The Work’s Christmas Party – Be aware!

It’s that time of year again! The work Christmas parties are all booked in. Christmas is a time of celebration and is a good excuse to throw a party at work to close out the year. The work Christmas party has something of a reputation for being a place where people drink too much and possibly do something they might regret, which is made even worse when your job is involved.

At Levitate Recruitment we typically receive two or three calls in December/January from individuals looking for a new role citing the Christmas party as a reason they are seeking a new job.

It’s important to know how to behave at a work’s Christmas party, so here are some tips;

  • The most important thing to remember is that the party is technically still an extension of the workplace, even if you don’t get paid to attend. Whether the party happens at your actual workplace is irrelevant; what matters is that you’re essentially representing your employers and so should behave in a professional way.
  • The party will more than likely involve some senior figures within your firm, which makes it even more important to behave appropriately. Make sure you know who they are, and if possible, say hello and thank them for the party. Not only is this good for scoring brownie points, but it should also help to remind you to behave yourself.
  • Use the party as a chance to mingle with colleagues you don’t work closely with rather than just sticking to the same group. An office party is a great place to chat to colleagues you don’t spend much time with, or just haven’t gotten to know yet. Parties are a perfect networking opportunity, especially if you’ve been thinking about promotion recently.
  • Try to stay away from office gossip wherever possible. It’s fine to make small talk with your colleagues and would be rude not to, but try to avoid speaking negatively about other people, or spreading rumours about them.
  • You may have an issue with one of your colleagues. The Christmas party is not the best place to try to resolve it. You are all there to enjoy a party and not discuss frustrations with each other. It’s best to avoid them and try to resolve the situation once you are back in the office on a workday.
  • Alcohol; we all know our limits. It’s easy to get carried away especially when there may be a free bar. Having too much to drink is the most common reason for things going wrong.

Enjoying yourself at your office Christmas party shouldn’t feel like a challenge, but it’s important to remember that it’s not a regular party with your regular social circle. It’s an extension of your workplace, and so you should still act in a professional way. Using the opportunity to show yourself as a professional, sociable employee makes much more sense than doing something regrettable. Be sure to have a good time, but don’t forget who you’re with.

Remember, what happens at the Christmas party does NOT always stay at the Christmas party!

For advice about your career options, contact Levitate Recruitment. We are specialists in assisting practice-trained accountants and insolvency professionals secure new opportunities across the UK and Overseas.

 

 

 

 

Why to use a recruiter when looking for a new job

What are the benefits of using a recruitment consultant to assist you with your career search and how do you find a good one?

Comments I often hear from people I speak with for the first time include; ‘I’ve had a bad experience with recruitment consultants’ or ‘I’ve heard bad things about recruiters. This on occasion can lead to the conversation being cut short by the individual.

We’ve all had or heard of bad experiences when eating out, however, the bad taste it leaves doesn’t stop us from using a restaurant again, we may however decide not to consider that particular establishment! As in life; there is always good and bad, so don’t let the bad stop you from being open to benefiting from working with a recruiter that is very good at what they do and one that can assist you in achieving your aspirations.

How do you know what you could be potentially missing out on until you listen?

Recruitment strategy is very different across each industry sector so it is important to try and gain a good understanding of market drivers. The Insolvency and Accountancy practice markets are typically candidate led markets rather than job led. This means that potential opportunities are focussed more on an individual’s experience and if they can add value rather than a specific recruitment need or advertised opportunity. Over the last 12 months, more than 70% of the people we assisted at Levitate Recruitment have found new job opportunities with companies that didn’t have a specific job advert posted.

As a specialist Insolvency and Accountancy practice recruiter, I can only offer my views on the benefits of using a recruiter if you are looking for an opportunity in Insolvency and Accountancy Practice. If you are looking for a role in commerce and industry or another sector, some but not all may be applicable.


What are the benefits of using a Recruitment Consultant to assist you with your career search and how do you find a good one?

It’s free!

Using a recruitment consultant is free to the job seeker. Recruitment consultants are paid by companies to find suitable staff for their firm, so they are motivated to assist you in securing the right career opportunity.

A recruitment specialist in your industry

A recruitment consultant should know how the recruitment market works within your specialism. As a specialist, they will be able to talk to you about the career paths open to you based on your current experience. They will be able to listen to your aspirations and advise you on how viable they are now or in the future and inform you of the exposure/experience you need to develop to put yourself in the best position to achieve them in the future.

A specialist recruiter will have a wide range of case studies of other professionals that they have assisted and critical information directly from a hiring manager as to what they are looking for and the key skills you will need to demonstrate.

They will be able to advise you on firms that they think will be a good fit for you and will also be able to back it up with valid reasons.

CV Advice and Interview Preparation

CV Advice

It is often difficult to put down on paper what you do on a day to day basis and if it is your first time writing a professional CV, most are not sure where to start. If you do a quick google search, you will have hundreds of results telling you differing things.

Again, a specialist within your market will be able to advise you of the typical information that clients look for when they review a CV. Recruitment consultants review hundreds of CVs a week and a good recruitment consultant will know how to demonstrate your experience effectively. Your CV is your advert and it is critical that whoever reads it (be it a Partner or HR professional) is left in no doubt how strong of a prospect you are.

CVs are also used as an interview tool by clients and they will be referred to throughout the meeting. Ensuring that your CV is structured appropriately with the right information will assist this process.

Interview Preparation

Whether you are confident with interviews or not a Recruitment Consultant will be able to provide you with some specific guidance on your interview. They may not be able to tell you every single question that will be asked but they will be able to advise you on the type of people the firm/Partner typically looks for and the skills they would like for you to demonstrate. They should also have some idea of the types of questions the firm typically asks.

A common question I often get told is of concern is how to answer the weakness question, see my previous post The ‘Weakness’ Question.

A good recruiter should have the ability to assist you in interview preparation so that you are on your front foot always and in a position where it doesn’t matter what question is thrown your way, as you will be well prepared to deal with it.

They are your biggest fan!

