Guide to landing an accounting job during a pandemic


Guide to landing an accounting job during a pandemic

Landing a rewarding accounting job in the current climate may be easier said than done, especially if you’re an international student or graduate – but it’s not impossible. Putting your career on hold doesn’t have to be an option. As long as you’re prepared, there will be job opportunities and it is important to stay positive and proactive even in uncertain times. In this article, we will share seven valuable tips to take into consideration if you’re hoping to work and live in Australia and want to know how to improve your chances of making your dreams a reality.

#1 Get your foot in the door

The honest truth is that this pandemic is accompanied by an economic slowdown and many job openings have been put on hold or disappeared. As a result, you will probably do best by changing your approach to your job search. If your dream job isn’t advertised at the moment, or if you haven’t been successful in your job applications, you must essentially start to think outside the box. Sometimes giving a prospective employer a taste of your talents can be all you need to fast track your dream career, so you might have to consider a lower-level job or a job in another department of a company you’d like to work for. Do your best, make connections, and you could see your less-than-ideal job lead to more attractive job opportunities within the organisation in time. You should also keep a lookout for part-time and contract roles. Lastly, traineeships and internships should not be left out as an option as they are also great ways to get your foot in the door to showcase your potential. Once you’ve broken into the industry and started building up a portfolio of work experience, you will be able to negotiate better job and career opportunities.

#2 Show flexibility

Adaptability in workers is a soft skill that tends to be overlooked at times; this is not the case in today’s labour market. In fact, right now is the best time to think broadly, to be okay with changing plan A for B or C, to stay calm and focused when faced with ambiguity or disruption and to make good use of problem-solving skills. Emphasise your willingness to adapt the way you work to what’s required at the moment and be ready to help out with tasks that are normally outside the scope of a job role. Being the candidate who understands current concerns and the need to work around it will be rewarded.

On a personal level, it is also important to recognise that change is inevitable and should be embraced, as it is the challenges and the work we do outside our comfort zones that often leads to growth. Even prior to our current circumstances, change was a constant within both organisations and industries.  Organisations will take note of current and potential employees who embrace change and adapt to new circumstances with positivity.

#3 Ace virtual interviews

In this Covid-19 era of travel bans and social distancing, virtual interviews have become the new standard, so it is more important than ever to learn how you can promote your skills and suitability for a job through a screen. On a basic level, you should treat a virtual interview just like a face-to-face one, which entails arriving on time, being appropriately dressed and groomed, maintaining eye contact, being courteous and speaking clearly. Furthermore, you should set up your computer in a spot with a neutral backdrop, sufficient lighting, minimal background noise and a reliable internet connection.

The key to feeling and portraying confidence during an interview is preparation. Reflect on your past and practice some compelling answers to common interview questions, such as your personal background and motives, your work experience and academic background, technical skills and behaviourally based questions. As a rule of thumb, try to provide examples/scenarios in your answers where appropriate, and talk about outcomes. A recruiter will be far more impressed if you speak of your past responsibilities and achievements in terms of impact and results (how well you did something) and not just job duties or other past projects (what you did). It might feel strange, but you may want to practice in the mirror, record yourself, or even better, participate in a mock interview, which is one of the many services we offer our students in the QCT Mentor Programme.

Finally, don’t forget that hiring managers aren’t exclusively interested in your skills. In fact, they are much more likely to offer you the position if you seem genuinely enthusiastic about coming to work for them. This doesn’t necessarily mean that you have to come across as “bubbly”, but you should aim to express the reasons you’d be excited to work for them, whilst also considering your body language, posture and tone of voice, asking questions, referring to your passions and showing interest in the next steps of the hiring process.

“A recruiter will be far more impressed if you speak of your past responsibilities and achievements in terms of impact and results (how well you did something) and not just job duties or other past projects (what you did).”

#4 Make good use of downtime

Hands up if you’ve ever thought of doing something for your personal or professional development but disregarded it because you haven’t had the time? Well, for many, now is the time. Whether this downtime is a rare gift or time wasted is a choice you make, and of all the soft skills that can increase your employability, being proactive is one of the top ones that is considered a great show of character. The two best things you can do with your extra time that will benefit your future career are: 1. Upskill, 2. Gain experience.

Start by setting up some clear goals for yourself – identify your professional skills, strengths and weaknesses, compare them to the job description of your dream job, identify the gaps and create a plan. When it comes to upskilling, the sky is the limit. You can join a training program, take online courses, get certified, practice using software or putting other forgotten or infrequently used skills to the test. Doing something is always better than doing nothing.

