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Job and Industry Resources for
Finance & Accounting Careers

Finance & Accounting

Launching a successful career in accounting - or in any area of finance, for that matter - takes more than just skill with numbers. Whether you're balancing the books at a large corporation, managing risk for small businesses, guiding investors toward profitable stocks, helping young people finance home purchases, adjusting insurance deductibles, or preparing consumers' taxes, you'll also need access to a strong network of other professionals - both financial and otherwise. Read on to find out how to get your own professional network off the ground - and how to take advantage of the benefits it can bring your way.

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Inquire into organizations

Even if you're just starting out in your financial career, you can do yourself a long-term favor by investing a little time in investigating professional associations, societies and other organizations that cater to the needs of finance and accounting professionals. Some specialize in providing continuing education; some in legal advocacy; some in insurance - and some in all these types of benefits and more. Though you may not need any of these resources right now, you never know when they might come in handy for you down the road.

A number of associations cover the needs of workers throughout many sectors of the finance industry - the Association for Financial Professionals and the Society of Financial Service Professionals are two of the best known. Many others, meanwhile, serve professionals in a particular financial niche. The Society of Actuaries offers career services to actuarial experts; the American Bankers Association represents those who work in banking; the Financial Planning Association works with financial planners; and the Market Technicians Association provides benefits to those who perform technical analysis of financial markets.

Some professional organizations specialize continuing education; some in legal advocacy; some in insurance...

You can track down many more professional organizations - including some that focus on your own area of finance - by running some quick Google searches for terms like "risk management association," "insurance professionals organization," or "accounting professional society" - substituting your own specialty as needed. As you skim each organization's list of member benefits and services, bookmark the websites of those that look like they could help you - either in the immediate future, or as you progress in your career.

Leverage job-search services

Aside from your school's career office, you've got two main types of avenues for job searching in the finance world: Job boards and staffing firms. Both types of services bring their own advantages and disadvantages - and you'll probably find that you get the best results by combining both of them with the other networking strategies detailed in this article.

The main advantage of a staffing firm is that - because they earn a commission on every employee they're able to place - they'll keep searching until they've either found you a job or run out of clients to contact. The main disadvantage of this approach is that each firm has only so many clients in its contact list.

While some staffing firms in the financial industry - such as Abacus Group and Harrison, Stone & Associates - recruit for positions at all levels, and in many sectors, others cater to more specific segments of the job market. Acumen Resources, for instance, focuses on actuarial recruiting, Commodity Talent helps commodity specialists find work, Dynamics Associates targets positions in investment banking, and Contemporary Services seeks out openings in the lending sector. Try running some Google searches for terms like (for example) "actuary recruiter" or "corporate accounting staffing firm" to see which firms work with professionals in your area of the finance industry.

While some staffing firms recruit for positions in many sectors, others cater to more specific segments of the job market.

Unlike staffing firms, job boards are largely do-it-yourself - but once you've gotten some experience using their search features, you'll be able to scan for new jobs on a whole list of these websites, any time you want - and pounce on juicy opportunities as soon as they pop up. Some of these websites may also offer you access to salary guides and employment info for your profession. Data like this can come in very handy for career planning and interview leverage - but be wary of attempts to charge you for it. The website of the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS.gov) offers many of these same stats for free - so don't hand over your credit card or other personal info unless you're certain you're gaining access to exclusive, actionable data.

Much like recruiting firms, some job boards - such as FinancialJobs.com and the Banking & Financial Services Career Network - cover a wide variety of financial subfields, while others limit their focus more tightly. BankJobs.com, InsuranceJobs.com, TaxTalent.com, and BrokerHunter.com, for example, all target exactly the specialties their names suggest. And as with recruiting firms, you can turn up job boards that specialize in your own area by running some precisely-worded Google searches.

Build up your (social) network

While you're waiting for a call back from a search firm, or a promising posting on one of the job boards you're watching, you can expand your web of professional connections - and maybe stumble across some new opportunities in the process - by joining some communities on the same social-networking websites you already use to stay in touch with your friends. Facebook and LinkedIn are both packed with groups full of fellow financial professionals, who can help keep you up to date on industry news, answer your technical questions - and maybe even benefit from your own expertise.

Facebook groups like "Accountancy Problems" and "Insurance Adjusters," along with the LinkedIn group "Finance Club" (including its large subgroup, "Accounting Professionals"), all act as major hubs of online information on the finance industry - as well as communities for finance professionals to dialogue and network. And these examples provide only a small taste of what's out there.

Finding groups targeted at your own financial specialty is easy: Just start typing a relevant keyword into the website's search box, and choose a selection from the results that drop down. Facebook offers the option to "Find all groups named...," while LinkedIn allows you to narrow your search to groups that include people in your network, or that focus on your own geographical area. Follow the page suggestions on these websites, and you'll soon be on your way to finding groups filled with financial professionals of your own stripe.

Distinguishing worthwhile social-network groups from time-wasters just takes a few simple checks...

Distinguishing worthwhile groups from time-wasters just takes a few simple checks: How recent are the latest postings - and how far apart are they? Are they mostly originating from the same person, or from a variety of people? Do discussion threads go on for a while, or do they peter out after a few comments? Do questions get answered - or at least responded to - in a timely manner?

All these checks can save you from joining a time-wasting community - but one thing that should never discourage you is the fact that a given group is marked "private" or "closed." For obvious reasons, many groups that discuss financial matters are closed to the general public; but if you submit a request to join, the admins may surprise you by granting you access to their exclusive network of experts.

Once you've gained access to the benefits of professional organizations, the insights offered by staffing firms and job databases, and the support of a community of fellow financial professionals, you'll be well on your way to building up the network you need. From that point on, your success depends on how effectively you put those resources to use - which, of course, is up to you. But with the info you'll have gained from these sources, you'll be well-positioned to stay a step ahead of your competitors.

Helpful links

Association of Financial Professionals (AFP) -- Breaking news, continuing education and job-search information for those who work in any area of the finance industry.

FinancialJobs.com -- A large job-search website for degreed professionals in all areas of finance.

Accounting Career Network -- A nationwide association of executive recruiters specializing in accounting, tax, audit and financial services - whose website includes a job database.

You may also be interested in resources under Business Administration.

Visit our Career Research Center to learn more about jobs, salaries, and employment growth in various business fields, including accounting, bookkeeping, financial advisors, and budget analysts.