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When Diplomas Aren’t Enough

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May 28, 2009

Even if jobs are available to recent accounting grads, just holding a diploma might not be enough.

A recent survey by Accountemps found that 93 percent of chief financial officers believe it is important for accounting and finance students to have gained work experience in the field while attending school.

Ahh, the infamous Catch-22.

“Even for entry-level roles, employers want new hires who can contribute immediately, particularly in light of the leaner teams many companies are operating with today,” said Max Messmer, chairman of Accountemps.  

If candidates want to find a job, they must be flexible, proactive and creative, according to Messmer.

“New entrants to the job market should bolster their resumes with internships, volunteer work and community activities -- anything that demonstrates a strong work ethic, solid communication skills and technical aptitude,” he said.

There is some perspective light at the end of the tunnel, however.

“Companies that are not actively hiring fulltime employees may still offer summer internships, which provide recent graduates a foot in the door with prospective employers and a potential path to a fulltime job,” Messmer said.

It also helps them build a network in the field.

Here are some other tips Accountemps offers to recent college graduates looking to broaden their work experience:

*Consider part-time work. It’s a great way to gain experience and showcase skills to a potential employer who may not have the resources to extend a fulltime offer right away.

*Look for temporary options. Staffing firms frequently have temporary assignments for which students or recent college graduates may be a match.

*Volunteer your services. Helping out a community organization or trade association in your field is a great way to keep your experience current and expand your network.


*Make the most of your current job. Even if your current job isn’t in your field or industry of choice, look for creative ways to enhance your skills. Volunteer for assignments beyond your job description. Most employers today are happy to have an employee willing to take the initiative.

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