Tuesday 28 April 2015

What are recruiters looking for in their graduate tax professionals – could it be you?

For the recently graduated, you’ve weathered long nights of study and emerged triumphant, armed with all the makings of an accomplished tax professional. So how can you ensure you have the opportunity to turn this dream into a well-paying reality?
What tax recruiters are looking for
The Big Four cite educational diversity, ambition and a passion to contribute (and evolve) in the workplace as the most coveted traits of a graduate tax professional. Studying the candidate-selection process used by the firms you apply to can be indicative of the skills they prioritise, and therefore the skills you should underscore during the application process.
While selection methods will vary from firm to firm, you can expect the standard process to include a series of interviews, face-to-face assessments and a test of applied skill, such as a case study, to determine your eligibility. Specifically, your would-be employers are looking to gauge:
  • Why you chose to apply for the role, including demonstrating what knowledge you have of the firm.
  • Your communication and time-management skills.
  • Your literacy and numeracy levels.
  • Your personality, including your teamwork skills and leadership potential.
Increasing your odds
Beyond having an impeccable CV, being versed in industry news and proactively networking at career events, there are a few things that will help you better prepare:
  • During the job-application process, make notes on each company’s organisational structure. Should you be successful and progress to the interview stage, this material will be important to convey not only your readiness to progress, but your interest in the firm. Specifically, what is your pathway to progress and what in-company learning programs are available?
  • Behavioural questions are a favourite among recruiters to judge your personal skills. These are often situational-based with answers that reflect how well you handle tense situations. An example would include: “Tell me how you solved a problem that had a particularly time-sensitive deadline?" Respond to these questions using the STAR technique: situation, task, action, result. Contextualise your answer, outline what was required of you, define what course of action you took and how it played out. This will help keep your answer robust, but concise.
  • An eagerness to undertake further education, particularly those courses that feature practical skills such as the Graduate Diploma of Applied Tax Law, is a pursuit well-received by employers. This is a trait that helps demonstrate your dedication, determination to succeed and budding management skills.
While qualifications alone are not the golden key to your first job, they do equip you with a number of desirable traits that employers are looking for. Take note on how you can improve during the selection process and bolster your chances of taking home the prize.
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