As for experience, a mentorship programme, volunteering or an internship, even if it is just for a short amount of time, are all excellent ways to invest in your future. Especially if you are new to the Australian job market, you should consider all options to get familiar with local work practices, as it is highly valued by employers and hiring managers.

Did you know that a majority of jobs are filled via networking? If you think all hope is gone when you’re failing to get the jobs that are advertised in job ads, think again. First, consider your current network. Get the word out to the people who know you, like you, and trust you, including past employers, colleagues and connections on online professional networks such as LinkedIn, and let them know you’re on the market for new career opportunities. Even friends and family can prove to be very useful in your job search! If you’re participating in a mentor programme, you will also have plenty of existing indirect connections, as they will have an established client base that may help open doors straight to employers (contact QCT here to find out more).

Secondly, try to expand your network. Look for professional groups to join on Facebook and LinkedIn and don’t be afraid to join in the conversation, post and comment; but make sure you are adding value with your contributions. This targeted approach will help to increase your visibility to the appropriate people. The QCT Mentor Programme Facebook Group posts jobs and other important accounting industry updates and is open to join. You can also look to join various professional associations and industry bodies, such as CPA and CA, or send out emails to select people you wish to connect with. In these times, many networking events will be cancelled but there might be some virtual events you can seek out. Most universities offer this to their alumni so do check out what is on their event schedule. Remember, the internet is truly a resource of infinite opportunities.

#6 Pay Attention to the details
The world we live in is more digitally connected than ever, so if you decide to network or apply for jobs through online communities such as LinkedIn, you must do what you can to ensure the odds are in your favour. Make sure your online profile looks compelling and professional, is up to date and free from grammatical mistakes. There are plenty of ways you can make your profile stand out to a prospective employer, so put in the time and effort to make sure it is set up to work for you and not against you.

Your resume is quite likely also in need of some updates or refining. If you use a generic version to apply for lots of different roles, you might have the answer to why you’re not getting to the interview stage. Resumes should be tailored to the type of job you’re currently seeking, and also to Australian resume standards. Students in the QCT Mentor Programme are encouraged to have their resumes reviewed by our in house HR Specialist as well as join interview practice sessions.

We all know the importance of communication skills, but we often forget to reflect on how effective our own listening skills are. If you get to meet with a potential employer, pay attention and listen for what they actually value and want to discuss, repeat key words and make sure you’ve done your research about the company, the role and even the interviewer. Smiling and thanking for their time as you leave are also appreciated little ‘details’ that can make more difference than you think. Finally, when you go about your days, look out for signs of companies that might be looking to expand soon, pick up on trends in your industry, take note of friends who speak of their personal or professional connections and be kind to the people you meet as it might come back to you.

#7 Consider job and visa perks of rural australia

As a recent graduate or someone with little local Australian work experience, ensure you are being realistic about your job prospects. There may be more jobs in Australia’s vibrant cities, but there is also a lot more competition. Being open to relocate to rural parts of Australia instantly increases your pool of possible employers and could be exactly what you need to kickstart your career.

From a visa point of view, there are also advantages. Four professions are currently listed on the Skilled Occupations List that make you eligible for skilled migration visas: accountant (general), external auditor, management accountant and taxation accountant. As an example, the regional skilled work visa (subclass 491) lets visa holders live and work in regional areas, which basically covers any area excluding Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane, for up to five years, after having been nominated by the state. The regional employer-sponsored visa (subclass 494) offers the same visa length, plus the option of applying for permanent residency (PR) after three years working for your regional employer. Another perk is that if you have studied and graduated from an institute in a regional area, you can extend the two year post-study work visa (subclass 485) to three or four years if you continue to live and work in regional areas.

The good news is that accountants are needed at all times, even during an economic slowdown, and if you approach the job market right, and keep an open mind, there are plenty of opportunities to start a great career in the Australian accounting industry!

By Zofia Nordqvist, HR Consultant
Zofia is a consultant working with Quinlan Consulting Team and EQ People who helps participants of the Quinlan Consulting Mentor Programme equip themselves with skills and experience to land their dream job in accounting or finance.

Zofia can be contacted on

More information is available at

Get more info

Fill in your details below so we can send you more information on the programme

You will be receiving a few emails from Tom Quinlan which will provide you details on the Mentor Program. Please check your spam/junk folders. If you experience any problems with this form, click HERE to tell us about it..

keep in touch

You will be receiving a few emails from Tom Quinlan which will provide you details on the Mentor Program. Please check your spam/junk folders. If you experience any problems with this form, click HERE to tell us about it..

Do you have more questions?

Feel free to contact us directly on the number or email address provided. We want you to make the best decision for you career, and are happy to talk you through the programme.

Mentor Programme

Let’s make your dreams a reality