Your CV can only say so much, your Recruitment Consultant is there to promote you to potential employers. They can tell the client why you would be a good fit for them, why it would be a good idea to meet you for a coffee and ultimately advise them on market conditions so that they learn to value each candidate they meet as a potential prospect that can add value to their firm. They should know what certain partners look for in potential hires and if that is you, they can unlock potential opportunities that are not being advertised.

A good recruiter will also be able to counteract and alleviate any potential concerns over what’s written in your CV. Have you had a few moves on your CV, have you only been in your role for 6 months but are already looking again? Rather than allowing the client to make assumptions and potentially rule you out, your consultant can advise the client why you are considering your options and broker the information in a more effective way.

They are your protector/buffer

Partners and HR Managers receive an unbelievable number of CVs each week and it takes time for them to sift through the rubbish to find the gems. A recruitment consultant can chase up on a CV and again highlight why they should be meeting you.

You’ve come out of an interview and thought you could have provided a different answer or given more information, your recruitment consultant has the chance to put this to the interviewer. If the interviewer has any reservations as to your suitability your recruiter can try to counteract these.

If you are in a time precious situation as you already have an offer on the table and you don’t want to miss out on the offer or other options to compare, your recruiter can apply a certain amount of pressure on the client to speed the process up so that you get to fully consider your options.

They have access to a wide range of job opportunities (both live and potential jobs) and the right point of contact

A recruiter in your industry will typically be on the preferred supplier list (PSL) of the large companies giving them access to the live opportunities they have. Being on the PSL will give the recruiter direct access to the relevant internal recruiter within the business and not just the standard ‘apply here’ email address meaning your application will be reviewed quickly by the relevant person.

Recruiters are often already aware of Live opportunities before they are even advertised and can therefore ensure you are at the front of the queue and hopefully meeting with hiring managers before other candidates are even aware of the role.

The true value is the access to opportunities that are not being advertised (the ‘hidden’ jobs).

Recruiters are always in dialogue with Partners and hiring managers about opportunities and future plans within their businesses. They are told of future job openings, they are informed of future growth plans and told of potential changes in the business (retirements, sackings and promotions) all of which create a potential opportunity in the business.

There may also be reasons that companies cannot actively advertise positions but know they will need someone soon, for this reason, they will approach a specialist recruiter knowing that they only speak with relevant professionals.

Are you aware of all the accountancy practices in your area?

There are more accountancy practices than just the Top 100 accountancy firms that are ranked. Your recruiter can keep you up to date on opportunities across various firms, be it Big 4, Top 10, Top 20 etc through to the strong regional practice and 3 partner firms. Each offers you a differing career path that you may not be aware of or potentially thought of.

Salary negotiation

This comes back to them being your buffer. The offer stage is the only part of the recruitment process where your and the employer’s goals are not directly aligned. Having someone in the middle to act and negotiate on your behalf negates the risk of you offending each other. Even though a recruiter’s fee can be directly linked to salary, a good recruiter will advise you on the overall opportunity rather than just trying to get you the highest possible salary offer. A good recruiter is more interested and focused on securing you the right role for your career rather than achieving a quick-win that results in a fee. They know if they do the right thing you will recommend friends and colleagues to them as they know they will get unbiased and honest advice.

When you are currently undervalued in your current role it can be difficult to justify why you may be looking for a £5k+ uplift in salary. Your recruitment consultant, again using examples/case studies walk the client through why you are worth your expectations.

Additionally, the best opportunity for you is not always the one that will pay you the most money today. A good recruiter can evaluate the opportunity across the short, medium and long term and give you advice on the role accordingly.

Your career search is effectively managed

When you are working from 9 to 5 (yeah right!) you have little time to explore the unlimited potential opportunities in your area effectively. Having someone to reach out to these companies for you, not only saves you time but ensures someone controls the timeline for you. If you have multiple interview requests then they can work with the clients and arrange times that are convenient for you. A recruiter can ensure that multiple interviews are aligned so that you are not in the situation of having an offer on the table whilst you wait 2 weeks for a 1st interview to take place.

They will ultimately look to put you in a position where you can make an informed decision and put you in a multiple offer scenario.

Trusted Career Advisor

It’s not just about when you are actively looking for a new role, it’s about understanding the type of ‘head turning’ opportunity you want to be kept informed of. There may not be the ideal role right now but if that role opens in 3, 6, 12 or even 18 months’ time, you would want to be made aware of it, wouldn’t you? A recruitment consultant should want to know about what is important to you in your career, they should want to know what your career aspirations are so when that role becomes available, they can assist you in achieving your aspirations.

Why would you not want to know about your dream role?

A very good recruiter will give you honest advice rather than just tell you what you want to hear.


How do you decide on the recruiter for you?

At the end of the day, you and the recruitment consultant should have the same focus and end goal of finding and securing the right career opportunity for your short, medium and longer-term career aspirations. How can you decide if the recruitment consultant is for though?

  • Do they know what you do, are they a specialist in your market?
  • How many years have they operated in your market? Surely a fresh grad with 6 months experience can’t expect you to believe they are an expert and specialist?
  • Have they asked enough questions to fully understand your career motives and what drives you?
  • What advice can they offer you on your CV?
  • Are they on the preferred supplier lists or have contacts in the practices you are interested in?
  • Do they have recommendations from other professionals in your profession?

As mentioned at the beginning, I stated that it is not uncommon for bad experiences or reviews in life to stop us from exploring possibilities. It definitely makes you think twice but hopefully, this article has helped you to understand why building a relationship with a specialist recruiter can give you an advantage over your peers and early access to potential opportunities.

Taking 5 minutes out of your day to explore what a recruiter can offer you is not going to cost you anything. Whether you move forward with them or not, you can only gain from the experience and perhaps learn of the perfect life-changing opportunity domestically or overseas. Even if now isn’t the right time, making them aware of what would be of interest and allowing them to be an extra set of eyes and ears in the market can only be a good thing.

My views are based on my 12 years+ of recruiting for Accountancy Practice and Insolvency professionals.

For advice about your career options, speak to Scott Lowes at Levitate Recruitment, specialists in placing practice-trained accountants and insolvency professionals across the UK, and find the right role to suit your ambitions.

 

Attending Interviews – What are your main Objectives?

Within this post, we will talk about our experience of working with candidates before interviews and how important it is to define your goals and objectives when meeting with a potential employer.

