Every Challenge is an Opportunity…

Every Challenge is an Opportunity…

“Luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity” – Roman philosopher Seneca (and echoed by Oprah and well-known life coach and motivational speakers Tony Robbins).

There’s no doubt that things have changed quite significantly over the past few weeks. If you are an accounting student who is considering your career options, what to do now, and what next steps you need to take, then this is the perfect blog for you to help you to prepare for opportunities now and create more luck for yourself in the future.

Here our team put together THE best advice when it comes to your career….

The Market Right Now

At the moment this is an ever-changing market, with different challenges popping up day-to-day. The market is changing on a daily basis and nothing is straight forward! What you should focus on are things that you can control. This starts with getting well-informed advice on what your next career decisions should look like.

The best advice we can provide right now is to evaluate your own situation before making any decisions surrounding your career. If you are in a stable position it might be best to stay put and weather the storm. This might also be a good time to sit down with your manager and discuss new areas to explore, or solve any issues you generally wouldn’t have time to focus on.

If you do find yourself in an unstable situation with work, don’t panic, again focus on the controllable factors. Also reach out to those who know the market and careers, and ask for their advice. Recruitment consultants are closest to what’s happening out there right now and can be your eyes and ears on the ground.

It’s also the perfect time to get your ducks in a row (see more below) and focus on some key areas like:

  • Preparing and updating your CV, cover letter, LinkedIn profile.
  • Doing some research on interview prep, either in person or by phone or video.
  • Look at potential opportunities in areas you may not have looked at before. For example the part-qualified industry is generally a fast-moving and buoyant market, and as a result tends to adapt well to external influencing factors.

Getting Your Ducks in a Row

One thing we are certain of is that this too will pass. Now that you might have a bit of breathing space use this time positively and productively to get your ducks in a row, so that you are ready to take that perfect opportunity once it comes up.

First things first..

  1. Do the Research

Proactively research what you’d like to focus on. A key consideration is the corporate landscape in order to cultivate a career instead of simply landing in a job.

Consider the following…Practice or industry? What does the career journey look like in each? Financial accounting or would you like to progress down the financial analyst or management accounting route?

On LinkedIn look at the profiles of those whose roles interest you. Check out their career journey to date, including where they came from and what they did to get to where they are now.

Identify what piece(s) of the puzzle are you missing in order to get to where you want to be.

Look into different organisational structures too, which can offer different things. Whether it be working with ERP systems, closely with a qualified Accountant, different entities, currencies etc. suss out where you can get this exposure and experience.

  1. CV Preparation

We could talk all day about CVs…but here are some of our top tips when it comes to CV preparation.

Keep in mind where you want to go and give your CV a spring clean.

Your CV should always be aimed at a specific role. Key words are critical so remember to match those of the job you are targeting. Keep in mind that you may be trying to get past a gatekeeper, so make sure to use the right language!

Context is crucial. Always give information on the company, team structure etc. If the information is relevant put it in and don’t worry if it is over 2 pages. Use metrics to measure your performance where possible (i.e. volumes/values).

It’s best to include less information on the less relevant roles and those in the distant past.

Hobbies, achievements, IT & language skills are a yes. Hiring managers are interested in the person too so make sure to include these.

When it comes to the synopsis at the top of your CV make sure it’s unique to you.

Include a brief summary of your experience to date, and keep to hard skills, not soft skills, this is what interviews are about!

  1. Interview preparation

Get your ‘Tell me about yourself’ spiel down to a tee, so your interview always gets off to a good start.

Interviews nowadays can be quite competency based and preparation is key. A competency is a fundamental skill, capability or aptitude that is required to achieve a required level of performance on the job. You will be faced with either:

Situational based questions – What you would do in a particular situation.​ For example: suppose you observed conflict between team members over the division of work.  What would you do?


Behavioural based questions –  Most interviewers use these. What you did do in a particular situation.​ (past situations). For example: Tell me about a time you helped to solve conflict between team members.

Research and put together a list of competencies which may be tested (job specifications and company cultures/values/mission statement on their website are a good place to start). Review sample questions. Understand what the competencies actually look like in action, and put together a few examples for each using the STAR method. It is tricky to think of them on the spot!

  1. LinkedIn

Get your STAR rating!

