22 December 2017
As this year comes to a close, you may be thinking about what 2018 has in store for you and your career. For many, a new year means looking for new career opportunities that may present themselves. While you may be preparing for going on interviews and revamping your resume, there is one key area you won’t want to overlook; your professional references. “Many finance and accounting professionals make the mistake of treating references as a formality,” says Paul Herman, a Senior Managing Director within The Execu|Search Group’s Financial Services division. “You can do everything right in the interview, but if you wait until the last minute to secure references, you risk losing the position to another candidate who has taken the time to ensure their references have been properly prepared.” To ensure your professional references position you for success, consider these best practices from Paul: Be selective: It’s best to have at least two professional references for each role you apply to, and who you select can make all the difference. To put you on the right track, it’s perfectly acceptable for more entry-level candidates (0-2 years) to ask a college professor or an internship coordinator you had while you were at school. If you’re more seasoned though, it’s best to choose a colleague or someone who collaborated with you on a project, as well as someone who has worked in a supervisory role with you. In any case, all of these professional references should have a strong understanding of your skills and work process. It also couldn’t hurt to select someone from an industry-related organization, like Hedge Funds Care, who can speak about your personal attributes. These contacts may have an established connection with the prospective employer, which could ultimately work in your favor! Keep your options organized: As you brainstorm who you’d like to have as your professional references, draft a spreadsheet dedicated to the people who you would consider as references and think about what would make them a good resource for different types of roles. You may find that you have multiple people who you could choose, but may not be sure as to who your best bet is. To narrow this list down, go a bit further with your spreadsheet and create columns for who the person is, their current job title, how you know them, what kind of work you have done with or for them, and their contact information. From there, you can analyze who the best people for the task will be. Based on what position you are a candidate for, your professional references could change. When to reach out: As you begin to progress throughout the interview process, you may want to get a head start on reaching out to your professional references. While we don’t discourage being proactive, it’s a good idea to wait until you’ve gotten to at least the first interview for a role before you initially make contact with a reference. “The best time to reach out is once you get to the second round of interviews, since the discussion you have with your professional reference about the role will still be fresh in their head, and they’ll be ready to receive a call over the next couple of weeks,” Paul says. “It will also be a good time to gauge whether or not your desired reference will be on-hand once your potential employer calls. In the past, I’ve seen candidates miss out on opportunities because a hiring manager was unable to reach a reference in time.” Be transparent during the discussion: When you speak to your professional references, be sure to start the conversation by reminding them of who you are, how you worked together, and what you’ve been up to since you last spoke. Once you send them the job description, talk with them about the role and specifically ask them whether they feel comfortable being your reference. If they aren’t sure, it’s better to go with someone else who is better equipped to provide you with a positive reference. Should they agree to be your reference, talk to them about how this role fits in with your long-term goals and what you can bring to the company should they hire you. Most importantly, discuss what you want them to highlight once your prospective employer contacts them. “Your professional reference needs to be able to confidently discuss how your skills, experience, and personal attributes make you a fit for the position at hand,” explains Paul. “That’s why this conversation is key. It will help them anticipate what to say.”
22 December 2017
To spread some cheer this holiday season, the Women’s Network held a gift drive for FREE, a Long Island-based organization that serves patients with developmental disabilities. After fulfilling their wish list for 70 of their residents, we held a gift wrapping event in our New York City office. The following Friday, a few members of the Women’s Network personally delivered the presents to FREE, and the event was featured on News 12 Long Island. “Being able to meet some of the residents and watch them open their presents was an incredible experience,” says Melanie Marshak, a member of The Women’s Network committee who helped organize the gift drive. “Everyone was thrilled to have received what they had asked for and loved reading the personal notes in their cards.”
