Entry-Level Accounting Jobs for Recent College Grads

Entry-Level Accounting Jobs for Recent College GradsIf you’re a recent college graduate with a 4-year accounting degree, current job prospects are brighter for you than many other college grads. In fact, accountant and auditor jobs recently ranked No. 4 on UC San Diego’s HOT Careers list. This report looked at which positions college grads would have the best chance at securing without needing additional education.1

Entry-level accounting jobs and internships come in a wide variety of shapes and sizes, or should we say industries and job titles. If you are ready start your job search, but aren’t sure which type of accounting position to pursue, here’s a breakdown of some of the top jobs available for recent grads with 4-year accounting degrees.

Accountant Jobs

You graduated with an accounting degree, so a job as an accountant is pretty obvious, right? Consider looking for a job as an in-house accountant, or put your accounting skills to work for your city, state or federal government.2 Accountant positions typically fall into one of the following categories:

Generalist. If you would like the opportunity to perform a wide range of accounting tasks, look for a general accounting job. These positions come with variety and may give you the responsibility of managing other accounting staff.

Specialist. If you prefer to focus on a specific area of accounting, consider seeking out work as a specialist such as a cost accountant, tax accountant or auditor.

General Ledger. If you see yourself managing a corporation’s general ledger, preparing financial reports and overseeing the work of accounts-payable and accounts-receivable clerks, then look for work as a general ledger accountant. This position might also be referred to as a chief accountant, accounting manager, corporate controller or corporate accountant.

CPA (certified public accountant) Jobs

If you live and breathe accounting and want to work for a company that specializes in your field, consider becoming a CPA, and apply for work at a CPA firm. Or if you want to obtain a more advanced accounting position for a private corporation or the government, a CPA license might give you the leverage you need.

In order to be certified as a CPA, you will need to pass the CPA exam and work in the field for a minimum period of time, as determined by the state where you live. Many CPA firms will hire new accounting grads for entry-level CPA positions, even without a license. However, the new hire must currently be studying for his or her certification or start the process once they are on the job.

CPAs can find work in a variety of capacities and specialty areas – whether at a CPA firm, private company or government agency. According to the American Institute for Certified Public Accountants (AICPA), CPAs can support businesses in a number of ways:

- Assurance Services

- Consulting Services

- Information Technology Services

- Forensic Accounting

- Environmental Accounting

- International Accounting

- Tax and Financial Planning3

If you hope to advance your career in accounting, obtaining your CPA license can help give you an edge over the competition.

Financial Analyst Jobs

While you may need a finance degree (and an MBA) to secure a financial analyst position at one of the top finance firms, private corporations in industries such as manufacturing, e-commerce, health care, utilities and others often hire recent accounting graduates for financial analyst positions.

Entry-level financial analyst jobs don’t require prior experience, but you can expect to work a lot of hours. The median income for a financial analyst comes in at about $75,000 per year, which makes these positions highly desirable and helps take the sting out of the long hours.

If you are a strong researcher, who excels at creating detailed financial reports and can make sense of large volumes of data, a financial analyst position might be right for you.

Recent college grads with 4-year accounting degrees have an abundance of career options to choose from today. If you’re looking for the best entry-level accounting and finance jobs, visit the Doostang website, and start searching for accounting jobs and finance careers now. We specialize in helping recent accounting and finance graduates get hired.

Photo Source: Shutterstock

Sources:

1. DeVries, H., MBA; Baru, S, Ph.D.; Shapiro, J., Ph.D. “HOT Careers for College Grads and Returning Students 2014,” (special report). 2013. UC San Diego Extension. Available at http://extension.ucsd.edu/about/index.cfm?vAction=reports. Accessed Nov. 18, 2013.

2. Cohn, M. “Top Entry-Level Accounting and Finance Jobs.” Accounting Today website; May 29, 2013. Available at http://www.accountingtoday.com/news/Top-Entry-Level-Accounting-Finance-Jobs-62796-1.html. Accessed Nov. 18, 2013.

3. “What Does a CPA Do?” Pennsylvania Institute for Certified Public Accountants website. Available at http://www.picpa.org/content/38406.aspx. Accessed Nov. 18, 2013.

4. “Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2012-13 Edition, Financial Analysts.” Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor. Available at http://www.bls.gov/ooh/business-and-financial/financial-analysts.htm. Accessed Nov. 18, 2013.

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Top Interview Questions to Expect for Financial Analyst Jobs, Part 3 of 3

Top Interview Questions to Expect for Financial Analyst Jobs, Part 3 of 3

Question Category: Technical Competence

This is the third in a series of posts about how to best answer interview questions for financial analyst jobs, based on question categories: Education and Work Experience; Goals and Company Knowledge; and Technical Competence.

In the first two posts of this series, we discussed financial analyst interview questions you should expect to tackle in the categories of Education and Work Experience (part one) and Goals and Company Knowledge (part two). To wrap up the series, we will conclude with the category of Technical Competence.

As we mentioned in the earlier posts, interview preparation is key if you want to stand out as the best candidate for the job and advance your finance career. A seasoned interviewer will notice immediately if you are not prepared. Whether you are applying for an entry-level finance position or have a few years of work experience under you belt, do your homework.

Here are some of the questions regarding technical competence that you could face during your interview, along with some tips on how to approach them.

Technical Competence Questions

The interviewer will ask specific questions pertaining to finance terms, methodologies and your industry knowledge. Further, he or she will want to hear how your past experience (work experience, course work, industry involvement, etc.) has prepared you for the job duties at hand and which tools you have used. Some potential questions may include:

General Finance Questions

- What is EBITDA and how does it figure into revenues?