Moving jobs can be a stressful time for most people as they are heading into the unknown. You will be stepping away from your comfort zone of walking into your current office where you are respected by colleagues (hopefully) and you know your job and what is expected of you. Suddenly you are putting your name out there and are now in a position where you will need to sell your skills, experience and personality to someone you have never met. Often this uncomfortable feeling will lead to nerves and it can often change the mindset of how someone approaches their search and how well they perform at an interview.

When speaking with candidates in preparation for interviews, we often find that 2 out of 3 candidates are unable to define their key objectives. Most people are good at explaining what they need to get across in the meeting and what they want to learn about the company but they are unable to clearly define what they want this to lead to.

The main answers we receive when asking What do you feel are the 2 key objectives for you when attending an interview? are as follows:

Category 1

  • To sell my skills & experience
  • To show them I am the right person for the role
  • To get my personality across
  • To demonstrate to them that I work well in a team and with clients
  • To get on well with the interviewer

Category 2

  • To find out more about the role and the client base.
  • To see if I would be more suited to working in a smaller/larger work environment/firm
  • To make sure the location of the office or clients work for me
  • To see if they are a better firm to work for than my firm
  • To see if the opportunity is better than another one I have been offered – It will give me a good comparison
  • I have heard mixed reviews about the firm from people that have previously worked there but I would like to decide for myself

There are many more (some too ridiculous to mention), but the above are the main ones. As you will see, the responses have been split into 2 categories; the first is about impressing the interviewer and the second set are aligned to finding out more information on the company.

We often hear: The interview is a two-way process. The company need to sell themselves to me so that I want to work for them

It’s hard to disagree with this and we always speak with our clients before an interview and recommend that they do sell the opportunity as we are working in what many would class as a candidate led market where there are often more opportunities being advertised than readily available candidates that are looking to make a move. In this case, candidates have more than one option to consider so clients should be selling the opportunity, whilst also trying to gain an understanding of the person’s skills and experience and suitability for the role.

From a candidate perspective, the client selling the role to you is important and it’s great for you to feel the love but it is also a Two-way process for the client so it is more important that you identify and align your objectives in the correct order to ensure you get the best out of the interview.

Main Objectives:

Objective Number 1 – GET THE JOB!

Objective Number 2 – Decide if you want it! – Gather enough information about the opportunity to decide if it is for you.

Obvious, right? In plain sight, it is but it’s very rare that people come to this conclusion straight away and will often order them in the wrong way. We sometimes hear, what’s the point in being offered a role I don’t particularly want”  This is a fair point but unfortunately, it is very difficult to come to this decision until you have met with the firm and it can, unfortunately, lead to an unsuccessful and disappointing outcome.

Prioritising them in the right order will hopefully leave you in a position of control. If you lose this control, then ultimately you could lose it as an option. It is much better to be in control and have more than one offer of employment on the table. Once a firm has made the decision that you will add value to their business and they want to employ you, we now have more leverage to go back and ask further questions to assist you in determining, is this role right for me!

Candidates should also consider how much time they spend in an interview asking questions. This could be your only chance to sell yourself to the firm and they may have other candidates under consideration. There is nothing worse than not being offered a role purely because you were unable to tell them about something they needed to know to make a positive decision. Asking good quality questions about the role, the firm and the overall opportunity is a key part of the interview but most of your time should focus on providing reasons as to why you are the best candidate for the position, rather than, are you the best company for me. You will have the option to ask any further questions at the end of the meeting and again, greater leverage to ask further questions once an employer has offered you a position and want you to join the team.

Preconceived ideas and order of preference

It is also very natural for people to have preconceived ideas about firms and often candidates will start to rank opportunities in order of preference before they have even met with a firm. Reasons behind this can be any of the following:

  • Size of the firm and where they rank compared to others in the Top 100
  • Location of the business
  • The number of offices they have
  • Opportunity to work overseas -Do they have an international presence
  • Company brand and how they represent themselves online
  • Other people opinions of the firm and what they have heard
  • The job specification
  • What other service lines do they have
  • The interview process – Do they have testing and how many interviews will there be

It is very difficult to move away from preconceived ideas and preferences as we are all human and whilst they can sometimes be positive, the problem of holding preconceived notions as being true is that they can also lead us to very negative and critical beliefs that can also affect behaviours and how well you perform in an interview.

This is something that we discuss with every candidate we work with and it’s amazing how many times people will change their mind about a firm and where it sits in their order of preference once they have met with them.

Put yourself in the position of this happening to you. You have met with a firm that has shown interest in you joining and you have now decided that you really want to work for them, this is the job you have been dreaming about – If you knew this before the interview, what order would your objectives have been in? Are you now worried that you won’t be offered the job? Have you done enough to be offered the job?

By clearly defining your objectives and putting them in the right order, you should have prepared extremely well for this interview and done everything you can to achieve an offer. If an offer comes then you have hopefully reached both of your objectives successfully – WELL DONE TO YOU. If an offer doesn’t come, you have only successfully met one objective of deciding that the firm is right for you but unfortunately, you have not done enough to be offered the dream role and Objective Number 2 now becomes irrelevant!

It is so important that you do your best to remain in control so again your focus and Number 1 objective of going to an interview should always be:

GET THE JOB and then decide afterwards if you want it!


For advice about your career options, speak to Scott Lowes at Levitate Recruitment, specialists in placing practice-trained accountants and insolvency professionals across the UK, and find the right role to suit your ambitions.

 

 

 

Newly Qualified – Should I stay or should I go?

As a specialist recruiter with over 11 years experience of working with accountants, we have had many a conversation with accounting professionals at all levels and across different disciplines about their careers and plans for the future.

During this time, we have always found that the biggest crossroads tend to be when people are approaching qualification to become a newly qualified chartered accountant. Having entered the profession as a graduate, trainee accountants tend to be on what could be classed as a pretty straightforward path for the first 3-4 years of their career. Within the larger firms, they generally tend to specialise within a specific accountancy discipline such as audit and as the year’s progress and they pass further exams, the level of responsibility they take on increases.

