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.

 

 

 

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

 

 

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.

 

How to handle a telephone interview

Telephone interviews have always been a big part of the recruitment process for those looking to make an international move, however, we have seen an increase in the number of our clients in the UK requesting an initial telephone interview with prospective employees.  In a competitive market, they see them as an opportunity to speed up the recruitment process. It is often quicker and easier to arrange a telephone call than it is to align diaries to meet face to face.

As well as fast-tracking the recruitment process it also allows the employer the opportunity to assess an individual’s viability for their opportunity before committing to a face to face interview. They are an easy way for companies to cut down the number of applicants.

The questions are usually more general than in a face to face interview and will be a chance for you to really sell yourself. The key is to treat a telephone interview just like any other interview. Below are some suggestions to help you make the most of the opportunity.

Prepare!

One of the biggest advantages of a telephone interview is that you don’t have to be seen. This is particularly useful if you’re nervous because there won’t be any issues with body language.

It also means you can have notes prepared to give you a quick reference point. Write down a list of your skills and the answers to any potential questions you might be asked. However, be careful not to sound like you are reading or shuffling papers around.

Practice your telephone manner

We all speak on the phone quite a lot, whether this is in a professional setting or not. However, that doesn’t necessarily mean we have a good telephone manner. If you have concerns about the way you conduct yourself on the phone, practice with a friend in advance so you can nail the professional phone voice. Alternatively, record yourself speaking and listen for any issues of clarity or pronunciation.

Where you sit for the interview can make a massive difference. It can be tempting to slouch on the sofa, but this has an effect on your breathing, which in turn affects your speech. Sit at a table or desk with your back straight, and speak with a calm, clear voice. If you think you have issues with your pace, speak slower than you think is acceptable. It’s all too common to speed up when you’re nervous.

A tip I was given a long time ago was to smile whilst talking on the phone to clients and candidates. When you smile whilst talking your voice can sound warmer and friendlier.

Be professional

As much in the same way as dressing appropriately for a face to face interview you should ensure that you are all set up and ready for the incoming call.

This might only be the first stage, but showing your professionalism now is a good way to stand out from the crowd. It almost goes without saying, but make sure there are no distracting noises (TV, pets etc) in the background, and that you have a good signal on your phone.

In conclusion

Listen carefully to their questions, and don’t be afraid to ask them to repeat something if you missed it. Make sure you don’t become too casual while talking and keep your answers short and sweet. It can be all too easy to forget who you’re talking to during a telephone interview. If appropriate, take notes during the call so you can be ready to ask any questions at the end.

At Levitate Recruitment, we think every stage is important, and so we’ve provided these tips to help you excel. As always, research the company and be prepared with any information that might be relevant. It’s always better to have too much than too little.

My opinion is based on my 14 years+ of recruiting for Accountancy Practice and Insolvency professionals across the UK and Overseas.

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.

 

 

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.

 

Tips on handing in your notice

Handing in your notice can be both a great and awful experience. Whether you’re moving on to your dream job or you’ve just had enough of your current role, it can be easy to use your notice period as a time to not adhere to rules and to tell them what you really think. However, it’s always best to remain professional.

Here are a few tips to help you when handing in your notice.

Write a resignation letter

A resignation letter is one of the few documents you should still deliver by hand, rather than email, and this is for a number of reasons.

Firstly, it’s always best to make sure it’s been received, and it gives you a chance to discuss things further with your boss.

There’s no need to go into too much detail in a resignation letter. In fact, you need little more than to notify them that you intend to leave the business state your notice period.

It’s not necessary to state why you’re leaving, but feel free to include this information if you wish – just keep it professional.

It’s always worth including a thank you for the opportunities they’ve given you, even if you didn’t enjoy the job. After all, you might need a reference from them in the future.

Choose the right time

Picking the right time to hand in your notice makes all the difference to the reaction. Try to avoid busy or stressful periods, as you don’t want an over negative reaction to your news. Try to pick a quiet time of the week that will give you plenty of chance to discuss the matter in detail. The more respectful you are in dealing with the situation, the better the reaction is likely to be.

Prepare what you’re going to say

Knowing what to say when resigning can be difficult, especially if you have a good relationship with your employer. It’s worth practicing in advance or writing down the main points you wish to discuss. Whatever you choose to say, keep your emotions in check and remain professional. If your boss chooses to take your resignation badly, the worst thing you can do is rise to it.

If your reasons for leaving the company are negative, then choose your words very carefully. It’s not unreasonable for a boss to react badly to negative feedback about their company or management style. Consider phrases such as “the role just isn’t for me” or “I think it’s time I explored opportunities elsewhere.” If they ask for more information don’t feel obligated to give it. After all, you’re the one in control of this situation.

Be aware

This is often the time when your employer will tell you that they can resolve all your concerns, increase your salary or offer you the ‘world’ so you will stay.

Remember, you are handing your notice in as you have already gone through the decision-making process to find a new job. You have met with new companies and established that you can advance your career elsewhere.

Don’t let your employer’s reactive response to you leaving stop you from progressing your career. We have seen it time and time again, that those who decide to stay based on promises made when handing their notice in are typically looking to leave again within 6 months.

The main thing to remember when handing in your notice is always to remain professional. It’s much better to leave a job with your head held high than to voice your true feelings. Leaving a good last impression makes all the difference and will work in your favour in the long run.

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.

 


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