- What is a DCF analysis and can you walk me through how it works?

- What is EVA and in what scenarios would you use it?

- How do you define cash flow?

- What steps would you take to determine a company’s cash flow?

- When would you use a ratio analysis?

- How would you define present value analysis?

- What is a capital market and how does the concept apply to our clientele?

- What methods would you use to value a company?

- Can you explain in which scenarios you would use marginal costing, standard costing and activity-based costing?

- Which profitability models do you find the most accurate for forecasting?

- What impact can accounts receivable and inventory levels have on an income statement?

Questions Regarding Your Experience

- What quantitative coursework did you complete in college?

- Can you describe in detail a case study you completed in school, how you approached it and how the results would inform how you would approach this job?

- What software programs have you used for financial analysis?

- What types of charts and reports are you comfortable creating?

- Can you share a scenario (course work or real) where a company’s credit risk figured prominently into a financial analysis you performed?

- What stocks do you follow and why?

- Can you explain a financial analysis recommendation that you later regretted and what you learned from the experience?

- On a scale from one to 10, how would you rate your technical writing ability?

The interviewer is trying to: find out if you are well-versed in key financial terms and methodologies; learn how much experience you have making financial analysis decisions based on quantifiable tools and theories; get a grasp on how you approach a project; and determine how capable you are at formulating a recommendation based on the data and intelligence you uncover.

Prepare yourself for this series of questions by doing a thorough review of your past course work, case studies and job experience – essentially take a walk down memory lane. Refresh your knowledge of the different skills and methodologies you used, and think about how they would apply to the type of financial recommendations you would need to make if this specific company hired you.

The job description will help you focus in on the areas of expertise that the interviewer is hoping to find in a candidate, so review it closely and be prepared to address how you can excel at handling the specific duties and objectives listed.

There is no doubt that you will encounter a number of questions in your financial analyst interview that we didn’t cover in this series of posts. As we’ve said throughout, if you take the time in preparing for an interview and research the top companies on your list, you can increase your odds of standing out in this competitive job market.

Doostang strives to offer helpful insight here on our blog and offers a number of other great tools for recent finance grads and MBAs. Visit our website to learn more and search for the top financial analyst jobs, today.

Photo source: Shutterstock:

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Top Interview Questions to Expect for Financial Analyst Jobs, Part 2 of 3

Top Interview Questions to Expect for Financial Analyst Jobs, Part 2 of 3

Question Categories: Goals and Company Knowledge

This is the second in a series of posts about how to best answer interview questions for financial analyst jobs, based on question categories: Education and Work Experience; Goals and Company Knowledge; and Technical Competence.

In the first post of this series we discussed how to answer financial analyst interview questions based on the categories Education and Work Experience. As with the first post, we’ll share some of the questions you might expect in the categories of Goals and Company Knowledge, along some tips on how to approach the answers so you make a great impression.

As we mentioned last time, if you want to make it past the first interview, you must take time in preparing for an interview and practice answering frequently asked interview questions. The more you practice, the more comfortable and confident you will feel. So do the prep work and practice hard if you want to stand out.

Interview Questions to Expect by Category

Here are some of the questions you will likely be asked during your interview, along with some tips on how to approach questions about your goals and your company knowledge.

Goal Questions

The interviewer will ask questions about your finance career goals as they pertain to the financial analyst position you are trying to secure, as well as your goals for the future. Some potential questions may include:

- What are your short- and long-term goals in this financial analyst position?

- Where do you hope your finance career takes you in the next five years?

- How much money do you expect to earn in the next five years and 10 years?

- How can your personal career goals help our company achieve its goals?

The interviewer is trying to determine if you are a good fit for their organization based on where you are today and where you intend to be five and 10 years from now. The type of work you hope to do as well as the amount of money you hope to earn should align with what the position in question allows. He or she is also trying to learn how much you know about the company’s goals (more about this in the next section) and if your experience and desire will benefit the company.

Prepare yourself for this series of questions by researching the roles of the financial analysts who currently work at the company. Try to speak with someone who works at the organization and has an understanding of the financial analyst roles, goals and responsibilities to gain some insight. Otherwise review the job description closely, and tailor your answers to align with the duties outlined there.

You can also review the profiles of financial analysts who work at the firm (now or in the past) on LinkedIn to see if there are any consistencies across backgrounds and experience, and highlight any of those qualities that you also offer. Earnings information is pretty easily found online or through word of mouth.

Company Knowledge Questions

The interviewer will ask you questions that are specific to the company to which you are applying. Topics can range from specific stats and history to how your background aligns with the organization’s goals. Some potential questions may include:

- Why did you apply for a position with this organization?

- Why would you like to work for us?

- Can you tell me what you know about our company?

- What qualities do you have that make you a better hire for our company than your competition?

- What experience or knowledge do you bring to the table that will help our company improve or grow?

- What challenges do you expect to experience in this company’s financial analyst role?

The interviewer is trying to find out if you did your homework and took the time to research their organization. They are looking for people who will be passionate not only about the finance industry but the firm in particular. If you don’t show any specific knowledge about the company, its history, goals and challenges, the interviewer will likely write you off. And if you can’t show how you can contribute to the organization’s bottom line, consider that another strike against you.

Prepare for this series of questions by doing some good, solid research about the company and try to answer each of the aforementioned questions specifically. Read the company website from top to bottom, and look for the latest news about the organization and its key players online. Again, arranging to talk with people who work with the firm can really give you an edge. Do your homework.

You can read part one of the series here. Next up? We will address questions about your Technical Competence.

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