The Barden Career Guide Blog Series...Job context is key...
The 4th edition of the Barden Career Guide Blog Series looks at job context. The series is a collection of short and practical career guides for accounting and tax professionals, who are looking to take control of their career and professional future.
To make a wise career move, you need to understand fully what’s on the cards.
Once you’ve developed a clear understanding of the organisational structure and your position in it, it’s time to get into the detail of what you do in your company and what you’d like to do in another company – the day job, so to speak. It’s easier said than done, however!
Different companies call the same jobs and job activities by different names. Job specs can lack detail around hierarchy, division of labour and weighting towards different types of activity. So can CVs for that matter. In the paragraphs that follow, we’ll move beyond assessing opportunities on the basis of job titles and define a common language for the activities of an accounting department.
We’ll also provide you with a few tools and tricks to better describe your experience, assess potential opportunities and, again, understand what’s more and less likely in your next move. This will allow you to look differently at the job you now have, and how it relates to the job you aspire to.
The Perils of Job Titles
Unfortunately, people don’t spend a lot of time looking at the detail. Candidates scan job specs and make decisions based on key words, especially job titles. HR managers will likely review hundreds of CVs a day and will make fast calls based on a quick scan of a document. Hiring managers might review a small volume of CVs, but they often do it on top of their day job – they rarely have time to pour over the detail.
Candidates, HR managers and hiring managers place an over-reliance on job titles – not all of them, but enough to matter. When looking for a financial analyst, a hiring manager might discount a candidate with a job title of ‘financial accountant’ and vice versa. People are busy and more often than not, make decisions based on very little information. People that don’t understand the detail will almost definitely make snap decisions based on tiny details like job titles.
In accounting and finance, similar jobs will have different job titles. What one company calls a ‘financial accountant’, another might call a ‘management accountant’ and another might call a ‘GL accountant’. Candidates will, of course, put their actual job title in their CV (what their current manager calls what they do) and hiring managers will put a title on a job spec that fits other titles in their company.
The problem arises when these two worlds collide. A candidate can overlook a relevant job opportunity because the job title means something different in their experience. Likewise, a hiring manager can reject a CV because the candidate’s current job title means something different in their company. In an ideal world, we’d title jobs in a standard way – a way that reflects the context and content of the role; a way that would be understood by all. It would be a universal label or language for job titles.
Unfortunately, that world is a long way off. In the meantime, be tactical and use this knowledge to your advantage. Take care when you create your CV or write a job spec that you use a job title that best reflects what the market calls the job. Be cautious when reviewing a CV or job spec that you don’t judge a book by its cover.
The Danger is in the Detail
Job titles are perilous enough, but it gets worse when you dive into the detail and actual activities of a CV or job spec. Companies tend to speak their own language and use their own specific acronyms when describing the activities of a particular job. Let’s take an example: the payments process. Depending on where you work, the payments process can be described as accounts payable, AP, purchase to pay, P2P, PTP, payables, payments, invoicing and even bookkeeping. It’s a simple process with a lot of different names!
It’s therefore easy to miss an opportunity through an overly narrow keyword search, or be overlooked because you listed “invoicing” but not “accounts payable” or “AP” in your profile or CV. And it gets even more complicated when you get into more value-add activities. Now that you’re aware of the dangers, be tactical as to how you address them in the context of your unique situation.
Weighting of Your Time
Universal job titles and a common language for activities would go a long way towards solving this problem, but not far enough. Two job specs can read exactly the same, but the percentage of time spent on certain activities might vary. A role that’s 90% financial accounting and 10% forecasting/analysis is very different to a role that’s 10% financial accounting and 90% forecasting/analysis. However, you might not be able to judge the weighting by the job spec and the same goes for CVs.
So, weight the time spent on different activities in your document as best you can, and seek weighting before applying for a job or inviting a candidate to interview.
Take care when you create your CV or write a job spec that you use a job title that best reflects what the market calls the job. Be cautious when reviewing a CV or job spec that you don’t judge a book by its cover.
Curious about how you can accelerate your career planning? Get in touch with our expert accounting and tax recruitment team today at email@example.com who will gladly meet your for a coffee and chat, and who are ready with lots of CV, LinkedIn, interview and career advice, along with cutting edge market insights.
Barden Career Guide Blog Series
The Barden Career Guide Blog Series is a collection of short and practical career guides for accountancy and tax professionals. We developed these in partnership with Accountancy Ireland, specifically for accountants. They are designed to help you make more informed decisions about your career, and ultimately achieve your career goals!
Each week we’ll issue a new blog, introducing a different lens through which to assess both yourself and the market (internally or externally) in the context of your professional career.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org and we will take it from there!