I am probably a salutary tale of lack of networking nous and fear of moving out of comfort zone.
'Older person'. A graduate of languages (French, Spanish, Italian, Portuguese) along with English and my own native language. (Gaelic).
15 plus years of working in Accounts Assistant roles. 3 attempts to undertake further studies. (2005/2008/2014).
Finally got my stuff together and studied, sat and passed (2014-2019) AAT (equivalent) and subsequently CPA (practice-oriented) professional exams - so hamstrung anyway by lack of Chartered qualification (ACA).
Left a permanent Accounts Assistant role in 2016 due to lack of any further progression.
Due to lack of confidence as much as anything else [my permanent employers laughed at my attempts to sit ACCAs which I started in 2008 and aborted in early 2010]. This was a toxic environment in which I had to over-stay due to our great economic crash.
The 3rd and final plan was to study, sit and pass CPAs BEFORE approaching employers for 'hands-on' post-Trial Balance experience - not realising of course that I signed my death warrant there and then as to ever becoming an accountant at all.
I cold called about 50 practices/other small entities and got a response (probably too quickly).
First such role seemed a godsend (on paper).
Small Credit Union in the process of being merged with a bigger entity, where the central Banking authority dictated a segregation of roles between CEO and Finance professional. End result said CEO didn't wish to relinquish the finance function, so I was left sitting in an empty office watching webinars.
With 1 professional exam still to sit (the only one I had to repeat), I really had to leave for any hope of learning/progression.
Took a 25% pay cut and ended up in a lowly admin (admittedly in a Big 4 organisation) which nonetheless has inspired many an ooh and aah on my CV.
Post exam, I cold-called practices in my region and almost immediately secured what seemed a dream job - composed of half a week doing client payroll [50 clients] and half a weeks of Accounts Preparation. I fell at the first hurdle. The partner handed me files on Day One and let me off.
In my profound ignorance of practice life, I naively expected some introductory guidance/feedback/training input.
Week 5/6, I am floundering with the Accounts Preparation when I am put on a 'Time Budget'. This is effectively marking my card as to my prospects here as I know that my predecessor was sacked for 'failure to progress' with her files [she didn't have any payroll responsibilities].
Week 7 (beginning), I resign - before I am sacked.
Feedback from partners upon my humiliating exit at 10 am that Monday morning:
1: My expectations of support were off the scale of rationality (words to that effect?)
2: Nobody that had worked for their 30-year old practice had ever come in and made such demands (training) previously; I flagged from Day One that I was new to this and just wanted some assistance; I repeated this over the following weeks.
3: I expected someone to hold my hand; I was behaving like a baby.
My ignorance of practice culture aside, I have worked for more than 15 years (including 12 years permanently) in a variety of settings, private and public sector, many where I was expected to 'hit the ground running' with no input from existing staff. ‘Flexibility’ and ‘Adaptability’ are my key words these days!
I get out my (by now dangerously unwieldy CV and Cover Letter) and cold call another 70 practices.
Another almost instant response from a practice that assuredly knows well the practice from Role 2. I go along with my paperwork and submit to an interview, giving them 4 referees (that over-long CV by now) but omitting Role 2 due to their less than stellar assessment of me. A red flag for sure.
Anyway, I refrain from getting my hopes up. I am told firstly that I will get an answer the following working day. Then, I get a call to say that due to internal issues, the decision has been postponed to the following week. The end of the following week, I have heard nada, so I follow up. I duly get the Thanks but no thanks (by email).
Without being too paranoid, I can conclude that Role 2 were contacted (however informally on the grapevine) and put my interviewer straight as to my shortcomings - i.e. I am effectively blacklisted by practices now. [Role 2 partner is on the executive body of my Accounting body].
I suppose I just want confirmation of how massively I have messed up. That after 5 lonely (but intellectually rewarding) years of slog with my exams, I am being shortlisted for the same kinds of roles that I have always performed.