Do you want to be an accountant? Or are you one already, and now your priority is to move your career forward? It’s a good time to have a career in finance, as there are lots of opportunities.
The demand for workers with skills in financial planning, reporting, and accountancy has been going up. Research shows Canada will have 79,600 job openings for financial auditors and accountants from 2019 to 2028.
You’ll face tough competition when applying for these jobs, depending on the job type. But the good news is this competition won’t come from technology. It’s been reported new technology will provide more jobs than it takes away, helping ensure the future of accounting stays secure. Your future career could start sooner than you think.
In this article, we’re going to give you the rundown on where to look for bookkeeping and accounting jobs, what you should think about when you apply for bookkeeping and accounting jobs, how to approach job interviews, and how to negotiate your new salary or rate.
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Where to Look For Accounting Jobs in Canada
If you’re looking for a fresh start in accounting, we’ve got good news for you. Outside of Google search results, there are several platforms online where you can find all sorts of finance, bookkeeping, and accounting jobs:
- Job boards
- Social media
- Big accounting firms
- Small accounting firms
With that said, you should be aware each platform has its own pros and cons.
After uploading your resume to a job board like Indeed or Robert Half, you can sit back, relax, and let your talent shine. When a recruiter notices your resume and profile, they’ll contact you on behalf of the business they’re recruiting for. Or you can take a more proactive role by searching for accounting jobs based on your salary expectations, preferred start date, and other criteria. Sign up for a job alert or two to hear when new roles become available.
Anyone can see the information on your resume once it’s online. The drawback to this is someone can contact you with a promising email or phone call about jobs that may or may not be accounting jobs, and never contact you again afterward. This can be a recurring annoyance. You might not get as many inquiries as you want, depending on your level of experience and qualifications.
General Job Boards
Accounting and Finance Job Boards
You can try searching for accounting jobs using your LinkedIn profile. The platform features a job board, and finance professionals can create posts about the kind of candidates they’re looking for. You can personalize your job recommendations and recent searches are automatically saved for you. You can also set up a job alert for a specific job title or keywords in a specific location, and even filter by other things such as permanent, contract, or part-time positions.
Not every listing you see will be up-to-date. It’s not unusual to see accounting jobs that sound good but were actually posted months ago. By the time you see it, a position could have been filled. Or, roles can get taken down quickly after the hiring manager becomes overwhelmed by applications. So, if you see accounting jobs that you like, apply for them as soon as possible.
Big Accounting Firms in Canada
The accounting “big 4” are Deloitte, Ernst & Young, KPMG, and PwC. Thousands of people work for them all over the world, including in Canada. Getting one of these names on your resume will look impressive. However, you need to be prepared to work hard.
In a large accounting firm, it’s likely you’ll meet many people with similar responsibilities to you. It won’t be hard to find common ground, which helps make the busy times a little easier to put up with.
The employee benefits program in a big company can be enticing. This might include employee discounts or medical coverage. Before applying for accounting jobs at these companies, consider what kind of benefits you want and how much these matter to you.
One big benefit is that accounting professionals also say they’re happy with the training available in big companies.
You may find yourself working long hours and over weekends during tax season and other key filing deadlines. Accountants don’t particularly enjoy this part of their role.
Some also say progression routes aren’t always obvious, but this varies from firm to firm. Accountants don’t want to have to wait a fixed amount of time before applying for a promotion or being promoted. Like most other professions, they want to be recognized for doing good work.
Being understaffed is also a problem at big accounting firms. When mishandled, employee morale can be damaged and burnout can happen.
Big Accounting Firm Examples
Small Accounting Firms in Canada
In a small accounting firm, you’ll be part of a close-knit finance team. You’ll speak with the same colleagues and clients regularly, and have the chance to form tighter bonds with everyone. Your relationships will have a big part in determining your job satisfaction.
You may find yourself working closely with clients, and it’ll be easier to see the impact your actions have on their businesses. In a big firm, this isn’t always the case, and you might never speak to a client about their projects.
Scheduling your work around your life might also be easier. Smaller firms might be open to more flexibility when it comes to working hours. If you’re doing the work that needs to be done, there shouldn’t be a problem.
Where big firms have multiple shareholders with potentially conflicting views on “success,” you can find your work being pulled in all sorts of directions. At a small firm, your boss is also likely to be the owner. As the only person you need to please—for the most part—you can actually build a bond and learn from them, and with people at all levels of the company.
Despite having a specific job title, you may find yourself taking on responsibilities of another job type from time to time that you might not have expected. This can make the path to promotion a little unclear. But you’ll have the chance to learn new accounting skills you may not have learned otherwise, some of which you wouldn’t have expected to be valuable.
Since you’ll be speaking to the same clients and colleagues often, it’s important to have good relationships with them. If you have a difficult client or colleague, your firm may be too small to avoid them, and your work environment might be challenging as a result.
A small firm may not have the same resources and systems at its disposal as the bigger accounting companies. Tasks like project tracking and sharing work may take longer as a result of this. And the work might be more straightforward, including tasks like filing accounting records for individuals and small businesses. Ask yourself if this kind of work will keep you satisfied.