We have found that during this time there is a real split in how people approach and think about their future careers. Whilst some have very set plans beyond qualification, the majority tend to focus on what they are doing now as the workload and exam pressure can become quite consuming. Once they have a chance to lift their head and look to the future, the natural tendency when thinking about career progression and change is to move away from what they are currently doing with a ‘the grass is always greener on the other side’ approach rather than trying to embrace what they have achieved and where it can take them internally or within another accountancy practice firm in the same discipline.

As a specialist recruiter and career consultant, it is key for us to understand not just what skills they have obtained but to dig deeper and try to gain a better understanding of their personality, what motivates them and where they would like to progress in their career. This then allows us to offer advice and assist them to plan effectively to achieve their short, medium and long term objectives.

“I want to be more commercial!”

Most conversations and meetings we have with potential candidates normally start with:

Candidate: “I want to get out of audit” or “I’m not sure what I want to do but it needs to be something more commercial”

Levitate Recruitment: “OK, why do you feel you need to move away from audit and what would you class as more commercial?”

At this point, we normally receive a blank stare before a few job titles are thrown at us such as, corporate finance executive or working in industry as an analyst or a Financial accountant. When asked why they feel those areas would be more commercial? We have received some great answers but more than often, an answer that hasn’t been considered and one that has no real evidence of why it would be the right move for them in seeking out something ‘more commercial’

We can see why people may initially believe these disciplines are more commercial, they are certainly different to audit but it’s fundamental that people research both areas to gain knowledge of the different types of opportunities that are available, what the day to day duties will be and how the move will improve their CV and develop their skillset further. Once you have done this then you will have a better idea if it really is more commercial than a progressive audit role and if it is in fact the right move for you.

It is also important to understand if a certain move is available at this stage of your career and if not, what do you need to do to improve your chances. This is one of the many reasons why experienced consultants that have worked in accountancy recruitment can be invaluable when people are looking to take the next step. Many newly qualified accountants choose to apply for lots of roles directly and whilst this can be a good way to secure a new role, there is no harm in at least having a conversation with an experienced recruiter that understands the current market as this can not only provide useful insight but also remove the risk of you applying for roles that you will not be considered for at this stage. If it turns out that the move isn’t possible just now then they will be able to assist you in working towards this move within your current role or providing a stepping stone move that will get you closer.

“I made a mistake!”

Whilst many jump ship into industry to get an extra few thousand pounds and a move out of audit, we regularly receive calls from the same people 6 months later to state that the move wasn’t all they thought it would be and whilst they are working for an industry company, the role is anything but commercial. Some will move as analysts and find themselves looking at spreadsheets with no real communication with business leaders and some will move as management or financial accountants and find themselves working on the same accounts every month in a role that has very little impact on business strategy.

Another key factor for people coming back to us to reconsider a career in practice is that they miss the client interaction they were once accustomed to and they often miss the opportunity to work across different sectors and with a whole range of different business sizes that operate in a totally different way. We frequently hear “I didn’t think that working in audit was that commercial or interesting, but I now realise that I learned so much more about different businesses when I was working on-site and interacting with my clients”

This is of course not the same for everyone and many people do make immediate moves into industry that work for them. Below we have provided a few points to consider that may assist you to make the decision to further your career within practice first.

Legacy & Time invested within your current firm

You have worked long hours and developed goodwill within your current firm – Try to take advantage of this and sit down with your managers and directors to discuss a career plan that will take you further – They will more likely be open to investing in you than a new person joining and as someone that is more senior, they can hopefully educate on the different options that will also work for the firm. One of the hardest parts of running a successful business is to attract and retain good staff that are motivated to assist the business to move forward. Why not try to utilise your commitment and loyalty as a strength to either push on within your current specialism or move across to another area of the business to gain further skills.

Change Specialism

There is the obvious choice to push on within your current specialism but if this is something you really don’t wish to do then why not ask about other areas of the firm that you can work in. It is important to do your research first. This should include looking at all areas of the business and taking the opportunity to speak with people in these departments to understand what they do and what they enjoy about their roles. Once you have done this then ask the question! If it isn’t available then perhaps another great accountancy practice down the road can make it available?

Further training and a structured career path

It is well known that accountancy firms can offer further training and a structured career path. This is not often the case when moving into industry as many firms do not embrace or feel there is a need for further training. Depending on the size of the firm, there may only also be a few steps up that you can take and you, therefore, see yourself sitting in the same role for quite a long time which means you then need to make another move to push forward. Accountancy departments are just one part of their business and as a cost to the business, rather than a revenue generator, it is often the area that receives less investment in training and development. We also find that there can be a big gap between the newly qualified roles and FC/FD roles which normally means they recruit someone more experienced into the business above you.

Same firm – New Opportunity 

Working as a newly qualified accountant within practice also means that you have now dropped the exam pressure that was hanging over your head. You are most likely about to receive a promotion and pay rise where your role will gradually begin to change and your responsibilities will give you more feeling of importance and value to the firm. Try to embrace this chance as a new start in the business where you can build on your knowledge and focus on the next step. Setting timelines and objectives for promotion is certainly more manageable within a practice structure and most firms will provide 2 years programmes for you to take the next step up. You can make slightly more money stepping into industry at a newly qualified level but the rise in salary and opportunity to push to manager will generally happen quicker in a practice firm due to the structure and 2 yearly promotion cycles. Once this does happen, you will see the salary level jump up much quicker each time. We also find that those that have had further training and decided to move into industry at manager level are more than likely going in at a higher level than their peers that may have left at NQ level.

Candidate Pool & Competition for jobs

As external audit is a specialist area, accountancy firms are unable to hire just any qualified accountant. They need people that have relevant experience in audit within certain sectors and people that have years of experience in working with a range of reporting standards. Since the day I started recruiting in practice (over 10 years ago) there has always been a shortage of experienced auditors both in the UK & overseas, which means there is a great opportunity for you to capitalise on this and push on into a more senior role.

Within industry, this is a totally different scenario! Yes, there are roles available for NQs to secure but the competition for these roles is extremely high. You will be up against people from all different backgrounds that have worked in different firm environments and within different sectors. Many of the larger FTSE firms will have some criteria based on the career path they have followed and will generally seek out Big 4 trained professionals or those with a specific sector background.

