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    How to Stand Out as a CPA Candidate
    The Vault

    How to Stand Out as a CPA Candidate

    March 2024

    The employment outlook is bright for CPAs looking for a job. Accountants are in high demand and unemployment rates are low. There isn’t a job out there that couldn’t use someone adept at tracking and managing finances.

    While demand is high, competition is stiff. Today’s remote workforce means applicants from all over the country (not just a local area) could be vying for the same position.

    Employers are also very selective in who they hire. Experience tops their list of job candidate attributes. For entry-level applicants, competing with those who have time in the industry under their belt is challenging.

    How can you shine brighter than other CPA candidates and get the position you’re aiming for? We have some helpful resume, interview, and life tips to guide you in your Charlotte, NC accounting job search.

    Perfect Your Resume

    While you don’t need The Perfect Resume to stand out, you might want to perfect (tweak) your resume using these tips.

    ● Put your professional summary first. You want the busy resume speed-reader to see who you are and how your skills and abilities fit with the job description at a glance. Give your readers one short paragraph about your experience, skills, and vital qualities. If you’re applying for an entry-level position, this paragraph will focus more on your education and internship experience.

    ● Explain your value. If you’ve noticed one thing about today’s ads and commercials, it would be that hardly any companies mention their products’ features anymore. They focus on value-added statements and stories. For example, Airbnb’s commercials don’t say they are a website where you can rent space instead of a hotel. They build a feeling of having a unique experience during your travels.

    Your resume is a commercial advertising you. You’ll attract the most attention when describing your value versus listing your experiences. For example, if you list your proficiency in XYZ ERP systems, relate that to the value you added. It might look something like, “Quickly learned XYZ ERP system and taught it to others.” Or “Implemented XYZ ERP system to update inefficient processes in my firm.”

    ● Use keywords/phrases. Your submission might pass through automated screening tools before humans lay eyes on it. To catch the attention of a well-trained bot, include words and phrases found in the job posting (as long as you have that experience, that is).

    Practice Interviewing

    Your interviewer will likely ask you a broad range of questions, from technical knowledge to soft skills. Here are some aspects to prepare for as you practice for the interview.

    ● Technical Questions: Your interviewer will ask knowledge-based questions to assess that you do, indeed, have the know-how and ability to perform well. They’re likely also trying to gauge your future with the company. Be ready to discuss foundational skills that can propel you into future leadership roles within the company.

    ● Soft Skills: Accountants don’t work in a bubble. Good communication, teamwork, and problem-solving qualities are necessary for today’s rising accountant. Your interviewer will likely ask you to give real-life examples of how you managed interpersonal dilemmas, such as owning up to a mistake, breaking bad news to a client or co-worker, or handling an ethical conundrum.

    ● Salary Talk: Be ready to answer a question about what you expect to earn if you get the job. Research the value of your skills and experience in conjunction with the job level and location of work.

    ● Remote Work: You might get asked to name attributes about yourself that make you an excellent virtual employee. Also, you might have to explain the challenges of working remotely.

    Bonus Appeal

    For those highly-competitive positions, it never hurts to have an ace in the hole. Do the following if you’d like to boost your attractiveness even more.

    ● Network: Increase your opportunities to meet people in and out of your profession in a fun and engaging way. You may even meet someone from the firm you want to work for, which can boost your chances of getting hired. You increase your chances of learning about job opportunities and inside-the-industry-scoops. You could even find your life-long mentor.

    Sign up for a membership to a professional accounting organization. Attend professional networking events. Go all-in on a hobby and connect with local hobbyists.

    If you’re on the shy side, make it a goal to chat with at least one person when you attend events. Networking helps you meet others who could help you with your professional goals. In turn, you might help someone else make the right connections.

    ● Continuous learning: Commit to ongoing education, even if it’s about your favorite pastime. In addition to your CPE (continuing professional education), consider taking extra courses in technology, software, and analysis. Subscribe to a professional trade journal or two to stay up-to-date on the latest in your field.

    Multiple Offers

    If you have done your homework and apply for more than one position and get multiple offers, congratulate yourself on a job well done. Unfortunately, choosing which offer to accept can be challenging.

    To make your decision easier, create a vision of what you want from your job and life. Choose the offer that most closely aligns with your goals.

    Also, don’t forget to consider non-salary benefits and perks. For example, one position may offer more take-home pay but doesn’t have the robust health and dental insurance coverage that another firm provides.

    Finally, look at the long-term picture. Which job will be most beneficial to you in the long run? Does one emphasize professional development? Will one allow you deeper and broader hands-on experience?

    Standing Out

    You have a lot of career opportunities in accounting as a CPA. Tailor your resume to focus on how you add value. Get past automated resume-reading software by adding keywords and phrases from the job posting. Practice answering various technical and soft skill-related questions, including salary and remote work. Network and devote yourself to continued learning to rise above the pack and stand out as the top candidate.



    Looking to outshine other CPA candidates and land the job you want in Charlotte, NC? Explore this helpful infographic for tips on navigating your accounting job search.4 CPA Candidate Strategies Infographic

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