FAQ – When to leave for new career opportunities after Accounting & Audit?

In these FAQ posts, we answer the most frequently asked questions we receive from clients and readers making their career moves out of Accounting & Audit, what else you need to be mindful of and hints & tips to ensure you give yourself the best possible chances of securing that next dream role.  


In this FAQ, we’re covering when to leave Audit and Accounting to make you an attractive candidate for a more commercial and strategic career. Whether you’re on a 2 or 3 year graduate scheme/not yet fully qualified or an experienced professional, be mindful of the below.


Are you wondering:

  • When to start applying?
  • Will getting a promotion after qualifying help me move from Audit and Accounting to a more commercial and strategic role?
  • What would most impress employers / recruiters?


Let’s get to it…



When to start applying?


If you don’t want to repeat another busy season, want to have first move advantage over all of your peers (and there are A LOT of them) and want to show future employers that you’re hungry for progression then start applying much sooner than you think.


For reference, I had a 3-year contract for a grad scheme and I started having my first interviews 8 months before my 3-year contract was up.


I interviewed and learnt about all types of roles, companies and industries and this helped me target a role I most wanted. With a 1-month notice period with my employer I moved into my new role 3 months before my contract ended.


The process can take weeks or months depending how focused and lucky you are (i.e. whether or not a potential employer wants a new hire secured as fast as you want to leave!)


We recommend starting to put yourself out there ASAP even if you have some exams to finish or think you’re fine where you are for a few more months. 


By doing so you will give yourself MANY more options, you feel less pressured to take jobs you’re not 100% sure about, you feel less trapped in your current role, you have greater bargaining power with recruiters/new employers and it’s also great practice.


Note that practising interviews isn’t just about you getting more confident to speak with your potential future employer in this environment. Practicing interview techniques to break out of Audit and Accounting is about perfecting what you need to say and demonstrate to sell yourself for that role you’re aiming for. 



Will getting a promotion after qualifying help me move from Audit and Accounting to a more commercial and strategic role? 


Maybe you’re thinking about staying on after qualification and going for promotion because:

  1. You’re Manager mentioned you’re an exceptional candidate
  2. You have heard not many people stay after qualifying so your chances are high


Whatever the reason and how true it might be, consider the opportunity cost of staying.


Realistically, are you going to be doing anything drastically different in the extra years you stay in the role?


If you’ve not been very fortunate in your qualifying years (e.g. you’ve not had any managerial experience of the juniors below you or had any interaction with a client or two) then it could have some benefits of getting that experience.


Otherwise you’re likely just going to have an increased workload to help you get that promotion all whilst doing the same type of work you already know how to do (or at least it might appear to be the same type of work to an outsider).


Further to the above, you are missing out on huge learning curves in a different field of work and increased earnings (post qualification you are worth much more than what the Big 4 or similar offer you) and you always get a substantial pay rise when you move company, that’s one of the reasons so many people job hop nowadays.


An early promotion might make you appear a good candidate to a potential employer, but it likely won’t make you any better at a different role if the actual experience and work isn’t relevant.


Therefore because of the above, getting a promotion whilst in your current role likely won’t help you get a more senior role in any NEW type of role you’re pursuing. Saying that, it could help you get promoted in that next role slightly faster, but you’ll still need to prove you are worth being promoted.



What would most impress potential employers / recruiters? 


Think about what effect if might have if you stick around for longer in your current role and don’t get a promotion. It can look like you weren’t “in demand” by other companies and that you aren’t one of the most proactive and sought-after candidates.



New employers for more strategic and commercial roles tend to not want you to be an experienced Auditor / Accountant anyway. They want a freshly qualified candidate they can mould into the new job and develop themselves, but also they want someone who isn’t happy being just an Auditor and Accountant – it could appear that you are satisfied in your current path if you stick around for longer.



This FAQ-series intended to give you a quick and dirty overview to some of the most frequently asked questions about making career moves after Accounting & Audit. This particular post covered timing – when to start applying for your next role, with other articles coming soon!



Exit Options | Mapping the post-accounting & audit landscape

A lot of the clients we coach ask about moving into more strategic & commercial roles after spending time in traditional accounting & audit, but don’t know where to start or even what opportunities exist …so-much-so that we’ve put together a map of the landscape of accounting exit opportunities, which I encourage you to check out!


Want to land (and master) more strategic and commercial roles?

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Spice up your CV/Resume for the post-accounting & audit world

We’ve created a digital guide specifically to help those of you applying for more commercial & strategic roles. Our straight-talking CV/Resume advice for Accountants/Auditors is the only guide that is highly-specific to the traditional accounting & audit background: we give you real-life good & bad examples for showcasing your experience for strategic roles, the best structure & content to win over recruiters, a strategy for distributing your CV/Resume, interview advice, and more!



Want personalised advice from one of our Co-Founders?

We’ve been where you are and can help you forge your swift exit. Click here to Get Coached.



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