How to get your dream job in finance (even when you don’t have the right experience)

Follow these steps to land your dream job without the relevant experience.

Plan ahead

Ongoing planning is vital when it comes to career progression, says Lee Owen, senior business director at Hays Accountancy & Finance. “For the majority of finance professionals, career planning will be a mix of setting formal objectives through appraisals and continuing professional development, and more informal thought and discussion around your work plans,” he notes.

Managers and colleagues can often give guidance, while a mentor can help provide a valuable external perspective on your career path. A recruiter can also help you understand the skills employers are looking for.

Break things down

Take the time to think about your skills, what you enjoy doing and where you want to be, Owen advises. “You can do this by undertaking a SWOT analysis, (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, threats),” he explains. “Whether you measure success by promotion opportunities, contribution to society or addressing your work life balance, the first step is to identify your goals and motivations.”

Once you’ve taken stock of your long-term aspirations you can look at what sort of steps you can take to reach them, such as taking a training course or learning a new language.

Relate your experience to the role and tailor your CV accordingly

This may sound fairly obvious but your CV should highlight all your relevant experience and transferable skills for the role you are applying for, especially if you don’t have years of experience behind you.

“Even if you have minimal experience think about how this can relate to the role you are applying for or how you can demonstrate that your skills are transferable,” Owen notes.

Be open and receptive

Being open and receptive to new opportunities could be a great way of fast-tracking your career, says Karen Shaw, group accountant at Fairhome Group “Get as much experience as possible in all aspects of accounting by being open to new projects, if you get the opportunity to do so,” she advises. “A can-do attitude goes a long way. Just because you haven’t had exposure to a certain area of accounting doesn’t mean that you will not be successful. Use the knowledge of individuals around you and don’t be afraid to ask for help.”

Stay on top of the news

“Make sure you stay on top of industry news and changes to legislation and look at how you can improve your technical and soft skills which will set you apart from your peers and improve your chances of securing a job,” Shaw advises.

Network and go to as many industry events as possible

Shaw says networking and ‘getting out there’ is essential. “Get involved with your associations networking events, you might hear of your dream job opportunity by attending one before it’s even advertised,” she notes. “The fact you are at an event will demonstrate you have a keen professional interest in finance.”

Dazzle them at the interview

“Remember that your interview begins the moment you walk into the building,” says Owen. “Ensure you not only introduce yourself well to the interviewer, but also to the employees you may meet beforehand, whether this be at reception or whilst you are waiting.”

You can also use your waiting time to read up on the company, in case there is anything you may have missed. “There may be company brochures or copies of the organisation’s annual report which could give you that last minute insight so use your waiting time wisely,” says Owen. “Ultimately, if you are confident, well prepared, have the right skills, qualifications and experience, and are very clear about the value you’ll bring to a business, you will make a compelling case for being offered the job. To stand out, always try and convey how you will bring success to an organisation – and how you can work collaboratively alongside others.”

Georgina Fuller is an award winning freelance journalist and editor.

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