Your Quest To Get Out Of Accounting & Audit: How To Dodge Misleading Job Descriptions
Want to save yourself from pigeon holing your career in your attempts to break out of accounting and audit, but aren’t quite sure of all your exit options? Read on.
Forget how to make your CV/Resume stand out. Forget what you need to emphasize in interviews.
Before we start getting caught up in how we come across to recruiters and whether we are saying the right thing, it’s absolutely imperative to decode job descriptions to avoid being misled into taking dead-end roles.
It’s a topic that is rarely discussed, yet I’ve seen so many roles advertised as “strategy” or “commercial”, yet are (very) far from what they appear to be.
Here are a few tips on decoding job descriptions and breaking through the recruiter BS.
Firstly, remember that job advertisements are simply a form of marketing, written to attract applicants.
Job titles & descriptions are formulated in ways that will entice applicants and are optimized for popular key word searches (such as “strategy”) in order to get a wide range of applicants with the relevant skill sets.
It’s YOUR JOB to look past the marketing schpiel to the factual representation of the job role.
So what are the warning Signs?
Misalignment of a job title vs job description.
If the job title (or email subject title from a recruiter) has the word “strategy” in it (for example), but the description appears to comprise mostly technical accounting, then don’t get your hopes up!
Job titles are just something to search for in a huge pile of open roles. And the same role can differ in job title within one organisation, let alone across industries & other companies.
It’s a vanilla marketing method.
We’ve seen this countless times … reeling you in to their recruitment funnel to “discuss the opportunity further” over the phone or in person. Recruiters and employers know that they stand a much better chance of “hooking” a candidate into a role if they have the opportunity to convince them with their conversational sales pitch 1:1.
Recruiters wanting to “discuss further”, despite you stating that you don’t want particular roles.
Recruiters know that job-seeking is hard work.
They know that every stage of the recruitment process you pass through (and thus the more time you spend on an opportunity) deepens your desire to “win” for fear of having to start the process again elsewhere.
If you do meet a recruiter to discuss a role that you liked the sound of and they don’t elaborate much on the “strategy” elements of the role nor ask you many questions, then be extremely wary.
They’re likely to spend most of their time attempting to persuade you that it’s a role worth taking and will try to convince you that it’s your “best bet” for getting a more strategic role straight after qualifying as an Accountant.
[Here’s more on how to ensure recruiters take you seriously].
Backwards-looking wording in the job description.
The job description, and job description alone, is where you should spend your time assessing whether this is the strategic / commercial role you are looking for.
Most commonly you might find statements like “support the strategy & decision making process”. If they are closely followed by anything that mentions “reporting”, you need to look past it. This is highly likely to be a bog standard reporting role.
Words such as “monitoring”, “reporting” and “evaluating” all point to a role that looks backwards / historically (and will likely be a back office type role), rather than involving any activities that drive future performance and any of the experience you need to become CEO.
Interesting job responsibilities listed last in the list
Job responsibilities are generally placed in priority order with the first few bullets encompassing the core responsibilities you will have.
Often the last few bullet points are thrown in to include a few keywords that might appeal to potential candidates.
However, the more emphasis you see on certain aspects of the role, the more of your time will likely be spent on those tasks (e.g. lots of mention on IFRS/GAAP regulations yet only 1 line mentioning your involvement in decision making).
You may also notice mention of “potential” for you to get involved in X, Y or Z (i.e. those very desirable responsibilities you are looking for!).
This should raise alarm bells.
It would be risky business to depend on this aspect of the job coming to fruition. It very rarely does.
If employers are using recruiters to fill their open roles, then the job description acts as part of your contract of employment.
And contracts are there to be negotiated!
Empty promises such as mention of “potential to get involved in XYZ” serve recruiters well for attracting candidates with keywords, but mean employers aren’t legally bound to anything.
Recruiters may even tell you verbally that you will be working on interesting things, yet if it’s not detailed in writing, you’ll have ZERO guarantee or recourse from your future employer.
And if the recruiter declines to put it in the job description, you know what to do … Avoid.
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 , which I encourage you to check out!
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.
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!