An interview with Rich Davenall

Rich is a Recruitment Manager for Reed Accountancy and our UK PQ Brand Manager.

Rich has been recruiting into the accountancy industry since 2007, operating on permanent and interim posts in the part-qualified and non-qualified accounting sectors.

We caught up with Rich to ask him what makes a part-qualified candidate marketable, and how they should present themselves best when looking for work.

What makes a good part-qualified jobseeker stand out from the rest?

A strong part-qualified accountant should be able to clearly articulate a high level of technical understanding surrounding accounts preparation, any specialism in which they are working, and an overall appreciation for how their work affects the larger business environment.

They will need to understand how systems can be used to maximise efficiencies, how procedural improvements can aid the accuracy of month-end reporting, and why their skills can be of use to prospective employers over the coming years.

A good PQ will require a strong record of exam passes over recent years, with a good degree of consistency and commitment to their study programme – i.e. not pausing for too long at any point. Coupled with this, consistency of employment is critical.

How can a part-qualified jobseeker demonstrate that they can add value to a potential employer?

Once individuals reach PQ level, they are expected to start demonstrating achievements within their current and previous posts, and how they feel these could benefit other commercial (or Practice) environments. An indication of project involvement, be it systems implementation (and setup of chart of accounts), re-coding exercises or the introduction of improved controls (to any section) can demonstrate a technical knowledge that can be re-applied in any environment, showing transferrable skills to prospective employers.

Simple basics such as an inquisitive, engaging approach to business relationships should not be ignored. Aged stereotypes of Accountants who hide in back-offices and crunch numbers have faded quickly over recent years, and applicants are therefore expected to approach interviews with an open, conversational manner that creates discussion on key issues, and facilitates a level of understanding and trust between client and candidate. 

Is there anything in particular that PQs should include or leave out of their CV?

To paraphrase, content is king. A strong PQ is expected to include plenty of detail within their CV, outlining not only key responsibilities, but also the procedures undertaken to reach reporting stage, and similar. Agencies and clients can then filter out any non-critical information; rather than having to search extensively for such information.

A PQ should include any related extra-curricular activities, courses and interests, without divulging irrelevant personal information that may cloud their understanding of the presentation of a formal CV. 

How knowledgeable should a PQ be of a potential employer's industry sector before attending an interview?

All applicants are expected to demonstrate a solid understanding of the industry and operations of a prospective employer, but this does increase with the level of seniority of post applied to. This relates particularly to the level of operational involvement within the role – the more this increases, the more one is expected to show understanding of how their work is determined by, and affects, the wider business.

Where a PQ takes involvement in budget preparation, variance analysis, sales / cost analysis or similar, they are immediately interacting with non-finance stakeholders, and as such need to understand how these people operate, and which key business drivers they will be focusing on. To fail to address such aspects at interview for a PQ job would be to miss a crucial opportunity to demonstrate awareness and insight beyond process level.

Differing industries can place hugely variant importance upon different aspects of financial reporting – take the contrasts between manufacturing and financial services as an example – and therefore demonstrable understanding of the relevant impacts become imperative in order to impress.


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