As a Newly Qualified Accountant, you will be the hottest property on the recruitment market and as such when making this pivotal career move it is imperative to have a clear idea of the career route you want to take. Without this the danger is that as soon as you make it known you are looking, you will be inundated with offers, so without clarity you could end up pressured to take a route you haven’t fully thought through.
Obviously, your choices will be partly restricted based on your previous experience and deciding which path will be the most suitable for you after qualifying can be quite a challenge. However, determining your career objectives during the early stages of your profession is important as each option can lead you onto a different road. It is very important to be thinking a few roles ahead of where you currently are. The question you should be asking is ‘what experience do I need gain to get to my longer term career goal?’
BIG vs SMALL
The first choice could be big company vs SME. Both options have pluses and minuses.
Working within an SME will offer you an early chance to gain a real overview of the demands of the business. Moreover, this route will allow you to have more influence internally and could offer genuine opportunities to make decisions and see them swiftly implemented.
Whereas large organisations may not be as agile in implementing your ideas and changes, they will offer a clear context in which to work, exposure to senior management, more opportunities to business partner across departments, clear career paths and the opportunity to develop networks.
TYPE OF ROLE
Once you have decided upon this you need to think about the type of role you want, again keeping in mind your end career goal. E.g. – if you think you want to be a Group FC in the future, you probably do not want to head straight into a business-partnering role.
Financial Accounting – A financial accounting role will build on your qualification and give you a solid foundation for the rest of your career. It is easier to gain technical experience early on in your career, rather than once you have climbed the ladder and so, it can give a strong basis for the future. It will allow you to understand the fundamentals of finance, which will be important as you move into leadership roles.
Management Accountant – You will gain more commercial experience than you might in a Financial Accounting role. It will allow you the opportunity to business partner with cost centre owners and be involved in budgeting processes. Your reports will often be used by management in their decision-making.
Financial Analysis – Analytical roles are often the most sought after, as they can be seen as fun! They require you to use your commercial acumen and will often see you interact / business partner with non-financial departments. The experience can give you a much faster understanding of the commercial nature of a business.
Reporting – Reporting roles will involve an element of analytical and/or accounting work, but your main function is to interpret the numbers and communicate the “story” to senior management. These roles can provide an overview of the business, without going into much depth. They give excellent exposure to the business and senior management.
Internal Audit – Add value and help a business achieve its strategic goals by improving the effectiveness of risk management, control and governance processes. A chance to really understand the workings of a company and often used as a stepping-stone into the wider business.