Job Search Struggles!! Advice needed please.

Hi Guys.
I am 4 weeks away from completing my AAT Level 2 which I have self funded through HLC. I have worked in an office environment for around 8 years. I have applied for so many jobs and not had much luck - not even 1 interview as of yet. Just wondering if anyone else is in the same position or has any advice for me?
I'm based in Essex so have the advantage of working in London if I want to, but all of the Trainee Accounts jobs have over 100 applications. I obviously just don't stand out.
How can I get experience if nobody will give me a chance?
Any advise will be appreciated!

Thanks :)

Comments

  • jmorgo7
    jmorgo7 Registered Posts: 18
    Hi EmBx,

    It took me about a year to get an interview for an accountancy job even though I had experience and was L3 qualified! Recruitment companies didn't seem to be much help, all they did was contact me with jobs and say "my profile fits the job spec perfectly" but yet couldn't get me an interview. I guess I didn't stand out either!

    I eventually found my current job on Gumtree, applying directly to an employer is a lot easier in my opinion. What roles are you looking at? I wanted an Accounts Assistant role but while I was searching I was open to purchase/sales ledger clerk or credit control or any other finance related roles just to get my foot in the door!

    Might be worth contacting local practices directly and asking about roles as it's probably easy for anyone's CV to get drowned out on the main job sites by the large number of applications.

    Good luck!
    StuartW
  • ariadne
    ariadne Registered Posts: 218
    Voluntary work is a good option for gaining experience, just ask around at all sorts of places, brownies and scouts need treasury help, churches and charity shops too. They can be hard to find but less obvious routes can work - I gave up finding a relevant voluntary job so found an admin job where there is a bit of money handling work but they've also suggested I also help and perhaps deputise the treasurer after seeing my CV - the Treasurer is a retired accountant from a top firm so will have contacts I could use. Try to use contacts you already have too so you can get a chat or even a week work shadowing/experience, you'll be surprised who people know, friends of friends. I asked a friend and she knows someone who owns his own firm who she can ask, I'd never have guessed! Volunteering and shadowing will make yourself stand out through your experience and show commitment to the profession.

    Remember that the 100 applicants won't always match the requirements of the job at all so don't be put off. Try to get help with your CV - the local council may fun courses for this or may have job clubs. You may want to continue your studies regardless, I already done L3 and hope this will make a difference to standing out against other applicants, as would gaining L4 or equivalent, but this is much stronger alongside voluntary work, even admin work will help if you've not done similar before or you need to brush up these skills. Another option is admin work with a bit of finance/accounts stuff, and temping may be easier to get too. London is a great place to be able to apply for work but ultra competitive. Get all the advice you can - AAT has a careers event in autumn I think, go along, I probably will too.
    StuartWChristianB
  • EmBx
    EmBx Registered Posts: 5
    jmorgo7 said:

    Hi EmBx,

    It took me about a year to get an interview for an accountancy job even though I had experience and was L3 qualified! Recruitment companies didn't seem to be much help, all they did was contact me with jobs and say "my profile fits the job spec perfectly" but yet couldn't get me an interview. I guess I didn't stand out either!

    I eventually found my current job on Gumtree, applying directly to an employer is a lot easier in my opinion. What roles are you looking at? I wanted an Accounts Assistant role but while I was searching I was open to purchase/sales ledger clerk or credit control or any other finance related roles just to get my foot in the door!

    Might be worth contacting local practices directly and asking about roles as it's probably easy for anyone's CV to get drowned out on the main job sites by the large number of applications.

    Good luck!

    I think it will be a case of perseverance! I initially started looking and applying for jobs as accounts assistant, purchase ledger etc over a year ago & realised I would need to be working towards AAT to even stand a chance. Im not looking for the same sort of jobs. Im pretty open to anything based in or around finance. The only problem I have got is not being able to take a large drop in salary - which most Junior roles seem to be offering around 12-15k. I have a home, car etc to run so cant afford that big a drop in my salary.

    Fingers crossed something will come up soon - or at least the opportunity to attend an interview so I can try and sell myself.
  • EmBx
    EmBx Registered Posts: 5
    meant to say im now looking for the same sort of jobs.
  • jmorgo7
    jmorgo7 Registered Posts: 18
    I did take a pay cut to come in to my current job but this was only due to the fact that I was offered a salary review after 3 month's of working. Maybe you could consider the savings you would make on completing L3 AAT with full study support from an employer instead of self-funded when facing a pay cut. 12-15k does seem quite low for London areas, a lot of practice salaries seem to be way lower than industry roles.
  • MarieNoelle
    MarieNoelle Trusted Regular Hampshire/Surrey borderModerator, MAAT, AAT Licensed Accountant Posts: 1,433
    Hi EmBx
    You say you have 8 years experience in an office environment . Even if not accountancy related, are there any skills you are already using you could highlight on your CV that would make you stand out?
    Working in practice needs a good grasp of computer skills, telephone manners, organisation, filing etc... This can make a huge difference for an employer!
    Try to re-work your CV so your transferable skills are visible.

