Competition

 

As we head towards the Summer we thought it would be the ideal time to give away £500 worth of holiday vouchers.

In our previous competition, we asked what prizes you would like to win. Holidays was the standout winner.

You can win £500 worth of holiday vouchers to put towards your next Family Holiday, Romantic Weekend Break, Girls/Boys holiday etc.

All it takes is 5 minutes to complete a few questions below.

 

YOU’VE GOT TO BE IN IT TO WIN IT!

Holiday Vouchers Competition

Complete the contact details below so we can ensure we can contact the winner.
  • Questions

  • HOW CAN WE IMPROVE?

    As we navigate life with the pandemic, the cost of living crisis etc and thereafter, we want to position ourselves as the 'go-to' recruiter for Insolvency, Restructuring and Accountancy Practice (Audit, Accounts, Tax, Forensic and Corporate Finance) professionals. We feel we are well-positioned to be the best option for individuals looking to make a career move, however, we always want to improve.
  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

 

Terms: This competition is ONLY open to those that work for an Insolvency/Restructuring Specialist, Accountancy Practice, Corporate Finance Boutique or Tax Practice in the UK and Ireland. The winner will be selected at random on 1st August 2022. The winner will win £500 worth of travel vouchers from a retailer of their choice. There will be no cash alternative.

 

Live the Dream in 2022/2023- Relocate to the Caribbean

Location:   Caribbean & Bermuda

Salary:       £40,000 – £50,000 Low Tax – + benefits package + relocation package + excellent social events

Islands:     Cayman Islands, British Virgin Islands, Bahamas, Turks & Caicos & Bermuda

Due to internal promotions and the completion of secondment contracts, Big 4 and Top 10 firms across the Caribbean are seeking high calibre, Audit Seniors.  As the roles are in high demand places are secured early in the year; companies are currently conducting telephone interviews with qualified and soon to be qualified accountants. Opportunities in these locations offer individuals the chance to enhance their career and life experiences.

You will join as an audit senior and work under the guidance of experienced managers. You will be involved in all aspects of the engagement from planning, fieldwork and completion. For those making the transition from conventional Audit to Financial Services, comprehensive training is provided.

Key aspects of these roles; 

  • Very Low or Tax-Free salaries.
  • Client sectors will include;
    • Banks
    • Mutual Funds
    • Hedge Funds
    • Insurance
    • Reinsurance
    • Structured Investment Vehicles
  • Client’s revenues range anywhere from $100 million up to $5 billion.
  • Working in teams ranging from 3 to 20 people.
  • Upon completion of your training, you will take on responsibility for a team of 4.
  • After your first 12 months, you will be assigned a new starter to take under your wing to mentor and ease into work and island life.
  • There are opportunities for secondments, including;
  • Secondments to New York
  • Secondments to Banks, Insurance Companies and Hedge Fund Management companies.
  • Contracts are typically 18 months/2 years however Managers are always required so those wishing to stay longer are more than welcome.
  • A number of firms promote a more casual ‘office based’ dress code than you would typically find elsewhere.

The annual intake of qualified professionals across the islands brings together a diverse range of cultures from around the world. The islands also boast an extremely buoyant tourist industry which adds further diversity and vibrancy to the islands. The tourism industry attracts considerable government investment in the islands’ infrastructure making the quality of life there extremely high.

Due to the nature of the clients in the Caribbean and Bermuda, these roles provide the benefits of gaining first-hand and valuable insight into the financial services industry whilst having the support network of an International firm.

A career move to one of these destinations will provide you with an excellent work-life balance ensuring you have time to enjoy the warm climate and relaxed lifestyle.  They are proud of their beautiful white sandy beaches, lush rainforests and diverse marine life. There is something for everyone here; be it snorkelling, sunbathing, sipping cocktails in stunning locations or sampling the unique and mouth-watering cuisine. The firms all actively organise and promote internal and external social events to ensure that their staff integrate and settle well into island life.

