On January 30, 2013, Calgary will be hosting the Accounting and Finance Career and Job Expo with over 45 companies in attendance. We talked with one of the event organizers, Lise Stransky from the Certified General Accountants Association of Alberta (CGA), to find out more about the event and the current state of the finance industry in Alberta:
Lise, there is above average employment growth projected for all major finance related occupations over the next five years. Was this expo organized partly because employers are finding it hard to fill finance related positions?
This is the first time we have organized this event and it is first big event that CGA and CMA (Certified Management Accountants of Alberta) have collaborated on since we merged associations in October. The expo was organized primarily to help our students find positions in order to fulfill their work experience required for designation. This, in turn, helps employers to find qualified accounting and finance professionals for their organizations. Anyone who is interested in positions in the accounting and finance field are invited to attend, whether they have a designation or not. It is an excellent way to do research on current and future opportunities, as well as learn more about getting an accounting designation.
Will companies be looking to hire at this event? Should attendees bring current resumes, or is it more an opportunity to network and learn more about the companies in attendance?
Both! Some companies will be there with an immediate need for candidates to fill current vacant positions. Other companies may not be hiring right now, but are there to source candidates for future positions. It is definitely an opportunity to network and learn more about the companies. Attendees can bring a resume, but they may hear “Apply Online” from many of the organizations in attendance. This can be discouraging, but my advice is – don’t get discouraged! Many organizations have systems in place to collect applications and resumes, so use the expo as an opportunity to gather as much information as possible, in order to create a customized, targeted resume. My advice is to bring a personal business card, and resist the urge to hand in a general resume. Take the opportunity to gather information, and submit a customized resume after the expo.
Lise, we have been told that recent and current education is vital for those in accounting fields, and that if jobs seekers have not taken an accredited course in the past 12 months, it may be a flag to employers. Is that true, and if so, is that the case for most positions in the finance sector?
Most positions in the accounting and finance sector require a designation (CGA, CMA or CA) or a designation in progress. A designation/designation in progress shows potential employers an individual’s commitment to professional development, ethics, trust, integrity and professional competency. For anyone who wants to grow and develop their career in the accounting and finance sector, a designation is essential. If you are looking to hold a position beyond junior level in accounting or financial management, you need an accounting designation.
Besides doing some research on the companies in attendance before the event (at the Library!), is there any advice you have for job seekers to help them make a stand out impression?
In order to prepare our attendees for the Expo, we have been sending them Career Fair Preparation tips. Anyone who registered for the expo has and will receive these tips, and I’ve selected a few as advice to help job seekers make a stand out impression:
- Career Fair Preparation Tip #1: Know your strengths and skills and be able to talk and write about them. This helps you talk about yourself to employers and construct your resume.
- Career Expo Preparation Tip #2: Do your research. On yourself. And on the employer. If you are not clear on what YOU have to offer, it will be difficult to convince an employer you have what it takes to work for them. Take some time now to do a self-assessment. Figure out who you are, what you do best, your employability skills and unique traits, the places and environment that give you energy, and the things that motivate you.
- Career Fair Preparation Tip #3: What should you wear? We recommend business casual or business professional. You will be making a first impression on potential employers – dress the part!
- Career Fair Preparation Tip #4: Conversation Tips. Have a great professional handshake and make eye contact when introducing yourself. After introducing yourself with your first and last name, exchange business cards with the recruiter. Ask valid questions applicable to the organization or industry. Let the recruiter take the lead in the conversation to avoid sounding as if you are “pitching” (or an annoying know it all).
- Career Fair Preparation Tip #5: Follow Up after the event. Send a thank you. Follow up with the recruiter within two weeks after the expo. Reflect on your results at the expo. What might you have done more effectively?
Finally (and perhaps most importantly!)…
- SMILE and BELIEVE in yourself!