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What to do if you don't have the 'right' qualifications

 
If you don’t have formal qualifications it can be very disheartening to read job advertisements these days, with many of them specifying some level of further education as mandatory. 
 
But are these qualifications really necessary, and what can you do if you don’t have them?
 
Picture these two scenarios:
  • A client calls wanting me to find them an Accountant. The conversation almost always starts with, “I need someone qualified or part-qualified.” 
  • A client calls wanting me to find them a Bookkeeper. The conversation almost never starts with, “I need someone with a Certification IV in Bookkeeping.”
 
Some people have unfortunate life circumstances that dictate they may not have had the opportunity to get a higher education or school themselves in ways they may have wanted. But if this is your case, don’t panic! Your application will not be immediately discounted and you can still have a highly successful career.
 
Many of my candidates ask whether they should take a training course on the latest trendy computer system, or go back to TAFE for further certification. If you can, great.  However, in my opinion, you don’t need to spend a lot of money or time on courses that add one line of experience to your resume. 
 
Prospective employers like to see cold, hard, hands-on experience in the transactional world. 
So what can you do to further your career in transactional finance without certifications?
 

Upskill


If you are lucky enough to currently hold a role in transactional finance, take advantage of every opportunity. With the economy tightening, businesses are putting pressure on employees to perform a wider range of tasks than before. It is important to keep improving your skills and adding new ones outside your primary job function. This makes you a more valuable employee because your abilities are more wide-ranging.  So put your hand up and take on tasks that aren’t in your job description and make it clear to your manager that you're seeking opportunities to further your experience and gain new skills. The more skills you can highlight on your resume, the more chance you have of one of those skills resonating with a prospective employer. 
 

Get hands-on experience


This applies to both systems and processes. For example, if you are a Payroll Officer, prospective employers may be much more likely to invite you for an interview if you have used a particular system in a previous role (even if it was several years ago) than if you have simply studied it. Similarly, clients will often favour a Bookkeeper who has real experience rather than one who just has a certification. 
 
Spend less time studying and more time trying to get an opportunity where you can learn skills on the job.
 

Don’t be afraid to take risks


Take calculated risks to enhance your skill set and opportunities for progression. Recently, I was working with a candidate who had an exceptional skill set in Accounts Receivable, having previously managed a large team. She understood the job market was tough and a role as an Accounts Receivable Officer came up which was more junior that her previous experience in both salary and duty. She acknowledged that the company was good and, looking at the department structure, recognised there may be potential to step up in the future. She took a calculated risk, took the job and became manager in three months due to her hard work and determination. 
 
So please don't get disheartened when you read job ads and find yourself lacking in the qualifications they specify - there are ways to demonstrate your value, skills and experience outside of formal education.  
 
I have a genuine passion for seeing both my candidates and clients succeed. If you would like any information or advice on how to progress your career, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with me via LinkedIn or stuartsmyth@pagepersonnel.com.au.
 
 

Summary:

 
Despite most job ads specifying a minimum qualification threshold, there are ways to circumvent this requirement and prove to a prospective employer that you are capable to take on a role:
 
  • Find opportunities in your current role to upskill and gain experience in additional job functions
  • Focus less on studying new skills and more on finding real life opportunities to gain demonstrable experience
  • Take calculated risks to move your career forward and expand your experience