Pre-application checklist: read this before you apply to an accountancy firm

Before you start filling out your online application form to an accountancy or financial management firm, make sure you can put a big tick beside each item on our checklist.

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Don’t forget to check this list before you submit your online application form for an accountancy graduate job - or, even better, before you begin applying to ensure you’re all set to write a successful application.

Have you…

… printed off the application form?

It’s a good idea to do so before you start completing it online, so you can read it through thoroughly and see exactly what’s involved. Then you can scribble down a few ideas that you can build on.

… done your research?

Accountancy employers want to make sure you’ve thought carefully about the personality of their firm. Many include an application form question such as: ‘Please tell us about your decision to apply to [firm], and what you believe is the main difference from our competitors.’

You must be able to answer this question. Working graduate accountants we spoke to last year said they wished they’d spent a little more time researching their new employer and sector before applying. Make sure you know what you will be doing in the job you want, so that you can make sure it is the job you want. Know what the organisation does and the markets it works in. You’d look at a menu before ordering your food, after all.

… chosen your service line?

Think carefully about which service line would suit you - most firms ask you to specify this at application stage. Talk to current staff in professional services firms, go to careers fairs and check out our feature, Which accountancy specialisation should you choose?

Our areas of work and organisation hubs will help you to research accountancy specialisations. Employer websites are another excellent source of information and advice.

You may find that your grades or choice of degree subject directly affect your options. With the exception of divisions for which firms have specific entrance criteria, however, choosing your specialisation is a really a matter of figuring out what best suits your personality.

… made sure you’re applying to the right programme?

This is probably only going to be an issue if you’re applying to a large professional services firm, which can have many different options for graduates. Some larger employers typically have over 20 schemes open to graduates.

…found out which professional qualifications are offered?

Show you have researched the professional qualifications on offer, that you are aware, for example, that a management accounting qualification is particularly suited to those wishing to enter industry.

… made sure you meet the minimum requirements and possess the required skills?

You can check employers’ websites and our organisation hubs for the competencies and qualifications an employer is looking for.

…written your password down somewhere?

Most online application forms have a ‘save and return’ function, so it’s possible to save your answers as you progress and return to them later on. Employers will not see your answers until you press ‘submit’. You will need to remember your password to access your application, however, so make sure you’ve kept a record of it!

… checked the deadline?

It sounds obvious, but make sure you’re applying before the deadline and, ideally, with time to spare. Accountancy firms tend not to have concrete deadline dates but instead recruit until their places are filled. Apply when the applications open – not just before they close. One employer recommends graduates allow at least one week to complete an application before the deadline and always to leave it overnight before completing a final check.

Overall it’s about giving yourself the best chance via canny application timing, showing career focus and differentiating yourself.

Finished the checklist? Now you can get started!

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