi Nps,

    Really nice to hear, and well done on your decision/interviews.

    I've been on an apprenticeship with the council for 2 years now, and i go unemployed at the end of the month :lol:

    I'm just 19 and have almost finished AAT level 4 and hoping to go onto CIMA. It is good to balance it out with a bit of positive.

    I do worry slightly about getting back into employment with the amount of applications i see for roles in my area; I also think my age might be seen as a negative rather than a positive in some cases regardless of my experience.

    But you've replaced some realism with optimism which is always welcomed :D
  • Nps
    Nps Experienced Mentor Registered Posts: 782
    James - I think you're in the best possible position for job hunting. Practically AAT qualified, the experience to back it up, and the enthusiasm to continue onto CIMA. I think you'll be snapped up.

    Gentle - I used the Job Centre website. It was recommended to me, but I initially dismissed it as I didn't expect to find specialist jobs on there. I was wrong, there were loads of accounting jobs on there. A recruitment agent explained to me that jobs which require experience will generally go through recruitment agencies as the clients can justify the agents fees, yet those where they perhaps have less money to spend, will use the Job Centre and are more likely to take the risk with someone inexperienced. The other useful aspect of the Job Centre website was that a lot of the recruitment agencies use it for their lower level jobs so I was able to collate a fairly comprehensive list of all the agencies/other outlets who were advertising positions. I discovered recruitment agencies that I didn't even know existed.
  • Nps
    Nps Experienced Mentor Registered Posts: 782
    Well my second interview got me a job (I have yet to hear about the 1st). Working directly for the Financial Controller so the experience will be invaluable. I can't quite believe my luck, particularly as the pay and hours are far better than I ever dared hope for.

    So, proof that sometimes experience isn't the be all and end all, and that there are companies out there who are prepared to take a gamble on you. It really isn't all doom and gloom for us newbies (certainly not in all areas anyway). From the amount of interviews one recruitment agency is offering me, there actually appears to be a shortage of suitably qualified people in this area.
  • Jo Clark
    Jo Clark Font Of All Knowledge Registered Posts: 2,525
    Congratulations NPS :o
    ~ An investment in knowledge always pays the best interest ~
    Benjamin Franklin
  • shalinisharma
    shalinisharma Settling In Nicely Registered Posts: 25
    Hi Nps,

    Congrats.... wish you all the best for new job.:001_smile:
  • amurray
    amurray Feels At Home Registered, MAAT, AATQB Posts: 304
    Congratulations Nps :) Hope all goes well.

    I'm only studying Level 2, and it took me ages to find a role within Accounts, after many letters to accountancy firms and phonecalls to recruitment agencies it soon paid off.

    Rgds :001_smile:
    Completed AAT in March 2020
    Currently Studying: CIMA 'Operational Level'
  • bobber122
    bobber122 Settling In Nicely Registered Posts: 18
    Good afternoon NPS.

    Well done on getting the interviews and good luck with those. In reply to James, i just wanted to express the same thoughts as NPS on how you will be snapped up. I am 23 and starting my AAT in 2010. I got a finance assistant job and worked for 3 and a half years doing that. A couple of months ago before i finished my level 4 AAT i applied for some higher positions in which i thought i wouldnt get. In the end, i ended up getting the job i am in now which is Financial Controller and being only just AAT qualified i thought i wasnt good enough they actually were desperate to take me on because of my motivation to continue my studies and move on to bigger and better things.

    Just as NPS said, you will be snapped up. There is no doubt sometimes employers look for the enthusiasm in people rather than the 20 years experience because afterall anyone can learn to do a job but no one can learn to be the person an employer is looking for.

    I am now starting on CIMA in 2 weeksall funded by my employer. Go get um' James!

    Sorry to post in your thread NPS, im sure you wont mind.

  • Vlee
    Vlee Well-Known Registered Posts: 136
    Congratulations! It's a big change but you sound like it's absolutely the right thing so you'll be fab, I'm not surprised you have been snapped up so quick.

    I will be using all the tips and advice in a year or two so please stick around!
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