Deborah Walker
CPA Job Search Survival 2009

Are you up to speed?

March 19, 2009
by Deborah Walker, CCMC

Undoubtedly, this is the toughest year on record to land a new job. As a CPA or financial executive, reaching your career goal will take courage and nerves of steel. Are you up to the challenge?

Here are four tips for job-search endurance that will keep you on the right track toward your employment goal.

  1. Keep your career goal realistic.

    This is not the time to strike out in a risky career direction. Following your heart toward a career in which you have little qualifications could yield months of frustration as you find yourself competing against legions of candidates far more qualified. Unless you are in the position to hold out for a very long job search, concentrate on positions where you are best qualified.
  2. Realize it will take longer to land your next position.

    If you've never experienced a lengthy job search, set your expectations out several months and practice patience. Expect to apply for many positions as the perfect candidate and get no response. Also expect to conduct perfect interviews and hear nothing back. Just remember that eventually the right company with the right job at the right time will come your way if you stay calm and focused and don't let discouragement keep you from moving forward. Just keep with it.
  3. Write a better résumé than your competition.

    Less jobs and more applicants equals extremely high competition. The quality of your résumé has never been more important. For the best possible résumé keep these guidelines in mind:
    • Focus your résumé. Avoid a one-size-fits-all résumé.
    • Showcase your best information in the top half of page one.
    • Include accomplishments that illustrate your ability to solve today's business challenges.
  4. Sharpen your interview skills.

    With employers interviewing only the best of the best, when you are selected for an interview, be sure you are your competitive best. You CANNOT "just wing" an interview and expect to be called back for a second. Today it takes solid interview strategy to earn a second round of interviews. Interview books are helpful, but they usually fall short of teaching you how to read the interviewer's mind to understand his/her hiring motivations. A study in the art of selling is more effective to achieve great interview performance. A few basic selling strategies include:

    • Asking the right questions to understand the interviewer's "hot button" motivations.
    • Formulating answers around the interviewer's motivations.
    • Knowing your accomplishments well enough to weave them effectively through your interview to achieve top candidate status.


Throughout 2009, the best jobs will go to those who persevere and stay focused. Keeping your expectations and goals realistic will help prevent the emotional ups and downs. Prepare for your job search as if you were competing in a marathon. With patience, endurance and skill you will win your next job.

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Deborah Walker, CCMC, is a career coach who works with recent college graduates preparing them to compete in the toughest job markets. Her clients gain top performing skills in résumé writing, interview preparation and salary negotiation.