About to dive into the job hunt and not sure where to begin? There’s some good news you should hear first.

Between now and 2020, job openings in accounting should increase; by 16% if you ask the Bureau of Labor Statistics. But don’t let statistics like this fool you into thinking that landing that coveted position will be a walk in the park. It takes preparation and planning to snag that ideal job so take some notes on our tips below and get practicing.

Stay educated

Taking courses in specialized, marketable areas can set you apart from the rest of the candidate pool. If you’re interested in a career in a certain specialty (like forensics, financial analysis, IT, management accounting, etc.), any industry-specific study you can get will give you additional credibility at the interview. And after you get a few years of work experience, the AICPA offers a variety of programs as well as five credentials & designations (more letters after your name = more clout) to help your resume catch Human Resources’ eye.  They include:

But those come later. For now…

Network

Learn from colleagues, professors and supervisors as well as every person you know. These professionals can offer valuable insights that you can apply to your own work. If you’re not sure where to begin, there are a slew of groups (like, ahem, the AICPA and your State Society) to boost your network. Keep in mind that most successful analysts are able to develop strong interpersonal relationships with both superiors and peers.

Read

Being aware of what’s happening — locally, nationally and globally — will take you far in life. (Watching an hour of “The Daily Show” and “The Colbert Report” or skimming over your Twitter feed a few times a day doesn’t count.) Take time every day to read articles about current events, start to finish. And if you haven’t already, get into the habit of staying on top of financial news from publications like “The Wall Street Journal,” “Journal of Accountancy” and “The Economist.” Reputable financial websites and newsletters are also good sources to help you sound like an intelligent, informed young business person at your next interview. 

Prepare

Many companies have shifted away from a typical interview to asking more behavioral questions. The questions are asked in a way to predict your future success based on your past performance. They can be harder to prepare for since they make you think critically, but if you take some time before the interview to reflect on your previous successes, you’ll feel at ease and have concrete examples when others will crack under the pressure. Think through specific situations, and consider: What have you accomplished? How did you accomplish it? What was the outcome? What might you have done differently? Of course, you’ll want to prepare for the traditional interview questions too, but don’t overlook the influence of behavioral questions on your ability to get the job.

Once you’re ready to try out your responses, practice your interview skills.

Now that you an expert interviewer, need help figuring out what types of jobs to interview for? Take this short quiz to Find Your Fit.