  • Get that professional photo up and take down the one with your friends in the pub. Or worse again don’t leave it blank. Is that profile even real?
  • Update all education (stage of exams), work experience and certificates/licences.
  • Build your network of connections in your area.
  • Ask at least 3 people to endorse you or write you a virtual recommendation.
  • Finally switch on open to opportunities!

Working with Recruiters

There are a lot of benefits of partnering with one or two reputable recruiters and not doing so could  mean that you’re missing out on exclusive opportunities, guidance around the interview process and even better negotiations around your terms of employment, all of which come at absolutely no cost to you.

Benefits of Working with Recruiters Especially During This Time

During this time, it would be advisable to engage a few different recruiters, use this as an opportunity to talk through your experience, practice selling yourself/ talking about yourself and your experience and aspirations in a positive way. Even if there aren’t a huge amount of active opportunities at the moment, ask the recruiter to send you a selection of opportunities they’ve worked on in the past 3-6 months so you can review these and see which companies and roles are standing out the most to you.

You’ll find that some recruiters will really take an interest in your career and where you ideally want to be and will help you map out a realistic way to make it there…this is consultancy and these are the recruiters you should be working with. Some other key benefits of partnering with a recruiter or a few carefully selected recruiters are:

  • Greater awareness of opportunities: Many businesses, SMES, large indigenous companies and multinationals use recruiters so they are not inundated with irrelevant CV’s and sometimes do not even advertise themselves. There are also opportunities that are completely confidential whereby a recruiter is appointed to reach out only to registered candidates that match a list of prerequisites. Simply put: If you are not in it, you can’t win it!
  • Our reputation can help get you seen: If your recruiter has a great track record with the company, or team, it can be invaluable to have their endorsement and can sometimes guarantee you a chance to shine at interviews. ‘There is no advertisement as powerful as a positive reputation traveling fast.’ – Brian Koslow
  • Interview preparation: With their client in mind, your recruiter will help you prepare for your interview. This guidance can give you a real edge on your competition.
  • Salary negotiation: A make it or break it moment in any interview process, the uncomfortable salary question is an interviewer favourite that a recruiter can really help you with…to ensure you’re not pricing yourself above or below what is reasonable for that role and company.

Reach Out To Us…We Are Here To Help

In Barden we’re here to listen, help and guide you on the best next steps for your career so please reach out to us. Below you’ll find some info on each of our team who put this blog together for you.

As well as this…

  • We work as consultants – We understand that you may soon feel like you’re drowning in information when you start a job search. We’re here to provide the hard facts on the jobs market, types of roles out there, types of companies, industries….
  • We want you to make an informed decision – It’s important to evaluate all your options before making a decision to move roles (or not). We also work closely with hiring managers and make sure that you have all the valuable information you need to make an informed decision…and ultimately to make the best decision for YOU.
  • We want to build a long term relationship with you – We want to be that Agony Aunt (you know the one you call when you’re having a bad day!) and Barden wants to be there for you throughout your career…from when you’re studying or are in the early stages of your career to when you are Newly Qualified to Post Qualified role to Senior to maybe even CEO or CFO.
  • We love a good cuppa – we’re here to listen to you and understand what you want (they call us champion coffee drinkers for a reason 😉 )

We can’t control when airplanes will fly again but we all can have a positive mindset and put in the time now in order to be ready to put the foot on the accelerator when the time is right!

Reach out to us at hello@barden.ie, or contact one of team using the info below…

Our Team

Tara Higgins, Team Lead in Barden Cork | Expert in AP/AR/Payroll & Part Qualified Accountant Careers | thiggins@barden.ie |

Cliodhna O’Brien, Associate in Barden Cork | Expert in AP/AR/Payroll & Part Qualified Accountant Careers | cobrien@barden.ie

Nicole Carroll, Senior Associate in Barden Dublin | Expert in AP/AR/Payroll & Part Qualified Accountant Careers | ncarroll@barden.ie

Aoibhin Byrne, Associate in Barden Dublin | Expert in AP/AR/Payroll & Part Qualified Accountant Careers |abyrne@barden.ie


A special thanks to CIMA for publishing this piece in the recent Student eNewsletter. See here.

At Barden we invest our resources to bring you the very best insights on all things to do with your professional future. Got a topic you would like us to research? Got an insight you would like us to share with our audience? Drop us a note to hello@barden.ie and we will take it from there. Easy.