Thinking of putting CIMA on hold and going for AAT - will it help me find a job?

Calculatrix Registered Posts: 3

I am 39 and currently working in IT. I have been with the same company for 11 years - my career there has not just come to the end of the road, but overshot it and landed in the bushes. I have been studying CIMA since last year (self-study) and am about to sit my final Operational Level exam. I have some accounting experience, but that was gained during my vocational training/first jobs, so nothing that stands out on my CV.

I have been looking for entry level accounting jobs for six months now, but with zero results. There are many things about my CV that are potentially off-putting to recruiters (assumptions they may make about my age, current salary level or type of work I am willing to do), but it's my lack of recent, practical experience that is the biggest obstacle.

My observation is that depending on job level/industry, recruiters either look for recent finance/accounting graduates, or for people with a minimum of 2-3 years of solid experience under their belt, even for what appears to be the most menial of tasks. Job ads routinely ask for "ACCA, CIMA, or AAT students" but when I look at the profiles of people who have worked their way up the ladder from a junior position, they all pursued the AAT route. CIMA seems to be of more value for those with an academic background.

Given a) the 3-year work experience requirement of the CIMA qualification and b) the fact that there is quite a bit of overlap between AAT and the CIMA Certificate/Operational level syllabi anyway, I am now wondering whether I should put CIMA on hold and go for an AAT qualification instead. I am under the impression that employers would value a completed AAT qualification more than ongoing CIMA study, and there is also some more hands-on content in AAT (such as completing VAT returns, etc) that CIMA does not cover. What CIMA has taught me is how to work my way through very thick books and survive tightly timed exams.

I know plenty of people move on from AAT to CIMA, but has anyone ever gone the opposite way? And how different are the study approaches?
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