Q. My husband has been looking for an accounting job for months. He has over 10 years experience in cost accounting. He is now going for his MBA and is sitting for his CPA. Do you have any tips to give him to get an interview? He has not had one interview this year.
A. Experience in accounting, with the additions of a CPA and an MBA will help your husband be a very strong candidate for an array of roles in many industries. Adding these credentials to his current experience and skills is a good use of time, but not at the complete expense of job search time. Often people taking classes or programs for certification to enhance their skills will wait to start a search until they have completed their additional education. This kind of delay can have a negative impact on job search effectiveness and is not a mandate from employers.
Your frustration, and his, over a lack of interviews is to be expected. Getting interviews is one step toward the final goal of job offers. “Getting a job” is too big of a goal to measure against daily. The most effective job searches can be organized like most big projects – with interim goals, documentation of the many steps involved and metrics of activity leading to the goal.
Writing a great resume, which demonstrates your capabilities, is the first step. It needs to be complete, accurate, have no errors and be compelling to the reader. Be willing to adjust your resume based on feedback from knowledgeable sources, but don’t change it every time someone gives you a comment. Many people will over focus on editing and re-editing their resume as an excuse to avoid more difficult job search activity.
Effective job searches use all tools available, so a write up similar to your resume should be part of your LinkedIn profile. If you are a graduating senior, or a senior executive, and everywhere in between, you need a LinkedIn Profile. Let people find you. If you have skills employers are searching for, make it easy to be found. Make it easy for recruiters who are looking for people with your skill set to find you.
Find recruiters. Do the research on which recruiters fill the kind of jobs you are looking for. You should plan on working with several recruiters. Remember they work for the hiring organization and if they have the right opportunity for you, they will contact you. Stay flexible to the kind of opportunity they present to you and be very clear as you evaluate what kinds of roles you really want. Dedicate perhaps 10 to 20% of your time to recruiters.
Your husband might also consider contracting roles. Many recruiters offer both full time permanent roles and contract roles for projects to cover leaves or for temp to perm opportunities. With his background and skills, there are many types of organizations where he can use his skills. He should be able to gain interview experience with the recruiters and with companies. Your husband should focus on exploring industries he is interested in getting into and take contract opportunities that add to his experience.
In addition, networking activity can not be overlooked. Former colleagues form the base for a strong network and new contacts from MBA classes, faculty members, and university staff should be part of your husbands’ network. Study the concepts of effective networking as you would any other business class. This skill will be needed throughout a long and successful career and at least 40% of job search time should be spent on these activities.
Professional associations are also vital and there are many finance and accounting groups available to join. Your networking contacts can make recommendations about which groups to try and where to dedicate time. At least 10% of your time should be spent with these efforts.
Job seekers engaged in prolonged searches can also benefit from job search support groups. The sense of community, continuity, and sharing of best practices, can have a profound positive impact on job seeker behavior. Finding colleagues in this process can bring humor, perspective, and encouragement to a very demanding process.
Reviewing web listings and job boards will be a continuous process. Reviewing web sites of companies where you have a special interest can be valuable, and the larger boards where many roles are listed may offer insight to where the openings are. Perhaps 5% of your time should be spent here. Using this information, coupled with getting more details and introductions from your network, can make you a much more effective candidate for these roles.
Committing to each of these activities weekly and in the right proportion, will get your husband that much closer to the large “get a job” goal.
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Patricia Hunt Sinacole is president of First Beacon Group LLC, a human resources consulting firm in Hopkinton. She works with clients across many industries including technology, biotech and medical devices, financial services, and healthcare, and has over 20 years of human resources experience.
Elaine Varelas is managing partner at Keystone Partners, a career management firm in Boston and serves on the board of Career Partners International.
Cindy Atoji Keene is a freelance journalist with more than 25 years experience. E-mail her directly here.
Peter Post is the author of "The Etiquette Advantage in Business." Email questions about business etiquette to him directly here.
Stu Coleman, a partner and general manager at WinterWyman, manages the firm's Financial Contracting division, and provides strategic staffing services to Boston-area organizations needing Accounting and Finance workforce solutions and contract talent.
Tracy Cashman is Senior Vice President and Partner of the Information Technology search division at WinterWyman. She has 20 years of experience partnering with clients in the Boston area to conduct technology searches in a wide variety of industries and technology.
Paul Hellman is the founder of Express Potential, which specializes in executive communication skills. He consults and speaks internationally on how to capture attention & influence others. Email him directly here.