Requirements:

  • ACA/ACCA/CPA/CA qualified or soon to be qualified.
  • Due to strict visa/work permit criteria our clients can only consider applications from the UK, Ireland, USA, Australia, New Zealand, Canada and South Africa.
  • Top 20 accountancy firm background ideally required.

For further information, please contact Scott Lowes at the Levitate Recruitment offices.

 

Competency Based Interview Questions – What are they and how to ace them

As a specialist Accountancy Practice recruiter, it is our job to consult candidates throughout their career and during the job searching process which can be for many, a stressful time. There is a lot to consider in the early stages of a search to ensure we can identify together what is the best next step but further down the line and one of the key parts, is of course the interview stage as it is the first and potentially only opportunity for a candidate to sell themselves to the potential employer.

The general objective when interviewing someone for a specific role is to identify if that person has the right skills, experience, personality and attitude for the role they are applying for. Different firms and interviewers have different approaches of how best to discover if someone is the right candidate. Some will ask a few questions that are relevant to what they are looking for but without any specific aim in mind other than getting an overall impression of you as an individual. Most of these questions are generally quite ‘open questions’ and often will not test any specific skill or competency leaving the decision to determine if someone is right to be quite subjective.

Within this article, we are going to concentrate on what competency-based questions are, why they are used and how best to answer them during an interview. For some of the people reading this, it may not be anything new, but having prepared over 500 accountancy professionals throughout my career for interviews, we are confident that there will be many that have never faced a competency-based question and some that haven’t even heard of them or have no understanding what they are.

What is a Competency-Based Interview Question?

Competency-based interviews (also known as structured or behavioural based questions) are a series of questions relating to an individual’s behaviour in specific circumstances. The interviewer will generally decide what they feel are the most important competencies required within the role and they will expect specific examples of how you have managed and dealt with situations you have faced previously either inside or outside of the workplace.

It use to be the case that competency-based questions were generally only utilised by HR recruiters in the larger Big 4 and Top 10 firms. This was mainly because their recruitment processes were more refined due to the number of staff they employ each year and to ensure they are identifying the best professionals in the market.   As time has progressed and Mid-Tier and smaller firms have developed their processes, we have noticed that they are becoming increasingly popular and something that candidates should be aware of when preparing for an interview

Whilst competency-based questions can be challenging and put you on the back foot if you haven’t prepared for them, they should be seen as a great opportunity for professionals to demonstrate their skills and accomplishments and ultimately, a great chance to show potential employees why you are the right person for the role.

Preparation

The majority of interviewers will ask you to provide specific examples of previous work or situations you have faced whilst others may throw specific scenarios at you and then expect you to follow up with previous examples or if you have none to offer, how would you approach the situation to reach your objective.

Prior to the interview, it is important for candidates to think about what competencies are important for the role they have applied for. These competencies can often be uncovered within a job specification in the key skills section but it is also important for you to think about what other skills they may wish to uncover and what skills you are keen to get across during the interview.

Typical Competencies

It can be difficult to prepare for every question that an interviewer may ask as each person will have their own style and technique. The same goes for guaranteeing the competencies they will explore but we have set out below some of the key ones to consider:

Accountability – They will be looking for evidence that you are self-motivated and take responsibility for the decisions you make and the tasks you need to manage. Typically, they will ask you to tell them about a recent time when you took personal responsibility for delivering a project or assignment.

Business focus – The challenge here is to demonstrate your ability to identify business opportunities and successfully manage commercial risks. They will usually ask you about some of your recent client work and look for evidence of how you have helped grow the relationship and identify new business opportunities.

Building relationships – Much of your work will be in teams, so they will be looking for evidence of how well you work with others. They will ask you about times you may have helped a colleague or recognised the need to change your style to get the best out of others.

Making an impact – Clients expect you to be a confident professional who is capable of making an impact and building strong business relationships. They will therefore be judging how strong an impact you make on them during the interview, and are likely to talk to you about times when you had to persuade a client to follow your advice or successfully negotiate a difficult issue.

Developing people – It is important as you progress your career as an accountant that you can support the development of colleagues. Sharing knowledge, giving constructive feedback and coaching or mentoring others are important people management skills. The questions here will focus on times when you might have supported the development of others or coached a colleague through a difficult problem.

