Let’s face it, every business needs an Accountant. Restaurant groups need them, as do advertising agencies, architects and football clubs. I always encourage candidates to ‘think outside the box’ when exploring their career options. What do you enjoy? What ignites your passions? What will get you out of bed with enthusiasm on a dark winter’s morning?
Moving into, let’s say, the media or entertainment sector without a track record in that sector is never going to be a breeze, but it’s by no means impossible. Perhaps you had client exposure during training or subsequently? Perhaps you are so involved in that world in your personal life that you have an in-depth understanding of the issues? Maybe you have a transferable skill that would be highly rated by a prospective employer?
It’s all about making the strongest possible case for yourself. Think about what you have to offer that a prospective employer will want to buy. Where can you add value? How well will your skills or experience transfer across? If you are serious about an ‘outside the box’ role, this first stage analysis is critical as it helps to build your case and focus on the ‘customer’ – i.e. the employer. And be brutally honest with yourself – don’t let dreams or passions cloud your judgement and don’t waste time chasing the impossible dream; do your research and work out where you might fit. A good recruitment consultant should be able to help you with this – balancing your ambitions with a sense of realism.
The next stage is to consider you as ‘the person’ alongside you as ‘the Accountant’. Do you have the right personality traits for the desired sector? Will the cultural fit genuinely work? Will the chemistry be right? Don’t delude yourself here, and try to find out as much as you can about what really goes on inside, say, an advertising group before you make any decisions. Personality is undoubtedly a huge factor; sectors such as these thrive on the ‘big personality’ – including within the finance teams – so, if you’re a shrinking violet, you might need to think again.
With this year’s World Cup and the London Olympics a couple of years further down the line, sport is going to be on everyone’s lips. Have you considered working as an Accountant in the sports, leisure and tourism industries? It’s certainly competitive and salaries are generally lower (often around 15% less than the market average) but, for those with sporting passions, the benefits – such as a box at Arsenal or trackside access at an F1 race – can outweigh the downside. Again, it’s all about making a strong case for yourself.
So, the message is that there are plenty of opportunities out there in some pretty exciting sectors, and although it’s often not easy to find a way in, it’s by no means impossible with the right preparation, planning and perhaps a little help.
Paul Collier is the WHMS Commerce Director heading up the team of 45. Paul has worked within the WH Marks Sattin group for over 7 years, moving up and across the markets. He is currently leading the commerce division into its next stage of development.