Tuesday 30 August 2016

How to network as a graduate student

As a recent graduate, armed with a catalogue of up-to-date theoretical knowledge in your back pocket, you have the unique ability to solve problems that even veterans of the game might have trouble with. However, your first networking event can be a bit daunting.

Networking is a vehicle that can potentially accelerate your career faster than anything else. However, you need to take the correct approach from the outset. Here are the dos and don'ts of networking as a graduate student.

While your main aim for the evening might be to speak with the top dog at a networking event, that doesn’t mean you need to go in all guns blazing. Remember, this is a cocktail event and you are here to socialise first and foremost. Solidifying working relationships should be natural, not forced.

Be genuine and approachable
To ensure you have the right approach to the night, try to connect with people on a personal level. People respond to passion, so approach your colleagues on a common ground. The more compelling and believable the information you share, the more likely they will be to respond with the same enthusiasm. They may even remember you by the association you create: “Joe is passionate about charity in Brazil and studies tax accountancy.”

Be specific
When you do manage to lock down your ideal target – such as an executive of a top-tier firm – it’s important to be genuine as well as specific. The typical day-to-day role of an executive often means they are thinking about any number of things at one time, ranging from the present state of their business to forecasting several years in advance. It’s safe to say that their thought processes are in a big-picture capacity.

Create a memorable impression by providing them with something tangible to consider. Are you looking for an internship over the summer break or a graduate position? What is it you can offer them, and how might they benefit from accepting your proposal? Whatever it may be, ensure you arrive prepared and capitalise on your moment.

You might have a few industry heavyweights in your sights at the start of the night, but that doesn’t mean you should exclude any connections that aren't the top dogs. A diverse network of connections – consisting of a range of job titles, industries and locations – could offer opportunities for your career that you never quite envisioned. Remember the old adage: “It’s not what you know but who you know.” You just never know how or how well people at a networking event are connected.

Follow through
Once you have made a lasting impression, it’s important to enforce your credibility with the follow-up. If you have locked in a proposal or a catch-up over coffee, delivering on that commitment acts as a guarantor for your reputation. A strong reputation in the industry can do wonders in building the confidence others have in your abilities. Reputation is lasting and can offer you rewards well beyond one night’s interaction.

A successful evening of networking can have immediate as well as long-term benefits for your tax career. As long as you enter the night with enthusiasm and a firm approach in mind, it could be what sets your career in motion.
 Student membership
Give yourself the edge with free Student Membership
If you are a tertiary education student, 
The Tax Institute can help you progress in your career journey.
Find out about 
Student Membership.

Tuesday 23 August 2016

5 early career milestones you should aim to hit

It’s never too early to start identifying or striving to reach career milestones. Here are five classic career goals you should aim to achieve during your first few years as a graduate.

1. Get really good at what you do
It doesn’t matter which tax courses you’ve completed at university or how much you think you know, as a new employee you’ll quickly become aware of just how much you need to learn. Seize every opportunity you can to broaden your knowledge, including gaining insight from bosses and colleagues, as well as sharpening your skills from the taxation education your employer offers. One day you’ll wake up and think to yourself, “You know, I’m now actually pretty good at my job.”

2. Get that first promotion (and the second and third)
No matter how minor it is, that first title bump creates the momentum that will hopefully push you all the way to the top of the tax industry. Don’t waste a minute starting your ascent up the ladder.

3. Work overseas
Take advantage of being young – and relatively commitment-free if you’re working for a firm that offers overseas postings. Aside from the excitement of living somewhere such as New York or London, you’ll develop a new maturity and a broader, well-rounded outlook on life and work.

4. Manage others
Once you’ve learnt how to manage yourself, you’ll face the much more complicated task of managing others, which, depending on how good you are at it, can be either incredibly frustrating or wildly rewarding. Remember that if you’re good at managing yourself and your workload, you can always rely on having a job. But if you have the far rarer skill of also being good at managing others, you can rely on having a highly paid and high-powered executive position.