22 December 2017
With 2018 finally upon us, many professionals may use this time as an opportunity to think about the skills they’d like to improve upon. On the other hand, some might prefer to focus their efforts on outlining a plan for finding a new job. Throughout the accounting industry, this is a decision that many professionals will have to consider as they begin the new year. This is especially true if you want to take advantage of a hot job market for internal auditors. Laura Gutierrez, a Senior Director of The Execu|Search Group’s Accounting & Finance division, has seen firsthand a general uptick in the number of employers looking to hire additional internal auditors. “The employment market is expected to continue thriving through Q1, and as a result, employers will continue to aggressively hire,” notes Laura. “Competition will be very steep for even the most qualified of candidates, so it’s important that internal auditors or public accountants looking to make the transition do their due diligence in early 2018 to position themselves as top candidates.” Hiring outlook There is increased demand to hire internal auditors at all experience levels: Analysts Directors AVPs VPs In addition, employers are looking to hire internal auditors from a number of specialty areas including: AML CCAR Compliance Global Markets Liquidity Risk Regulatory Reporting What you need to do “In order to position yourself for success, emphasize the technical skills that you have attained within your area of specialization,” recommends Laura. “In order to demonstrate your ability to make a strong contribution, it’s important to proactively pursue projects that will provide you with the hands-on experience you need to build marketable skillsets to position yourself for one of these new roles.” For public accountants that are hesitant to go through another busy season, making a move into internal audit can be what you need to take your career to the next level in 2018. “Prospective employers aren’t only looking for strong technical skills, but they are also looking for candidates that possess the right soft skills to positively contribute to the organization’s goals,” says Laura. For example, your communications skills, ability to multi-task, and organizational skills are a number of soft skills you want to emphasize throughout the interview process. “The technical skills and experience that you list on your resume will get you an interview, but the soft skills that make you a good personality fit for the role and the organization will get you the job,” notes Laura. “This is especially true if you’re looking to make the leap from public accounting to internal audit.” If you’re looking to make a career change in 2018 as an internal auditor or public accountant, now is the time to position yourself for success. From preparing cover letters, updating your resume, to networking with past connections, there are a lot of steps you must take before starting your job search. As a result, there is no time to like the first quarter to start preparing for this hiring surge.
14 December 2017
Our International Healthcare team recently held a holiday potluck to celebrate a year of hard work! To help our community of sponsored employees get to know each other a little better, attendees were encouraged to bring a dish from each of their cultures. “We’re here to make the transition to a new country as easy as possible for our employees,” says Bridgette Jewell, Senior Director of The Execu|Search Group’s International Healthcare division. “In addition to connecting them with job opportunities in the U.S., this involves creating a supportive community for them to be a part of. Having get-togethers like this gives all of us the perfect opportunity to unwind from our day-to-day responsibilities and connect with each other on a more personal level.” Learn more about our International Healthcare opportunities, here: http://healthcare.execu-search.com/job-seekers/international-healthcare
13 December 2017
Whether you’ve already secured a full-time position with an employer, or are gearing up for your first job search as a new grad, you’ll still have a lot of learning left to do. Once your career takes off, there’s no doubt that you will pick up industry-specific skills. However, the type of soft skills you develop will play a major role in your long-term employability. To ensure you hit the ground running on day one, here’s a breakdown of the top 5 soft skills you should focus on throughout your professional career: Strong communication skills While communication may seem like the most obvious skill to possess, many employers perceive it to be the most lacking soft skill among recent graduates. Since communication skills can encompass so much, it can be difficult to identify which aspects to emphasize on the job. From day one of your new job, everything from your handshake to your ability to answer questions articulately will make for a good first impression. Similarly, written communication is just as important. For example, knowing the difference between certain homonyms (i.e., they’re, their, and there), responding to emails appropriately, and being personable with colleagues can all go a long way in establishing yourself as a good communicator. Problem solving/analytical skills While every new job will come with a learning curve, prospective employers want to know you can address problems as they arise. Therefore, your problem solving and analytical soft skills are important to perfect. For example, employers may expect you to develop workable solutions to challenges as well as exercise creativity in coming up with new ways to solve old problems. At the end of the day, employers want to feel confident that members on their team can handle issues on their own and can think through solutions in a proactive manner. Attention to detail If your emails contain misspellings, typos, or punctuation errors, this will immediately raise red flags about your attention to detail—a soft skill an increasing number of employers seek in new hires. In addition to proofreading your emails and work, other ways to ensure strong attention to detail includes: asking the right questions throughout meetings, completing projects by outlined deadlines, and attaching all necessary attachments and information in your emails. In contrast, making repeated mistakes or failing to follow directions carefully may put your job at risk. Team player Employers aren’t simply looking for someone who has the right technical skills needed to do the job; they also want employees who are the right cultural fit for the team and organization. In some cases, this may speak to your ability to work well in a team environment. For example, you may need to collaborate with different team members or take constructive feedback on projects. The easier you are to work with as a team member, the more opportunities you may have to work on different types of projects. Leadership The ability to lead is a soft skill that employers are looking for in all of their candidates, especially their younger employees. As more baby boomers retire, companies are placing a greater emphasis on their succession planning efforts and preparing younger employees for future leadership roles. As a result, you don’t necessarily need to be in a managerial role to show that you have leadership potential. For example, being able to evaluate the work that needs to get done and take on these tasks without being told is one way to take ownership of your role.
