Landing your first accounting job
Landing your first accounting job

By Hari Sharma (Aakash)

Mon Apr 08 2024

Landing Your First Accounting Job in Australia: A Practical Guide

As an international student who arrived in Australia to pursue a Master of Professional Accounting, I was filled with aspirations and dreams. Coming from Nepal, where I had already accumulated three years of experience as an Accountant, I was eager to dive into the Australian accounting industry. However, landing my first accounting job was not as straightforward as I had hoped. At times, I felt quite disheartened. Like many of my peers, I learned that transitioning into the workforce required patience, perseverance, and a strategic approach.

Now with years of experience working in the Australian accounting sector, I have gathered insights and strategies that I wish to share. I have realized that there is a significant gap between what universities teach and the skills required in the workplace. To bridge this gap, I recommend focusing on the following areas:

Master Fundamental Accounting Skills

Before you can convince employers to hire you, ensure you are proficient in basic accounting, bookkeeping, and payroll tasks. Your ability to execute these fundamental responsibilities confidently is what will make you a valuable asset to any team.

The way we do bookkeeping and accounting have changed significantly. Most tasks are now automated, and a good understanding of accounting software can improve efficiency. Proficiency in accounting software is almost non-negotiable. Start by learning popular software such as Xero and MYOB. Even if your next employer uses different software, understanding one software will make learning another much easier. Furthermore, being tech-savvy is a significant advantage. Familiarise yourself with digital tools that can automate and streamline accounting processes, and stay updated with technological trends in the industry.

Learn Excel (or Google Sheets)

As an accountant, you will be using spreadsheets (Excel, Google Sheets, or Numbers) every day. Master Excel at least to an intermediate level. You can find many short courses online (check out Excel courses on LinkedIn Learning).

Refine Your Resume

Your resume is your first impression. Tailor it to highlight your relevant skills, experiences, and achievements. Ensure it speaks to your strengths and is aligned with the jobs you are applying for. Don’t simply use one resume to apply for different positions- customise it to match with job description.

Optimize Your LinkedIn Profile

In today’s digital age, your online presence is just as important as your resume. A well-optimized LinkedIn profile can be a powerful tool in attracting the attention of industry professionals and recruiters. Use the tools within LinkedIn to showcase your skills, recommendations, and personal brand.

Network & Volunteer

The power of networking cannot be overstated. Engage with professionals in the field, attend industry events, and don’t hesitate to reach out for advice or mentorship. Sometimes, a single conversation can open doors to numerous opportunities. Volunteering is another great way to connect with like-minded people. It is also an excellent way to gain practical experience, especially when finding your first job, as it demonstrates your initiative and commitment to your career.

Seek Mentorship

Mentors can provide guidance, advice, and support as you navigate your career path. Connect with the career center at your university or reach out within your personal and professional networks to find someone willing to invest in your growth. If you are an associate member of CPA Australia, you can also apply to become a mentee.

Join Career-Ready Programs

Participating in career-ready programs can significantly boost your employability by providing you with important skills and connections. Check out Skillaroo’s Accounting career-ready program here.

Stay Motivated and Don’t Lose Hope

It’s crucial to stay motivated and maintain your optimism, even if it takes a few months to secure your first job. The path to your first accounting role can be longer than anticipated, but persistence and a positive outlook are key to overcoming the challenges you’ll face.

Embarking on this journey as an international student was fraught with challenges, but it was also incredibly rewarding. If you’re navigating a similar path, remember that persistence and strategic planning are key. And if you ever feel like you could use some guidance or simply wish to share your experiences, don’t hesitate to connect. I’m always up for a coffee catch-up and eager to support fellow aspiring accountants in any way I can.

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