5. Add to your qualifications and expand your skill set
After spending almost a couple of decades in full-time education, it can be tempting to take a long sabbatical from studying and focusing on gaining real-world experience. However, you’re unlikely to reach many of the future milestones if you don’t expand your skill set, either by undertaking further tax training in the form of a CTA1, CTA2A, CTA2BCTA3, Graduate Diploma of Applied Tax Law or Master of Taxation, or by pursuing qualifications in complementary fields, such as people management.

In today’s crowded workforce, you need to demonstrate you’re a go-getter from the get-go. While you don’t need to adopt all the milestones suggested above, you should have a clear set of goals you’re actively working towards if you want to reach your full potential.
 Studying with The Tax Institute
Take the next step in your tax career with the Graduate Diploma of Applied Tax Law

Find out more by visiting the website or calling 1300 TAX EDU (1300 829 338)

Tuesday 16 August 2016

4 tips to help you avoid becoming a workaholic

It’s only natural to want to make a great impression at work, particularly when your career is just beginning. But you’ll only sabotage your future prospects if you burn the candle at both ends. Here are four tips for getting your work done on time while still maintaining a good work-life balance.

1. Time management
The 2014 Australian Work and Life Index revealed that more than half of full-time workers feel rushed at work. For accounting and tax professionals, this can become a major issue during the busy end-of-financial-year season.

You can avoid this trap by creating a prioritised task list each morning. This will make you better at setting goals and priorities, and you’ll also feel the buzz of accomplishment each time you tick off an item.

2. Delegation
Taking on as much as possible might earn you points in the short term, but it’s also the surest way to burn yourself out. The delegation goes hand in hand with good time management – it’s hard to achieve one without the other.

Start by looking at your key strengths. If you’re good at leadership, ask if you can do more project-management tasks, leaving the number crunching to others. And don’t be shy about seeking help – asking questions shows you are willing to learn and improve.

3. Set boundaries
The Work and Life Index also found that nearly a third of full-time employees regularly sacrifice personal time for work duties. There will be periods when the team has to clock up extra hours to meet a tight deadline, but if you’re always the last person to leave the office, you may be putting your health and relationships at risk. Remember that a good career isn’t just about a good salary – it should also give you time to enjoy the rewards.

4. Switch off
Just as your phone’s battery needs to be recharged regularly, so do your own. After you leave work, let calls go to voicemail and try not to check your email until the next day unless you’re monitoring an urgent issue. Downtime at work is also very important. You can keep alert and productive by spending at least 10 minutes every hour away from your desk – preferably outdoors where you can get some exercise and sunlight.

Your life shouldn’t be all work and no play. Maintaining a good work-life balance is simply good for your health – and your career.

Give yourself the edge with free Student Membership
If you are a tertiary education student, The Tax Institute can help you progress in your career journey.
Find out about StudentMembership.

Tuesday 9 August 2016

5 essential business skills to be noticed by employers

How would you design a phone for deaf people? How many piano tuners are there in Melbourne? How heavy is the Empire State Building? And how would you answer these seemingly impossible questions if asked in actual interviews?

The last one is a question worth pondering if you want to demonstrate your own potential to prospective employers – they are undoubtedly looking for more than just academic achievement in your taxation course.

Mastery of your tax training is just the starting point for recruiters looking to hire the best talent. Companies are on the hunt for well-rounded, business-savvy agents capable of looking beyond trade technicalities. Here’s our list of five of the most important qualities employers value in their people.

1. Problem solvers
The questions posed above invite interviewees to demonstrate their creative ability to overcome workplace challenges and problems, and how to adapt to changing circumstances or the unexpected.
Thinking about instances in your life where you have been flexible in solving a problem can be a good starting point when it comes to showing employers you can think on your feet.

2. Effective organisers
Good organisation is key to being able to manage projects, making it a fundamental skill for any new recruit to demonstrate. The ability to break down a large project into separate stages, estimate the work and time required, delegate work and keep projects on track, on time and on budget is a core competency for larger firms especially.