12 December 2017
If you’ve had quite a bit of experience with going on interviews, you know that each interviewer has their own way of approaching an interview. Whether that approach is more friendly or more straight-forward, it’s important to remember that being able to adapt to multiple types of interviewers will be key to your success. During the interview, your primary focus should be on selling yourself as the best person for the job. However, it’s also important to recognize that the persona your interviewer adopts may have implications for what they’re specifically looking for in their next hire. If you’re able to recognize this, there’s a very good chance that you’ll be able to charm your way into your next job opportunity! If you’re unsure of the types of interviewers and what they’re looking for, here are four common personas you may run into: The no-nonsense interviewer One of the most common types of interviewers you’ll come across is the serious, straight-laced one. You may find this interviewer to be intimidating, but this straight-forwardness can play in your favor. For this type of interviewer, advanced preparation is key. While you don’t want to come off as a robot, knowing your resume inside and out and how your skills relate to the job at hand is what is going to leave a lasting impression. The best friend The “best friend” will typically be conversational and chatty, which can make the meeting seem more like a meeting over coffee than an interview. However, don’t think there isn’t a reason for this approach. If you come across this type of interviewer, chances are they prioritize how you’ll fit in with their team and overall company culture. If you believe this to be the case, don’t be afraid to stray somewhat off topic from the role you’re interviewing for. This interviewer knows what skills you bring to the table based on your resume, but showing them that you can get along with their team is what might ultimately win them over. The comedian Have you ever been caught by surprise by an interviewer that makes jokes or light-hearted sarcastic remarks throughout the interview? While might seem off-putting, this type of interviewer might be doing this to measure your interpersonal and reactionary skills. For some managers, having an employee who can maintain their cool in social settings is invaluable. If you find yourself in this type of situation, focus on maintaining your composure and letting your personality shine through. The disinterested interviewer Most professionals have a horror story about an interviewer who came off as apathetic and disinterested during an interview. While it is disheartening to come across an interviewer like this, don’t immediately think you don’t have a shot at landing the position. If you find yourself with this type of interviewer, engage them by asking questions that pertain to the position, the interviewer’s expectations, and the team you would be on. It may take some extra effort on your end, but being inquisitive and demonstrating your interest in the position may get the interviewer to see you as more than just a slot in their daily schedule. However, if you are really getting a negative vibe, this might be a sign that the position is not right for you. The hybrid While you may come across an interview who firmly identifies with one specific personality type, there’s a very good chance you’re going to come across an interviewer who’s a mix of the personalities listed above. When you find yourself in this type of interview situation, you’ll want to demonstrate that you can naturally adjust to these different interview techniques with ease. This can help prove that you can work well with various personality types, which is something that can set you apart from your competition.
08 December 2017
Giving back to the community has always been a part of who we are as a company. From fundraisers to volunteer events, we combine our efforts as an organization to make a difference where it matters most. To make this year’s holiday season a little brighter for those in need, our offices worked together to support a variety of charitable initiatives throughout the month. The Women’s Network kicked off the holiday season off with a gift drive for FREE, a Long Island-based organization that serves patients with developmental disabilities. After fulfilling their wish list for 70 of their residents, we held a gift wrapping event in our New York City office. During this event, participants also wrote cards for children who will be hospitalized during the holiday season. We also participated in a toy drive spearheaded by Shelly Landau McCann, a Senior Director within our Healthcare division. Partnering with The Floating Hospital, we donated toys for children living in homeless shelters. These gifts will be featured in the hospital’s Candy Cane Lane event, which gives their homeless patients the opportunity to choose quality gifts for their families with a personal shopper. Last, but certainly not least, The Execu|Search Group will be holding our annual “ugly sweater” contest to benefit Toys for Tots. In exchange of a donation, employees will be able to show off their ugliest holiday sweaters. We can’t wait to see who tops last year’s winners!
