According to a new Accountemps survey released on Thursday, more than half (56 percent) of CFOs interviewed said they would advise entry-level professionals toward careers at small to midsize companies. When asked what specialization they would recommend for new graduates, almost three-quarters (74 percent) said general accounting, up from similar surveys conducted in 2010 (60 percent) and 2005 (49 percent).

The Accountemps survey was conducted by an independent research firm and was based on interviews with more than 2,200 CFOs from a stratified random sample of companies in more than 20 of the largest U.S. metropolitan areas.

CFOs were asked, "In which of the following employment environments would you recommend today's accounting graduates begin their careers?" Their responses were as follows:

  • Small to midsize company - 56%
  • Large corporation - 12%
  • Large public accounting firm - 7%
  • Other/don't know - 1%

CFOs also were asked, "Which one of the following areas of specialization would you recommend to someone just beginning his or her career in accounting?" Their responses were as follows:

  • General accounting - 74%
  • Tax Accounting - 8%
  • Internal Accounting - 7%
  • Cost accounting - 7%
  • Credit and collections - 3%
  • Other/don't know - 1%

"Working at smaller companies gives entry-level hires the opportunity to do a variety of assignments and gain exposure to several departments," stated Bill Driscoll, a district president of Accountemps. "Professionals at smaller firms need to fill multiple roles and be comfortable with responsibilities outside their job descriptions."
"Experience with general accounting principles and processes provides a solid career foundation for new accountants, including those who may decide to pursue a particular specialty in the future," Driscoll added.

Accountemps offers recent grads the following five tips for landing their first job as well:

  • Cast a wide networking net. Tell everyone you know that you're looking for employment. Meet new contacts by participating in industry associations, volunteer groups and alumni activities. Work with a specialized staffing firm that has deep networks in the local business community.
  • Double-check your digital footprint. Review and enhance your social media accounts so they are more professional. Bolster your online presence by commenting on industry blogs and, if you don't already have one, create a LinkedIn profile.
  • Do your homework. Before applying for an opportunity, research the business and its industry. Annual reports, press releases, and local business or financial publications are excellent sources of information.  
  • Customize your application materials. Tailor your resume and cover letter to each position for which you apply and address the hiring manager by name, if possible.
  • Remember to say "thank you." Show your appreciation to everyone who helps you in your job search. Also, promptly send thank-you notes to each person with whom you interview.

 Check out Accountemps infographic below. For more information, head to Accountemps' site here.