3. Digital savviness
A basic requirement among management recruits is proficiency in a range of core software. Spreadsheets are fundamental to tax and accounting, but understanding shortcuts and being able to manipulate data quickly will help you stand out as a future high-flyer.
Database management and the ability to use data-visualisation tools have also emerged as important skill sets to possess as data becomes more central to every organisation.

4. Commercial smarts
Understanding what makes the wider industry in which you work tick, and where the sector is going, demonstrates your ability to look beyond your tax training and marks you out as one to watch. It shows initiative, appreciation of the bigger picture and engagement with the tax and accounting world beyond just your taxation education.

5. Good communicators
A study among 50,000 company recruiters revealed that communication skills were the most important factor in hiring managers. Learning to work effectively by listening carefully and speaking and writing effectively is a skill you can consciously improve.

Mastering your ability to work with clients and colleagues is just as important as mastering your taxation education to ensure you enjoy an effective and long career.
 Student Membership
Give yourself the edge with free Student Membership
If you are a tertiary education student, The Tax Institute can help you progress in your career journey.
Find out about StudentMembership.

Tuesday 2 August 2016

The best tax industry resources to keep you in the loop

Tax is a dynamic, constantly evolving field where tax professionals need to stay up to date with the latest developments in order to provide clients with quality advice. So where should you go to keep up with industry news? Here’s a rundown of the best resources that will help you stay informed.

Industry organisations
Member-based organisations are a great source for industry news and analysis. The Tax Institute publishes a range of journals and newsletters that cater to a variety of market needs, providing the latest news, practical solutions to tax issues and discussions on tax policy and systems:

Government agencies
Visit the sites of the federal and state government agencies and subscribe to their e-lists for news on laws, rulings and policy issues.

The Australian Taxation Office’s (ATO) website is an extremely useful direct source to the latest on public rulings, determinations, ATO interpretative decisions, tax, superannuation and related legislation.
Become familiar with the website’s content as part of building your own research practice.

The Treasury, as the government’s central policy agency for whole-of-economy issues including 
taxation, is another valuable resource. Set up an email subscription or RSS and Twitter feeds to keep up with the latest information on policy changes.

Networking sites and online communities
Sites like LinkedIn, Facebook, and the Institute’s eCommunities offer an informal and interactive way to stay in tune with industry news, trends and important insights from the tax community.

Industry publications
Take advantage of your university library’s subscriptions to industry publications such as:
  • Thomson Reuters Latest Tax News: A daily report on tax changes, ATO announcements, updates on legislation, cases, appeals and rulings as well as summaries of tax issues covered in the national and local press.
  • Thomson Reuters inTAX: A monthly magazine featuring technical articles, current tax issues, and hot tax topics.
  • LexisNexis Legal Newsletters and Legal Express: Bulletins and daily email alerts on the latest cases, legislation and journal articles. 
  • CCH Daily Email Alert: Covering the key developments in tax and accounting.
  • CCH Tax Chat: A free blog on a comprehensive suite of tax-related topics.
Major tax and accounting firms
The major firms all publish online articles and commentary on current tax issues. Stay in the loop with an RSS feed, or follow these:
Online news sources
Tax-News.com covers news on tax, e-commerce, legal issues, political developments and economic issues for over 250 offshore jurisdictions or tax havens.

The Conversation is an independent source of news and views on a broad range of topics. Join and follow tax topics or set up RSS feeds or daily email alerts. The Conversation provides easy-to-follow explanations of complex topics – this is a great communication style to adopt when providing advice to clients. 

Keeping up to date with your own research is an essential career-long practice that will help you lead a successful professional life. The sources provided here will help you stay on top of the latest news, changes to law and market issues to maintain your industry savvy.
Give yourself the edge with free Student Membership
If you are a tertiary education student, The Tax Institute can help you progress in your career journey.
Find out about Student Membership.