You will also find you are not only up against newly qualified individuals from practice but a much larger candidate pool of people that have either trained in industry or those that have already made the move and now have industry experience. As an employer looking to make the best hire, it is much easier to take a safer bet and employ someone that already has industry experience and is settled in that environment rather than a practice first-time mover who hasn’t had this experience and may require some further on the job training.

Touching on the point above: Remaining with your current employer where you have built a legacy and proven loyalty will generally be respected and rewarded. If you are making a move into industry with a new employer then building loyalty and trust is back to the start.

Moving to another practice firm

For some of the people we speak with about their next step, it needs to be totally different. They need a change as they really do not enjoy the area of accountancy they are working in. Some leave accountancy altogether as they realised early on that it wasn’t for them but didn’t wish to lose the time they had invested in working towards the qualification. Others that need a change will often work out that it’s not the work that is making them unhappy and clambering for change but the environment they are working in or the people they are surrounded by. Some are unable to work this out for themselves so you must take time to consider the pros and cons of your role so that you can understand what it is that makes you unsettled. If you are struggling with this then speak with a specialist recruiter who can assist you to break down what you do and don’t enjoy.

A move to a new firm and role provides a new start and is often viewed as an opportunity for you to shine and progress. As an experienced consultant, We will always advise everyone we speak with to sit down and speak with their current firm about their career path and what is on offer as it’s impossible to make an educated decision if this hasn’t been explored. If we are being totally honest, it’s also a way of protecting our time as firms do not wish to lose employees and 9 times out of 10 will sit down with their employees after they have tendered resignation to work out what they can do to keep them before providing a counteroffer to keep them. It is always the first place to start when considering options but we will also advise people to at least consider speaking with other firms at the same time so that they can get a better view of what else is on offer and how this compares to what is available within their current firm. Those that do this can then confidently move forward in their career knowing they have researched and considered all options before making a commitment.

Working Overseas

Achieving ACA or ACCA status means you can literally work anywhere in the world that recruit’s accountants. Most of the major International cities will have the same Top accountancy firms you would expect to see in the UK. If they don’t then there will most certainly be some kind of affiliation to one that you know. As in the UK, qualified accountants from a practice background are always in high demand and there is no better time to make an international move than at the newly qualified stage as this is when you are viewed as being ‘the most flexible’. Moving at a later stage in your career is still possible but there will always be fewer opportunities to consider. We also find that the older someone gets then the less likely an International move will be as their situation changes and can sometimes dictate available options.

Making an International move in industry is possible but is less likely if you do not have prior industry experience. As a recruiter that has assisted people to move all over the world to places such as Australia, New Zealand, The Caribbean, Canada, Luxembourg, Switzerland and South Africa, we have never once spoken with a newly qualified accountant from practice that has successfully made this international move without travelling over to work in a practice firm first. My advice is to make a move for a minimum of 12 months in a similar practice role and then make the move into industry. This way, you will have more locations & opportunities to consider, the move will be smoother as you are doing something you know and you will also have a chance to gain an understanding of any differences there are in accounting rules and processes whilst working with a wide range of specialist accountants.

As a specialist recruiter for accountancy practice roles, we will of course lean towards remaining in practice as a great option. We have seen the benefits of further training and career progression and witnessed people progress from newly qualified to Director and Partner level. Whilst this is the case, Industry also offers people great opportunities and we have also seen many people make great moves where they have progressed to FD and even CEO.

If you are unsure about your next step then we are always here to assist and provide advice. It may be that you want to consider both options and if this is the case then the best option is to also speak with recruiters that specialise in industry roles and try to meet with several firms that can offer you a different outlook on how your career can progress and develop. If you do your research and take your time then hopefully whichever way you go will be the right direction for you.

Career decisions are some of the most important life changes you will ever make. Let us help.

For advice about your career options, speak to Scott Lowes at Levitate Recruitment, specialists in placing practice-trained accountants and insolvency professionals across the UK, and find the right role to suit your ambitions.

 

 

Insolvency in the Caribbean – Take your career offshore

You’ve spent the day working and learning on some of the most interesting and challenging assignments you’ve had exposure to. The sun is shining as you walk across the beach on your short commute home. Checking your payslip, you see that you have had zero tax deducted and start planning your weekend break in the states…sounds like a dream doesn’t it!

The reality is, that there are opportunities that will offer you all the above and much much more.

In the Caribbean and Bermuda, the Insolvency and Restructuring job market is as buoyant as it has ever been. There are a range of Restructuring Boutiques and Accountancy Practices across the islands actively seeking experienced Insolvency and Restructuring professionals to join their growing teams.

The main locations include;

  • Cayman Islands
  • British Virgin Islands
  • Bahamas
  • Bermuda

The islands are proud of their beautiful white sandy beaches, crystal clear oceans and diverse marine life. There is something for everyone; be it surfing, scuba diving, sailing snorkelling, sunbathing, sipping cocktails in stunning locations or sampling the unique and mouth-watering cuisine. The islands have rich multicultural populations with people relocating from all over the world to live and work in the Caribbean. With companies having to hire certain expertise from overseas, the islands have established expat communities always looking to welcome newcomers.

The islands boast an extremely buoyant tourist industry which adds further diversity and vibrancy. The tourism industry attracts considerable government investment in the islands’ infrastructure making the quality of life extremely high.

Companies actively organise and promote internal and external social events to ensure that their people integrate and settle well into island life.

The islands are well situated to allow easy travel to the US, Central and South America and the wider Caribbean region for short or long breaks.

For those with families, the islands have very low crime rates and offer a diverse and safe environment for children to grow and learn. There are a number of international schools providing a first-class education and an enriched environment to enhance and nurture personal development.

The islands offer something for everyone, whether relocating on your own or with a family.

Companies looking to hire Insolvency and Restructuring professionals from overseas are well known Big 4 / Top 10 International Accountancy Practices as well as Restructuring Boutiques and offshore specialists. Each offers a different infrastructure, culture and professional development to their employees. With the recent growth in the Insolvency/Restructuring markets offshore, roles are available across all levels;

  • Senior Administrator
  • Manager
  • Senior Manager
  • Director

Job opportunities are offered on a permanent basis as opposed to a fixed-term contract. There is an expectation that those that relocate will eventually look to return to their home country or elsewhere, companies will typically look to retain someone for a minimum of 2 years.

