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Distinguishing yourself in a tough economic environment

Tips to standing out (in a good way)

Today’s hiring environment? Tough, may be an understatement. However, the fact remains that there are still a great deal of employment opportunities available to highly qualified candidates. The exciting news is that as a student pursuing a degree in accounting, you are well on your way to fitting into that category of desirable candidates. More than 90% of the accounting firms that participated in the 2015 AICPA Trends Report forecasted equal or greater hiring in 2015 and actual hiring has increased by 7% since 2012. The key to scoring that first job out of school is finding a way to stand out from the crowd. Here are some tips that, if implemented correctly, will help you better distinguish yourself and launch you into an outstanding career in accounting.

Leverage your resume

The resume is an opportunity to highlight what sets you apart from other candidates. The eye-catching items require a little bit of creativity, but try to incorporate unique knowledge and experiences into your resume. Of course, take caution to ensure that these experiences are relevant, truthful, and ultimately add value.

If you are able, customize your resume to each specific job listing. Making tweaks to your resume to highlight more relevant knowledge and experience for a particular job description might just put you on the top of the prospective candidate list.

The ‘volunteer & leadership experiences’ or the ‘honors & rewards’ section of your resume is another good place to make quality additions.


One of the very best ways to jump ahead of the pack is to build a reliable network of individuals who can vouch for your character and the quality of your work. Attending networking functions and exchanging contact information can be a great first step. However, that’s only the beginning. You can build much stronger relationships within your network by giving contacts a chance to gain first-hand knowledge of your character. One of the best ways to do this is to get involved and make contributions. Fully entrench yourself in opportunities that offer you the chance to create, manage, and maintain valuable relationships.

Getting involved with your local state society of CPAs, your school’s department of accountancy, and other volunteer/student groups is also an excellent strategy.

Practice the soft skills

A vital part of cultivating a valuable network is making sure that you pay close attention to developing strong people skills. Remember, you only get one chance to make a great first impression, and here, every little detail counts. Simply put, always carry yourself with a respectable level of confidence, courtesy, and conscientiousness. Also, make absolutely sure that you stay responsive and always follow up on communications or commitments within a reasonable timeframe. Demonstrating that you are a reliable individual of strong integrity will ensure the people within your network won’t hesitate to put in a good word for you or share important information with you regarding potentially lucrative employment opportunities.

Unfortunately, there is no simple solution when it comes to landing that dream job or, frankly, any job for that matter. My best advice is to just be the very best you that you can be. Always seek growth and active learning. Continue to improve and sharpen your skills, and you’ll become the candidate that employers are drooling over.

Need some ideas for organizations to volunteer with? Start building that resume now.

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