Delivering quality service – It’s essential that you can deliver a high quality of service to clients (both internal and external). They might well ask you to describe a time where you have had to manage multiple tasks and they will need you to tell them about your ability to prioritise and delegate to make sure you deliver the service clients expect.

Problem-solving – They will question you about how you approach a problem and look for evidence of your ability to analyse complex data and reach an appropriate solution.

Professionalism – It goes without saying that acting with integrity and being professional at all times are business-critical requirements. The questions might ask you about a time when you received great client feedback for the quality of work you delivered.

Drive and Resilience – We’ve all faced times when we’ve had to overcome challenges or setbacks to achieve a goal. They will ask you about times when you’ve needed to overcome obstacles or worked under pressure with enthusiasm and a positive attitude.

Feedback and Learning – Most businesses encourage everyone to continuously learn from their experiences and seek out their own development opportunities. The questions here will focus on both your own recent learning experiences and how you’ve encouraged others to learn and develop.

Interpersonal Skills Having the ability to build rapport and relationships with colleagues and clients is a key part of most roles within accountancy. The questions will focus on how you have managed to do this across different levels and they may also focus on when you have struggled to do this and how you have overcome the issue.

Organisation – It is key for you to be organised as an accountant, especially one that works within practice where you are managing a range of different clients and working on multiple projects at any one time. These questions will not just focus on how you manage your own workload but also potential projects and how you may have acquired people and other resources to accomplish a goal.

How to answer a competency-based Interview Question

If you were to type ‘How to answer competency-based questions’ online then you will find 1000s of results from HR and recruitment professionals. Whilst, not every opinion is the same, you will find the majority will advise you to use the ‘STAR’ approach.

S.T.A.R stands for Situation, Task, Action and Result.

  • The ‘Situation and Task’ form the introduction: Here you will describe the situation and the task you were faced with, when did this happen, where were you at the time and who else was involved in the plan?
  • Action: How did you achieve what you needed to? What action did YOU take? Sometimes people focus on what the group did and this makes it difficult for the interviewer to extrapolate your involvement. Make sure you refer to your contribution with statements such as ‘I did this’
  • Result: What results did you achieve? What was the benefit of your involvement? What did you learn from the experience, what may you do differently next time?

By using this structure, you will be able to provide a comprehensive answer and demonstrate to the interview that you can take a considered approach to situations before finding a solution or reaching your objective.

Practice and rehearse your answers 

It is important that any question you answer in an interview is delivered in an articulate manner but it is also important with competency-based answers to ensure that they are detailed and structured in the right way. Try to think of a few examples you can give for each competency and practice them over and over to ensure your delivery is effective

How is the interviewer responding?

As you explain your examples, it is important that you can assess the interviewer’s body language and that you are generating a positive response. If this isn’t the case then be confident enough to ask if the interviewer would like any further examples.

If you are generally struggling to think of an example then make the interviewer aware that you may not have ever faced a certain scenario but if you were faced with a certain situation then explain what you would do so that they are aware you will be able to take action and you have the ability to manage a situation.

Working with Levitate

We appreciate that many of the professionals we work with are experienced in client meetings and can present themselves well. Whilst this is the case, searching for a new job and being interviewed to talk about yourself is a completely different scenario and can be for some, one of the most stressful situations they have faced. Not preparing properly can lead to a lack of confidence and the potential of not being offered the position or perhaps an offer but with a lower salary.

Everyone at Levitate Recruitment has been trained in Interview preparation and will work closely with the professionals we represent to ensure that they have thought about the questions that will be asked and how best they can demonstrate to the interviewer that they should be the preferred applicant and ultimately offered the job.

If you have any questions about the accountancy job market or interview techniques then we would welcome the opportunity to discuss your situation and provide educated advice to make your next step, a well thought out and success assured career move.

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

 

 

Does size matter? How long should a CV be?

The first step in working with someone looking for a new job is to find out about their experience, what they are looking for in their next role and understand their longer-term career aspirations. Following this, I will then review their CV and offer advice as to how they could improve it.