Although many relocators may initially approach these moves with a 2-year timeframe, a significant number have remained for many years longer. A high number of Insolvency Partners and Directors across the firms in the Caribbean initially made the moves as Seniors or Managers, which demonstrates how you can achieve a high level of career progression coupled with a great quality of life.

Due to the nature of most offshore locations, a large percentage of the insolvency work comes from the financial services industry. The source of work can come from a range of companies that operate in multiple jurisdictions and include; Hedge Funds, Captive Insurance and Reinsurance companies as well as International Business companies.

There is a mix of formal insolvency, advisory, investigations and forensic work being undertaken, and you can expect your caseload to include a mix of;

  • Voluntary Liquidations
  • Compulsory Liquidations
  • Contentious cases
  • Cross-border insolvency
  • Receiverships and administrative receiverships
  • Business and Liquidity Reviews
  • Multi-faceted litigations,
  • Investigations, Forensic and advisory engagements of all types.

The scale of the work can range from the millions to the billions. The assignments will include a lot of litigation work based on the size of the projects and are at the cutting edge of cross-border insolvency.

Due to the nature of the work, these projects will take you all over the world. It is not unusual to have assignments that have assets in the UK, US, Russia, South Africa, Australia, France and many other locations.

Based on work permit requirements and typical local insolvency/restructuring experience in the country someone is relocating from, companies are typically seeking insolvency professionals from the United Kingdom, Ireland, Australia, New Zealand, Canada and the US.

Alongside several years working in an insolvency/restructuring position, a formal accountancy or insolvency qualification is required. These include; ACA/ACCA/CA/CPA or JIEB. In some instances, the CPI qualification may be considered.

The interview process is relatively straight forward with most companies carrying out 2-3 interviews before making an offer. Interviews are mainly conducted by phone or video conference. In some instances, there may be face to face interviews.

The process from the first interview to starting the role could be between 2 and 4 months. Notice periods play a big factor, and we would always advise not to hand your notice in until your work permit is confirmed.

Salaries are very competitive and depending on location will be tax-free with excellent benefits. To assist you with your relocation, companies will provide you with work permit sponsorship, flights, temporary accommodation upon arrival and in some instances; 2 weeks car/moped hire and an interest-free loan to help you settle in.

As with anything, there are always negatives that may not be for everyone.

The cost of living can be considered high due to many items being imported, however, the level of salary and the fact they are tax-free (or low tax) more than compensate for this.

Another thing to consider is that due to the tropical nature of the islands they do have their fair share of hurricanes and tropical storms, though the islands are well prepared and equipped for these.

A career move to the Caribbean/Bermuda can provide you with an excellent platform to develop your professional and personal development with a stable work/life balance in a tropical environment.

The offshore job market is an exciting place for insolvency and restructuring professionals at present. It offers the opportunity to work on complex, multi-faceted insolvency cases and provides those who relocate the chance to travel, experience new cultures and build new friendships in some of the most beautiful locations in the world.

*The Channel Islands are also another location to consider if you are looking to take your career offshore.

If you would like to discuss insolvency/restructuring opportunities in the Caribbean, please do not hesitate to contact me – slowes@levitaterecruitment.com

 

 

Don’t judge a book by its cover – are you letting a Job Title hold back your career?

How many times have you heard the phrase, “don’t judge a book by its cover”?

As a recruiter, it’s my role to speak with individuals to understand their requirements and learn about their career aspirations. When discussing what they are looking for, one of the most common requirements specified is that of the ‘job title’.

Many people can work their whole career just to attain a certain job title. Many can feel that a certain job title is holding them back and is either ruining their chance for future progression or is offering an unfair indication of what they actually do within their role.

Don’t judge a book by its cover. It has been my experience that too many job seekers focus too much on a job title.

For example, someone recently got “promoted”. They received new responsibilities and a pay rise. However, they were not given a new job title. This individual feels that they deserve a new title for their new responsibilities – but does it truly matter?

Job titles can seem like a very big deal, but for the majority of the time, they do not actually mean a great deal. Sure, they can make someone feel important but for the majority of examples, a job title merely allows for a sense of hierarchy in a certain organisation.

I have worked on behalf of countless clients and businesses over my 12+ years in recruitment and if I were to look at the same job title across varying sectors and businesses each correlating job title will have a whole different set of job descriptions to the next.

One thing to take into consideration is that not only does a job title keep employees happy at times, but they can also have a positive impact on clients. For example, let’s say you are negotiating a deal for a new supplier. You ask three different companies for a quote. One company sends in a Sales Representative, the other sends in a Sales Executive, and the final one sends in their Area Sales Manager. On paper, all three of these people have exactly the same salary and same job role.

Just based on their title, which of these people would you assume would be more superior?

In reality, it could be the Sales Representative who has 3 more years experience than the others, has greater knowledge of the products and has the autonomy to make a decision regarding discounts.

I believe that a job title should never hold you back, nor should you focus solely on them.

If you are looking to progress your career either within your current employer or by exploring external opportunities, I advise you to never allow a job title to limit you on what you set out to achieve. If your responsibilities have the potential to help your company to grow and for you to develop your experience, then you should do it – never mind what your job title states.

I have also known people to hit their desired job title and then stagnate as they stopped pushing themselves to keep developing their experience as they felt their job title described what they are. Securing a promotion or finding a new job in a higher role is a great achievement, but that does not mean you should rest on your laurels if you have grander aspirations. Regardless of your job title, you should always assess whether what you do on a day to day basis is providing you with professional development.

As mentioned earlier; many individuals believe that job titles are easily transferrable and yet they are not. The roles of a general manager in one sector can be completely different from that of a general manager in a different one.

Another example is based on what we deal with a lot at Levitate Recruitment; the insolvency sector. There is not a uniform title across the sector that you can hang your hat on; an Insolvency Administrator in one company could have 12 months experience, whereas in other firms, Insolvency Administrators could have 4 years experience, and in another 7 years experience – and yet all hold that exact same job title.

