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How to Get an Accounting Job Over 50
While preconceptions and stereotypes about older workers do exist, often it’s the older job hunter who builds the biggest barriers. You bring a wealth of experience to the job. Even if it’s not directly in the field of accounting, you have a number of transferrable skills that employers crave, such as a stable work ethic, the ability to communicate well with all kinds of people, and an understanding of the chain of command. At 50, you still have a good 15 to 20 years to give to an employer if you sell yourself appropriately.
Rely on Experience
Most any kind of financial background can get you a job as a tax preparer. With a bachelor’s degree and a few years in a financial position, you can land a seasonal position with one of the numerous tax-preparation services that pop up between January and April. Once you’ve spent a season doing taxes, you can parlay that experience into a full-time job with a company as a bookkeeper or accounting clerk. Conversely, you may want to stick with the tax service in a full-time capacity in those locations that remain open year-round.
Call On Your Contacts
You don’t need more than a high school diploma to work as a bookkeeper or accounting clerk, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. When you are job hunting, it’s not a time to be modest or shy. Pull out your list of contacts you’ve made through the years and ask them if they know anyone who may be hiring. Contact your personal and professional networks to put out the word that you are looking for a job in accounting.
Boost Your Credentials
If you have little financial experience, take an accounting class at the community college and join a professional organization such as the American Institute of Professional Bookkeepers. You can network through the group, attend seminars and get certified. The Certified Bookkeeper designation shows employers that you are serious about your new career goals and willing to take the steps to ensure your skills are fresh and current.
Visit a Placement Firm
Job-placement firms are ideal for job hunters with a broad financial background. Look for a firm that specifically works with CPAs and accounting professionals to get the most traction from your efforts. Recruiters know the value of maturity and are not reticent about making introductions for you. According to CNN, in May 2012, management and financial jobs were held by 6,274,000 American workers over the age of 55. Recruiters can sell your experience, skills and maturity when you may have trouble doing so for yourself.
Linda Ray is an award-winning journalist with more than 20 years reporting experience. She's covered business for newspapers and magazines, including the "Greenville News," "Success Magazine" and "American City Business Journals." Ray holds a journalism degree and teaches writing, career development and an FDIC course called "Money Smart."