08 December 2017
With the end of 2017 upon us, it will soon be that time of year again. From January to April, many public accountants will work longer hours and extra days to make their way through the excess work typical of tax season. For some, this could mean putting in 70+ hour work weeks without much reprieve over the weekends. It’s easy to burn out with this kind of schedule, but the work and your deadlines will still be there in the end. So how can you power through the next few months, while managing your stress and maximizing your productivity? We’ve got you covered with this ultimate guide to surviving busy season: Prepare yourself: Working longer days and weeks can be mentally and physically demanding. To get yourself in the right mindset for surviving busy season, you first must accept that this is simply a part of what you do. Knowing that you will need to work a lot of overtime, don’t wait until the last minute to start putting in the time. Instead, start gradually increasing your hours as the work comes in. This will help ensure you’re simultaneously staying on top of your responsibilities and preparing yourself for the schedule change. Eat well: While the last thing you may want to do when you’re plugging away till midnight is eat a balanced meal, it’s important to stay healthy during busy season. Try prepping some healthy meals ahead of time that you can store in the freezer and microwave as needed, and keep snacks in your drawer at work that you can turn to in a pinch. Remember, the right fuel will help you stay energized and focused. Take breaks: Although it may be difficult to find times to relax throughout the day, taking care of yourself is key to surviving busy season. This means making the effort to step away from your work (and the computer) for a little bit. Whether this involves taking a 15-minute walk around the block, hitting the gym, or reading a book, make sure you choose something that you’d normally enjoy doing. Getting out of the office and clearing your head will help you work more efficiently and mitigate some stress. Have something to look forward to: When you’re in the middle of busy season, it can be difficult to see past your deadlines and all the work that needs to get done. That’s why having something to look forward to at the end of busy season can be just the motivator you need to keep yourself going. Rewarding yourself with a trip to the beach or a “staycation” with family, for instance, will not only help you unwind after such a stressful time, but also see the light at the end of the tunnel. There are many rewards to pulling through a successful busy season, no matter how exhausting it can be. Showing good faith and strong work ethic during such stressful times can create the potential for a better reputation with your firm, which can lead to increased compensation and career growth. When the going gets tough, remember that you have this survival guide by your side.
04 December 2017
Whether it’s your first job or you’re a seasoned pro, being the new employee on a team can be a little nerve-wracking. From remembering names to getting trained on new software, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed by everything you need to learn. While you may not have a ton of confidence when you first start, remember, everyone has felt like the new kid on the block at some point in their career. To navigate the ins and outs of a new role (and build your confidence), add these 4 steps to your checklist: Kick bad comparison habits When you start a new job, it can be easy to fall into the trap of comparing yourself to everyone around you. If you catch yourself doing this early in your new job, remind yourself that you were brought on your team because you bring something new and of value to the table, such as a particular skill set or past experience. Admiring a colleague is fine, but don’t obsess over the things they have and you think you don’t. Everyone has different skill sets. Don’t bite off more than you can chew If you’re a new employee, it may be tempting to volunteer for everything that comes your way. However, taking on too many responsibilities in an effort to impress your supervisor and your colleagues can do more harm than good. Remember, you’re still learning the ins and outs of your role! Biting off more than you can chew may lead you to feel overwhelmed, so try to focus primarily on what your supervisor asks of you. As you begin to feel better adjusted in the role, volunteer to help with small, but meaningful, projects. Being able to help your colleagues outside of your set responsibilities is a great way to gain confidence, but do this only when it makes the most sense for you. Set attainable benchmarks for yourself While you want to give yourself time to adjust, you also want to outline what you have to accomplish during your first few months on the job. As you’re getting started, map out your goals and give yourself a realistic timeline for accomplishing them. Completing a specific project or reaching a broader goal can help track your progress and can also help you feel more confident and reassured in your new position. Don’t be afraid to speak up! As a new employee, it’s perfectly normal to want to maintain a low profile at first. However, speaking up during team meetings or other professional settings is a great way to become more comfortable in a new role! While it’s just as important to listen and observe your new teammates, you may find that being part of the discussion will help you grow in confidence as you get started in your new role!