Some already have a CV, some need to update one and for others it is their first time of writing a CV.  The one question I always get asked is, how long should their CV be.

Nine times out of ten I get told that they have heard that their CV shouldn’t be any longer than 2 pages. They have usually read this somewhere or have previously been told this.

If you do a quick internet search, you’ll be amazed how many articles/posts on CV writing advise of a 2-page limit.

I believe that this one bit of advice can be severely detrimental to an individual’s job search.

Can your CV be too long? Yes, it can, but I don’t believe that there is a set page limit which if your CV does not conform to you will not be selected for an interview.

Having recruited for Accountancy Practice and Insolvency professionals for over 11 years, I have received tens of thousands of CVs from those with no working experience through to those with over 30 years of professional experience.

It’s been my experience that some job seekers are actually doing themselves a massive disservice because they badly present their experience or omit relevant information that could potentially be the decision breaker as to whether they are invited for an interview or not.

I believe the misconception of having a CV no longer than 2 pages is partly to blame.

What is the purpose of your CV? 

  • The simplest objective of your CV is to secure you the opportunity to interview for the role you are applying for.
  • It’s an advert of who you are.
  • It’s your opportunity to demonstrate to the reader your career experience.
  • It’s also an opportunity to highlight that you are the right potential hire for them.

Why is it important to get your CV right?

For every job advert, I put out I receive over 20 applications per opportunity. This is also the case for companies who advertise their own roles.

Many applications will not be viable at all, some will instantly stand out as suitable whilst others will not best represent the applicant’s experience, potentially resulting in them missing out on the chance to interview.

With so many applications per role, it is important that you are putting your strongest advert (CV) forward.

How I believe the misguided 2-page limit impacts a CV negatively

Having reviewed thousands of CV’s over the years, I have seen candidates do the following to stick to the 2-page guideline;

  • Not including a personal statement. This is your chance to give the hiring manager a short synopsis of who you are and what you are looking for.
  • Not including enough information about their current/relevant roles. Your current role is one of the most important parts of your CV. Hiring managers after a quick scan of your CV will then study your current role in more detail as it is a significant indicator of your suitability for the role you have applied for. It is key to ensure that you list your most important responsibilities. There may be some role-specific responsivities that you feel are less important or obvious, you should still include these as a hiring manager may assume incorrectly that you don’t do certain things in your role if they are not listed. I’m by no means suggesting that you list ‘Making coffee on an ad hoc basis’ but you should cover the key elements of your role.
  • Leaving previous jobs off their CV. There is an argument that jobs that are not relevant to your current career or next role have little importance. However, I advise that you should include the dates, company and position for all the jobs you have had. You don’t need to add any further information under these roles as to your responsibilities, however, the dates of previous employment will show the reader your career timeline from start to present.
  • Not addressing unexplained gaps in the CV. It’s important to cover any employment gaps in your career history. You may have been travelling, taken a sabbatical, had an illness, had children or even cared for a relative. Unexplained gaps could give the impression to a hiring manager that you did nothing during that time period.
  • Changing the font to a ridiculously small size to condense the CV down. It is pointless investing your time writing your CV to put yourself across in the best possible way if it is difficult to read. I typically suggest a font size between 10-12 dependent upon the font.
  • Not listing software/I.T. skills. There are so many different software packages that are used by different companies. Highlighting the specific software you have experience with can set you apart from other applicants if you have listed a software package that the hiring company uses.
  • Not including work achievements. If you have received any special recognition, awards or have worked on a high-profile assignment then they are definitely worth highlighting to a potential employer.
  • Leaving off personal interests/hobbies. You are not going to be invited to interview based on what you like doing in your spare time, however, I’ve had clients comment on people not having any interests in their CV. They felt that they wanted to see some personality and get a feel for someone from their CV.

Forget the 2-page limit!

CV’s come in all shapes and sizes. Some people like to display the information in a paragraph/essay format and some use bullet points (which is what I recommend). In reality, there is no one size fits all format for CV’s.