Small Accounting Firm Examples
What to Think About When Job-Hunting in Canada
Focus on What You Want
What do you want from your new job? Before sending any applications, think about this:
- Where you want to be 5 or 10 years from now
- The parts of accounting you enjoy the most
- How important work-life balance is to you
- If the salaries on offer match your worth
Being clear on this will help you ignore any jobs that won’t help you with your goals. You can go straight for the roles that matter.
Whether you network in person or online, you’ll meet people who may know of accounting and finance job openings. So tell people what you’re looking for, and they may agree to keep their eyes open for you. As a courtesy, you should offer to do the same thing in return. Add any relevant networking events you hear about to your personal schedule.
Take a look at your social media accounts, and update these with any new information. This might include new skills you’ve developed or qualifications you’ve achieved.
Write about your experiences and share these on social media as well. You never know who might be watching. A hiring manager may contact you about a role they’re looking to fill.
Plan Your Job Search
If you’re busy with your current job, planning your job search can help you stay on track in your search for a new accounting role. Try spending an hour or two after work or on weekends looking for financial roles.
You should also consider checking your resume and adding any new achievements to this. This might include qualifications, or your ability to use accounting software such as FreshBooks.
Going Freelance With Accounting
There are lots of reasons why people choose freelance accounting jobs. Being in charge of your own freelance accounting business has its benefits. You can select hours that suit your work-life balance, and consider which kind of projects you want to take on with more autonomy.
But before you set up a freelance accounting business, there are a few actions you need to take.
Tell the Government You’re Self-Employed
You may need to inform the government you’ll be running your own business and pick a business structure. Here are the most common types:
These structures have their own perks and drawbacks. Investigate each of them thoroughly, as one structure may be better than the rest depending on your circumstances.
Take Out Professional Liability Insurance
Nobody can be perfect all the time. Professional liability insurance will help you protect yourself from claims of negligence.
Other Important Things to Note
Most customers will expect you to have a CPA designation. Use it to show you have good accounting knowledge and skills, like creating financial reports and preparing taxes.
To promote your freelance business, consider building a website and reviewing it regularly. Who you are and how you work may change over the years, and it’s important your website reflects this. Ask your clients for up-to-date testimonials and case studies, too.
Try having an active presence on social media. Reach out to the people you want to work with, along with other accountants. You may find they’re willing to pass on projects they don’t have time for or aren’t the right fit for them.
Think about earning new qualifications and offering more services. These actions will help you to help clients in new ways, and increase your earnings. You can connect with small business owners and learn new skills with the FreshBooks Accounting Partner Program.
Preparation of Your Resume
Here’s a useful accounting resume template from Monster. And here’s an overview of what you might want to talk about on yours.
Education and training. Not every recruiter will be willing to read through pages and pages to find your education history. So show this early. Make the grades you’ve achieved easy to understand, and stress any particularly relevant topics you’ve studied.
Certifications and licences. If these are shortened with acronyms, type out their full meaning before referring to them in this way. The hiring manager reading your accounting resume may not know what all of these are short for. Remember to include the date you were awarded the licences and the date they expire, so your certificates appear current.
Experience. Show your current and previous positions, with details of your responsibilities, strengths, and skills. Tailor these with each application you send, to maximize their relevance to each company you want to work for.
Skills. Much like your experience, you’ll want to tailor your skills to each accounting or finance job you submit an application for. Your prospective employers need to understand how you can contribute to their company.
Hobbies. This isn’t an essential inclusion. But depending on which role you’re sending in your resume for, you may want to mention your hobbies to show off your personality. But this can be subjective. A safe bet is to only include hobbies that will support your application. If you don’t have any relevant hobbies, think about leaving this section out.
Applying for Accounting Jobs
During your accounting job interviews, you’ll likely be asked what your strengths are. So be prepared to answer these questions by telling the interviewer your best qualities, and the times you’ve used these.
If you have an accounting specialty, try focusing on this. Speak to other accountants and finance professionals who also specialize in this area, as they may be able to help you with how best to speak about your enthusiasm for this.
You need to show confidence and respect during a video call, so be well-dressed and well-rested for your interview. And be on time.
Learn as much as you can about the company before being interviewed, and have questions ready for them. An interview works both ways. It’s an opportunity for you to learn more about them as well. If you discover working with them might not help you achieve your career goals, it might be best to try applying somewhere else.
Agreeing on Your Salary
A company has made you an offer for an accounting job. Well done! Don’t sign any papers just yet—you need to know you’re going to be paid a fair price.
So, how much money should you expect to make? According to Indeed, a typical starting accountant’s salary is $56,378. There are a lot of variables involved in a starting salary and depending on your experience you might warrant more or less.
Working in Canada also presents the option (sometimes) to work in both French and English. If you are bilingual, you have an advantage and can definitely leverage it when applying for accounting jobs in Canada.
If the firm offers you a lower salary than you were expecting, be ready to ask why they’re doing this. If you feel this doesn’t reflect your level of expertise, try reaching a compromise with them. This might be reduced working hours, but try working towards competitive pay.
You should also ask your new employer what their process is for raises. Ask them how often they review salaries. You need to know there’s room to grow.
Accountants have a good future ahead of them in Canada, and the present isn’t so bad. If it’s freelance, full-time, or temporary work you’re after, there are lots of opportunities for accountants and other financial professionals to thrive. So sign up for job alerts in your local area, get your resume on a job board, and start networking. Someone can’t wait to hire you as their finance expert.