How to Get an Accountant Job
Do you want to work as an accountant? Accountancy is a noble profession indeed. The services of accountants are needed in almost all organizations such as public, private, profits oriented, or non-profit organizations. For you to work as an accountant, there are many factors that will be put into consideration. These are discussed below:
You can’t just wake up one day and decide that you are looking for an accounting job. It requires adequate planning. This planning begins with the choice, of course, you study at the University. If you want to work as an accountant, it is expected that you must have completed your bachelor’s degree or its equivalent in accounting. These days, you may not necessarily need to pass through a traditional classroom before you can obtain a bachelor’s degree in accounting. Many Universities now run online courses which are more flexible than a traditional classroom. If you didn’t study accounting, it may be difficult for you to get an accounting job. If you have a good grade in accounting, this can give you an edge over other candidates with lower grades. Accounting is one of the most popular courses in Universities. Therefore, there are many accounting graduates looking for jobs. The big four audit firms and multinational companies usually like to go for accountants with very high grades. So, the competition is higher among people with lower grades.
If you want to specialize or work in the public, you may need to get a professional qualification from The Institute of Chartered Accountants of Nigeria (ICAN) or the Association of National Accountants of Nigeria (ANAN). There are other reputable foreign professional bodies such as the Association of Certified Chartered Accountants, UK (ACCA). But if you want to practice accounting here in Nigeria, you will still need to be a member of a local professional body. Without professional qualifications, there is a limit to the level you can reach as an accountant.
Obtain Relevant Experience
You don’t need to wait till the time you complete your course at the University before you start looking for jobs. You can start acquiring practical experience while still in school. For instance, you can take up a volunteering job in your local church, club, and other social organization. You can vie for a financial position at school. During holidays or during the period of incessant labour union strikes, you can approach audit firms and offer to work for free so that you can be exposed to auditing and taxation. Also, the government in partnership with some reputable organizations has internship programs for young professionals. However, this may require that you go through some selection process. You can take advantage of such an internship program. All of these will add together to your work experience. So, by the time you graduate, you can add relevant experience to your curriculum vitae. You can’t be compared with someone who is green from school without any experience.
Some accounting jobs are not advertised. Some organizations rely on referrals from trusted individuals. So you need to know how to interact with people. Let them know that you are looking for a job. You need to be specific about this. This will help people to easily remind you when such an opportunity arises.
As an accountant, your employer will expect you to be able to perform certain functions. However, your roles may depend on the size of the organization and the number of personnel in the Accounts Department. If you will be working with a small-sized organization, you may likely be responsible for all the accounting functions. But if there are two or three accountants working in the organizations, roles may be shared among them. Notwithstanding, you should be able to carry out the following functions:
- Classify the company’s transactional data and record AR transactions – invoice item collection and support, invoice creation, invoice distribution, and payment collection
- Own and improve upon accounting, reporting, and financial operations and processes for accounts receivables
- Prepare and process payroll
- Reconcile internal data to accounting posted balances and perform complex bank reconciliations
- Partner with the operations team and perform daily inquiries on unusual transactions
- Monitor and update journal entries using accounting software
- Assist with preparation of monthly reporting package, and prepare monthly working papers prepared for the monthly/ quarterly/ annual closing
- Assist management in the decision-making process by preparing budgets and financial forecasts.
- Assist in developing and documenting accounting policies
- Work with the product team to understand any potential changes in the product and their effect on the accounting data
- Understand the accounting implications of new products or processes in the company and participate in defining the required adjustments from an accounting process perspective
- Support external audit and miscellaneous reporting requirements
- Calculate, record, and classify monthly revenues from the company’s different products, perform analytical procedures, and investigate fluctuations from the budget with different business units
What Employers Are Looking for:
If you are applying for the post of accountant, your letter of application/curriculum vitae should contain enough information about the qualities that the employer is looking for. That is the only reason you can be shortlisted for an interview. Below are the qualifications and skills you need to have:
- Bachelor’s degree in Accounting, Finance, Economics or relevant field
- Four to five years of relevant accounting experience, out of which at least 2 years of experience at a startup
- Experience with high volume transactions
- Strong knowledge of Microsoft Office (especially Excel) and accounting systems
- Excellent knowledge of accounting
- Experience at a corporate accounting department of a well-funded startup or experience working for a public accounting firm
- Good understanding of both financial and operational controls
- Strong analytical mind and an eye for detail
- Ability to be flexible and comfortable with changing requirements
- Accounting skill
- Communication skills (verbal, written, and presentation)
- Numeracy skills in order to analyze facts and figures
- Analytical skills
- Computer skill
- Time management skills and the ability to deliver to deadlines
- Negotiation skills in order to get the best price and value for money
If you realized that you are deficient in the above qualifications and skills listed above, it will be nice for you to quickly work on the areas of deficiency.
Where to Get a Job
You can get a job as an accountant in any organization as long as they carry out financial transactions. Every organization requires an accountant to keep its financial records appropriately. Besides, there are few wealthy individuals that hire accountants to help them keep records of their financial assets. The opportunity is limitless. Therefore, you don’t need to restrict yourself to a particular sector especially if you deliberately want to develop yourself in that career path. For instance, someone who wants to practice auditing may want to get a job in an audit firm.
Accountants will forever be relevant. However, with the advent of accounting software and other tools, many accounting jobs are being threatened. With the use of accounting software, you will realize that what five people used to do can be effectively handled by two or three persons. Also, with little training on how to use accounting software, many people who are non-accountants now perform accounting functions.
So, if you want to remain relevant as an accountant, you need to move past the traditional accounting roles. You need to be versatile. You should be skilled in IT and financial analysis. You need to know how to quickly adapt to changing trends in your environment. In addition, be prepared to take leadership roles that may not necessarily relate to accounting.