Using the same example; an Insolvency Administrator with 2 years of experience dealing with corporate insolvency cases in one company could also be called an Insolvency Associate, Insolvency Executive, Restructuring Analyst or Insolvency Case Manager in others.

The big problem that occurs here is that a job title deemed as ‘inferior’ could actually be a step up. So never allow a job title from putting you off applying for a certain role. That ‘inferior’ job title could quite possibly be the step up in your career ladder that you have been looking for! The role may give you access to more complex clients, larger clients or a more in-depth role in client assignments.

So, going back to my initial statement.

When it comes to job titles, don’t judge a book by its cover. Do not over-rely on job titles and allow them to hold you back in the quest for a new role, a new career, and a new challenge. What should be important to you is the job role that you will have to work on a day to day basis – and perhaps the salary if you are this way inclined. A job title is just that; a title, and at the end of the day only separates a certain company’s hierarchy and in no way defines what you are, who you are, and how you do it.

I’m not saying that Job Titles hold no value at all, just that there is much more to a new career opportunity than what it states on your business card.

Dig deeper than just the job title and you could find yourself achieving quicker and better career development than you ever hoped for.

My opinion on Job Titles is based on my 12 years+ of recruiting for Accountancy Practice and Insolvency professionals. Job titles may have greater importance within other industries.

 For advice about your career options, speak to Scott Lowes at Levitate Recruitment, specialists in placing practice-trained accountants and insolvency professionals across the UK, and find the right role to suit your ambitions.

 

Relocating from the UK to the Channel Islands – This is one audit professional’s experience

Making any career move is an important decision, one that is only intensified by the possibility of relocation.

We have reached out to a number of individuals we have assisted over the years who have successfully made a career move overseas.

We spoke to Andrew who we assisted make a move from a mid-tier practice in the UK to join a Big 4 Practice in the Channel Islands.

Nationality: British

Location from and to: UK to the Channel Islands

Experience background: Audit Supervisor with a mid-tier practice in London. ACA Qualified.

Role secured: Audit Senior with a Big 4 practice focussing on financial services clients.


  • Why did you first consider making a move overseas? To expand on my professional experience, and gain exposure to overseas work and gain experience in the Financial Services Industry.
  • What locations were you interested in and why? Initially Australia and the Caribbean, but decided on the Channel Islands given the Covid Restrictions that were started to come into force around the world at the time I was looking to move jobs.
  • What were your personal circumstances at the time of the move – single/married/homeowner? Single person, non-homeowner.
  • How did you find out about opportunities and start to apply for roles? I heard of the opportunities in the Channel Islands from Scott Lowes from Levitate Recruitment, and a former colleague who used to work at a top 10 firm in Jersey.
  • What useful information was provided to you by the recruiter? Yes, I was given a good insight into the types of roles available in the Channel Islands and the recruitment process.
  • How did the Interview process work? There were two interviews, the first one was over the telephone with someone from the HR Department. The second interview happened a few days later, being an online video call with a Manager and Senior Manager from the Audit Department. I received my offer a day after my second interview.
  • How long did it take to secure a Visa or work permit and what was required from you? The work visa took several weeks I believe to get sorted out. I believe I was only required to show a copy of my passport for this being a UK Citizen. I also had to undertake a vetting process which is conducted by a third party, who conduct reference checks and checks over qualifications etc. This took about 4-5 weeks.
  • Please can you walk us through your first 3 months in the new location/job and how you managed to settle into your new life? When I first arrived I had to spend about a week quarantining in a hotel that was paid for by the company, due to Guernsey’s Covid restrictions in place at the time. Part-way through this, I was able to start my work where I did compliance training and other admin. Once I was able to go to the office I was shown around and introduced to the majority of people who were present. For the first three months there was a lot of learning of the systems and processes in place at KPMG, but there were plenty of people on hand to offer assistance when needed. Guernsey is a rather small place, and so it was relatively easy getting to know the local area. The people at work were great at recommending were the main things nearby were, shops, gym, restaurants etc. There are usually a few people heading out to town on Fridays, which is often a good opportunity to get to know people and the local area when you’re relatively new to the island. I was able to go out a few times when I first joined, and also took part in several activities organised by work in the first few weeks of me joining, which allowed me to get to know more people faster.
  • How do you feel it benefitted your personal development? The move has allowed me to gain exposure to new country, at a time when worldwide travel became severely limited.
  • How do you feel an international move benefitted you professionally? The move has given me a great exposure into the world of Financial Services, where I previously didn’t have any experience in. Working in a top 4 firm has meant that I often have to work with teams in different parts of the world, and work in much larger teams. This has been one of the biggest changes from my previous role and has greatly improved my teamwork and leadership skills.
  • How long was the process from you speaking with your consultant to you actually making the move? I initially touched base with my consultant about a year before I actually made the move. However, the initial discussions were about what potential options there were for as I had recently qualified, at that stage I wasn’t 100% sure whether I wanted to move overseas. From the point of focussing purely on discussing roles in the Channel Islands, to me moving over there, it was about 3-4 months.
  • What value do you think working with a recruiter had in securing an opportunity overseas? Enabling me to gain a greater insight into the opportunities over there, and the recruitment process. Working with a recruiter also gave greater access to contacts of those working in the HR Departments of the firms in the Channel Islands.
  • What was the hardest part of making an international move? Deciding whether leaving the firm that I trained with was the right move, as I really enjoyed working where I was previously.
  • What advice would you offer someone thinking of making a move overseas? Do as much research as you can on the places you’re thinking of moving to, in order to determine as much as possible whether you think you’ll be happy living there. Research on the firms who work in those areas and the type of work that you’ll be doing.

There is currently a soaring global demand for qualified accountants and insolvency professionals. With our extensive network of relationships with large international accounting firms and insolvency specialists, Levitate Recruitment are well-versed in placing talented professionals in overseas roles.

If you are interested in making your career a journey and are considering a move overseas, do not hesitate to contact us.

There is currently a soaring global demand for qualified accountants and insolvency professionals. With our extensive network of relationships with large international accounting firms and insolvency specialists, Levitate Recruitment are well-versed in placing talented professionals in overseas roles.