I’ve assisted hundreds of professionals to write and amend 1-page CV’s through to 6-page CV’s. The one thing that they all have in common is that the information included has accurately portrayed their experience.

The length of a CV can be dependent upon different factors like the font, font size, formatting and content. The level of content will also differ greatly from someone with 12 months of experience to someone with 15 years.

So, what’s important?

  • The information in your CV needs to be relevant and accurately describe what you currently do and have done in previous related jobs.
  • It should be displayed in a way that makes it easy to read. This includes, how the information is broken down as well as the font size and type used.
  • You should highlight your relevant experience for the types of opportunities you are looking to move into.
  • Don’t be scared to add extra information if you feel it is relevant.

 Do not miss the opportunity to sell yourself.

If you are worried that your CV is too long.

  • Read through your CV and ask yourself if all the information is relevant.
  • Check whether you have duplicated any information.
  • Unless relevant to your current career/role you are applying for there is no need to list what you did in your roles before starting your professional career. Just list the dates, the company and your position.

To conclude; it doesn’t matter if your CV is more than 2-pages. Your CV can be as long as is necessary for you to portray your career experience and suitability for the opportunities you are looking for.

My opinion on CV length is based on my 12 years+ of recruiting for Accountancy Practice and Insolvency professionals. The length of a CV may be more important 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.

 

The ‘Weakness’ Question

I recently read a post that said the weakness question in an interview is not relevant. The premise of the article was that it is a pointless question and that it is none of the interviewer’s business to ask about someone’s weaknesses. The article even suggested that if you get asked this question in an interview you would be well within your rights to walk out of the meeting at that point.

In assisting a significant number of individuals preparing for interviews and speaking with hiring managers over the last 10 years, the weakness question is one that many interviewees are unsure of how to approach.

I believe that it is a blinkered view that the question is irrelevant, as it can be one of the most important questions you can answer.

What is the weakness question?

The weakness question, like “what are your strengths?” is an awareness-based question. If you can identify where your abilities are strong, equally you should be able to identify where they are not an awareness-based question.

Why do interviewers ask it?

Admittedly, there are interviewers that do ask the question just because they see it as a standard interview question.

However, the more astute interviewers ask it because they want to see how someone handles/answers being challenged on a weakness. They are not so much interested in the actual weakness itself but whether the individual is aware of their weakness and what they do/have done about it.

If you are aware of your weaknesses, what are you doing about improving it?

How someone answers this allows the interviewer to assess how the individual will handle criticism/feedback in the role. Those that have identified their weakness and don’t do anything to improve it or make excuses for it demonstrate a different mentality to those that have actively sought to improve their weakness.

Think about it another way

I have assisted hundreds of candidates over the years in preparing for interviews, and once we get to the weakness question circa 90% are unsure as to what they should say. Where they have had an answer almost immediately to all the other questions we have covered, they suddenly start to second guess what they should say.

Over the last couple of years, I’ve changed the way I ask the question from using the word weakness to asking if they have any areas or attributes they could improve.

It seems that people don’t like the word weakness and feel it is a personal attack on them. I noticed a significant difference when I changed the way I asked the question.

If we rank our strengths out of 10, you may rate them at 7, 8 or 9. So if we rank the areas that we need to improve, they may be anywhere from 1-6.

A weakness/area of improvement is never completely solved, all we can do is improve it and it is this that a potential new employer is looking for.

How to answer the question

Choose a weakness where you can demonstrate an improvement.

  • Explain what your weakness is.
  • Explain the negative effect it has.
  • Explain what you have done to improve it.
  • Explain how it has improved.

Tips

  • As with all potential interviews tips, be prepared.
  • Avoid a weakness that is a requirement for the role.
  • Avoid the stereotypical answers i.e. turn a weakness into a strength.
  • Avoid funny answers, i.e. Chocolate is your weakness.

I have never known for someone to be offered a job based on their answer to the weakness question. However, I have had a few experiences of instances where the way someone has responded to the question has cost them the opportunity.

My views are based on my 14 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.

 

 

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.

 

 

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.

 

 

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.

 

 

 

 

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.

 

 

 


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