    Good luck!
    Neillaw
  • EmBx
    EmBx Registered Posts: 5
    jmorgo7 said:

    I did take a pay cut to come in to my current job but this was only due to the fact that I was offered a salary review after 3 month's of working. Maybe you could consider the savings you would make on completing L3 AAT with full study support from an employer instead of self-funded when facing a pay cut. 12-15k does seem quite low for London areas, a lot of practice salaries seem to be way lower than industry roles.

    I would be happy to take a slight pay cut if level 3 was being funded and I had the opportunity to earn more after reviews etc, I just have quite high outgoings at the moment. Maybe its worth me applying for the lower salaries and selling myself ina n interview. :)
  • EmBx
    EmBx Registered Posts: 5

    Hi EmBx
    You say you have 8 years experience in an office environment . Even if not accountancy related, are there any skills you are already using you could highlight on your CV that would make you stand out?
    Working in practice needs a good grasp of computer skills, telephone manners, organisation, filing etc... This can make a huge difference for an employer!
    Try to re-work your CV so your transferable skills are visible.

    Good luck!

    Thanks Marie.
    I have all of those kind of skills already listed on my cv along with the fact that im an extremely quick learner etc. Im going to completely revamp my CV over the weekend. Fingers crossed I get some call backs in the coming weeks for jobs I have applied for. I have even posted on Facebook saying im willing to work Saturdays for free to gain experience. They say its not what you know its who you know lol.

    Thanks for your advice guys. :)
  • Sheena1707
    Sheena1707 Registered Posts: 5
    I'm facing the same problem. I am almost qualified at L3 but I cant even get interviews for finance officer roles. All the JDs say 'proven' experience working in an accounts team. Well ive done admin for 12 years and none of my jobs let me do anything more than petty cash! Then I thought I would try offer my services to companies for free. I contacted so many local organisations and showed them my CV but none of them wanted or needed help. Some of them already had aat students in their organisations and didnt need another. Others told me they couldnt trust a volunteer with their accounts. One voluntary charity interview I went to told me as I was on L3 they were afraid I would get bored with just bookkeeping and leave so they rejected me. 3 other interviews I went to said they need someone who can hit the ground running as they outsource their accountancy so there is no one in the office to help or advise or to assist with training. Overall I feel like ive wasted so much money on a course thats not getting me anywhere. And yes I have tried 5 recruitment agencies and they never call me back after i submit my cv. My job hunting skills arnt bad, I have worked as an office manager and PA for 12 years and I can easily get admin work so its not that I am unskilled it just that no one in finance is willing to give me a chance. How can I get 'proven' experience when even voluntary jobs dont want me?! I got my head bitten off in class today when I mentioned my employment struggles because apparently its all my fault and theres hundreds of recruitment agencies so im not looking hard enough; but if you actually look at the recruitment agencies a lot of them ask for proven work experience too. I tried approaching the finance department in my current job but that team is full of really blunt and mean people who power trip. The finance manager huffed at me and rolled his eyes when I said my degree was in history and said no he's not going to let me work in their team because I dont know what I want in life! When I said I just want to do shadowing to find out what area of the accounts team I would like to pursue he said no because there are more deserving people in the organisation than me! It was so rude. Ive decided to quit after level 3 and not do level 4, AAT has gotten me nowhere. I tried to get a career change but it seems like im going to be stuck doing admin and being a dogs body for the rest of my life.
  • ariadne
    ariadne Registered Posts: 218
    Sheena I'm sorry you are having a bad time. I posted above but waited for my youngest to start school before job hunting this September. I volunteered in the meantime and found it was tough to be trusted too, and I had my L3 already. I did as much as possible and emphasised anything slightly relevant on my CV. Making orders, filing invoices, counting out cash donations, dealing with suppliers...but also all the experience you do have in admin. It may have been a bit easier for me as I'd be off work so had to prove myself and starting at a lower level was accepted- I have a good degree and decent work experience so it was a concern. Making it clear that I was changing careers, wanted to start at the bottom and was in no rush to climb the career ladder probably helped. I got a job. But it was part time (which suits me anyway) and partly an admin role so a bit of a compromise. However it's working out well and will be a good stepping stone so I'd recommend trying to find an admin role with finance initially, I think the pay may also be better than a typical accounts assistant role. I chose not to continue studying until I found a job so that's a sensible decision, being over qualified and under experienced can be a trap. I know it's tough but there is still a possibility even if you go the long way round.
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