In today’s competitive graduate market a degree is not enough to guarantee a graduate finance position. Graduates who do not list student membership of a professional body on their cv or application are indicating to a prospective employer a lack of serious intent to work in accountancy and finance. Unsurprisingly such applications risk being rejected in the first stage of the selection process.
At the ‘Meet the Professionals’ drop-in session in July, graduates in accountancy and finance had an opportunity to meet representatives from CIMA, CIPFA and ICAEW and discuss the advantages of joining one of these UK accountancy and finance professional bodies.
As Faisal Khan, Head of Client Engagement CIPFA explained, it’s crucial that students start thinking about joining a professional body early: ‘I’ve found that employers are increasing pro-choice. They now expect students to know what qualification they want to take, what industry they want to work in, and what type of accounting they want to do before they’ve even applied.’
Emma Gilson, Marketing Executive, Student Recruitment Team, ICAEW agrees: A lot of companies now offer placements and internships, so they’re getting students into the industry earlier. That’s why we’re here today – to help students develop an awareness of what companies are looking for and to help them better utilise their time at university.’
Jason Nye, Account Manager, adds ‘It may seem obvious but you have to stand out from the crowd, doing what you can above and beyond your degree studies is what employers want to see….so join a professional body and if it doesn’t affect your degree studies take some exams (your degree is always priority)! From experience I can tell you this, work hard now, go above and beyond what it expected to you, demonstrate your ‘worth’ in any opportunity given to you and you will succeed.’
Prior to this event, Paul Cannons, Faculty Employability Consultant at GSM Careers, had delivered a series of presentations to students in lectures extolling the virtues of belonging to a professional body. Among the numerous benefits he outlined were student access to internships and employers, as well as opportunities to network and attend employer led events.
One such example is the ACCA Advantage Fast Track to a Finance Career. This graduate event on 23 and 24 September 2014 will help graduates explore the finance profession and options with over 50 ACCA registered practices from across the UK. Among the employers present will be: Baker Tilly;Boots; Dyson; Grant Thornton; Mazars; and Talk Talk. A free place can be booked at this event by registering on ACCA Advantage.
Another major asset available to student members of a professional body is access to past papers and commercial awareness podcasts; the former can enhance the academic performance of a graduate and the later their performance at an interview.
Those students who attended the informal chat with the experts found out how joining an accountancy body can enhance their employability. Having taken the initiative, they left the event in a position to make an informed decision on which accountancy body to join. If they go on to join and add student membership to their cv’s, this will give them a competitive edge over their peers and present a more credible, professional image to financial recruiters.