 

Relocating from the UK to Australia – This is one Insolvency professional’s experience

Making any career move is an important decision, one that is only intensified by the possibility of relocation.

We have reached out to a number of individuals we have assisted over the years who have successfully made a career move overseas.

We spoke to Karlien who we assisted make a move from a Big 4 practice in the UK to join an Insolvency specialist in Perth, Australia.

Nationality:  Originally from South Africa but has dual British / South African nationality.

Location to and from: Moved from the UK to Perth, Australia

Experience Background: Senior Insolvency Administrator with a Big 4 practice. No professional qualifications at the time but had 13 years of insolvency experience.

Role secured: Senior Insolvency Administrator with a leading Insolvency Specialist.


  • Why did you first consider making a move overseas? My partner is an Australian and was keen to go back home to Perth.
  • What locations were you interested in and why? Perth as that was where his family and friends were located.
  • What were your personal circumstances at the time of the move – single/married/homeowner? De-facto Relationship, renting.
  • How did you find out about opportunities and start to apply for roles? Through Scott Lowes at Levitate Recruitment after applying for an advert I saw online.
  • What useful information was provided to you by the recruiter? Scott had excellent knowledge of the Australian market and knew of the local firms in Perth that would be suitable. He had several contacts so was able to assist my needs and secure an interview at a firm that was a good fit.
  • How did the interview process work? I was already in Australia so was able to attend interviews in person.
  • How long did it take to secure a Visa or work permit and what was required from you? I went in on a De-facto partner visa which I had applied for circa 6 months prior to the visa being granted.
  • Please can you walk us through your first 3 months in the new location/job and how you managed to settle into your new life? The biggest hurdle was finding rental accommodation as a very high percentage of people own their own properties.  Fortunately, we were able to stay with friends.  Getting bank account, driving license, Medicare etc. sorted took less than 2 weeks to sort out. The Australians are very laidback easy-going people, however very driven and hard-working. I joined the social club at work, which helped to get to know my colleagues out of the office and make friends.   Taking part in networking events also broadened my social circle as well as joining study groups for when I was doing some exams.
  • How do you feel it benefitted your personal development? Moving from London to Perth was a big adjustment, however a good one. There is more focus on the importance of family life here.  People tend to start early and only work past 5:30 pm if necessary. I’ve learned to slow down a bit and not to rush around everywhere!
  • How do you feel an international move benefitted you professionally? I’ve had to do some Insolvency Law exams and almost had to start again in respect of the different types of Insolvency here compared to the UK. There was a steep learning curve, but it has definitely been beneficial especially with the increase in cross-border insolvency matters.
  • How long was the process from you speaking with Levitate to you actually making the move? I left London in March to go travelling and arrived in Australia in November. In this period, I was in touch with Scott and I had an interview lined up within a couple of weeks of arriving in Perth and secured the job a week after my 2nd
  • What value do you think working with Levitate Recruitment had on you securing an opportunity overseas? Arriving in a new country is stressful enough without having to try and find a job as well. So, I could concentrate on getting accommodation, and improving my surfing skills whilst Scott was doing all the hard work of finding me job opportunities!

Route to Partnership – UK Wide Opportunities

We are currently working with a wide range of UK based accountancy practices that are searching for their directors & partners of the future. Clients have asked us to speak with people at management & director level regarding career opportunities that vary from relationship managers where you are responsible for 100% of the services provided within the client portfolio through to 100% audit focused positions within mixed and specialist sectors.

Whilst we work with the Big 4, Top 10 and Top 20 accountancy practices, we are finding that the strong regional firms can offer a more flexible approach to career development and still provide a portfolio consisting of large International clients and strong SMEs. Working for firms of this size provides a more mixed portfolio where you can develop your skills across different specialisms and become more of an all-round business advisor.

Currently, we have roles available across the following locations:

  • Greater London
  • Home Counties
  • South Coast
  • South West
  • Midlands
  • North West
  • Yorkshire

As the market is extremely ‘job rich’ at the moment, it offers professionals a great opportunity to make moves that are not just financially more rewarding but also more aligned to the type of work they want to do. Firms are also providing more flexibility to ensure people are realising a better work/life balance.

Why work with Levitate Recruitment?

As a specialist in this market, we are not just here to drop you into a live position or call you every time a role pops up based on a clients requirements. We are experienced in building an understanding of professional accountants’ career goals and will create a success assured project that will assist you in making that next step forward based on your career desires.

If you are currently considering your options or you are generally just looking for some market knowledge then we would love to hear from you. Even if now is not the right time we can offer experienced and tailored advice that can assist you in working towards your short, medium and long term goals.

Now really is a great time to be speaking with people and even if you decide not to make a move, an exploratory conversation is always a step forward.

Please contact Scott Lowes at the Levitate Recruitment offices or email me so that we can arrange an appropriate time to meet up for a coffee or speak on the telephone.

 

Thinking of relocating?

We are often contacted by professional’s keen to relocate to another part of the UK who need to secure the right job first. They are unsure of the options in their chosen locations so are looking for some advice on the firms and opportunities.

Major cities tend to be the popular locations such as London, Manchester, Birmingham, Leeds and Bristol. However, we do get requests for smaller towns all across the UK.

The large Accountancy Practices typically have offices in or close to all the major cities and towns. We are a preferred supplier for these firms and are well placed to inform you of potential opportunities in your desired location.

As a specialist, as well as the larger practices we are also aware of the local accountancy practices in the different areas of the UK that you may not have heard of. We are able to give you some background information on these practices and advise you why they would be a suitable option for you based on your career aspirations.

We have assisted a significant number of Insolvency and Accountancy Practice professionals to find a new job prior to them relocating. Their reasons for relocating included; to be closer to family and friends, moving to a bigger town/city or smaller town life, moving back ‘home’ or just for a change.

Whatever your motivation for relocating and regardless of where in the UK you are thinking, get in contact with us to understand your potential options.

For advice about your career options, speak to Scott Lowes at Levitate Recruitment, specialists in placing practice-trained accountants and insolvency professionals across the UK, and find the right role to suit your ambitions.

 


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