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Real-World Experience, Office Politics are Top Post-College Challenges for Accountants in First Job, Survey Says

MENLO PARK, Calif., July 28, 2015 /PRNewswire/ -- College students may be heading back to school soon, but they won't find everything they need to know for their jobs in their textbooks. In an Accountemps survey, more than half (56 percent) of accounting and finance professionals said they felt only somewhat prepared for their first job after graduation; another 14 percent indicated they were not at all prepared.

Respondents were unready for their first professional jobs in multiple ways. Almost half (49 percent) of those surveyed indicated that the knowledge they gained in the classroom didn't translate to their position. One-third (33 percent) said they felt ill-equipped to handle office politics.

View an infographic of the survey findings.

Accounting and finance professionals were asked, "How prepared were you for your first accounting or finance job out of college?" Their responses:

Very prepared


Somewhat prepared


Not at all prepared




*Responses do not total 100 percent due to rounding.

Respondents who said they were somewhat or not at all prepared were also asked, "In what ways were you unprepared for your first accounting or finance job?" Their responses**:

Knowledge gained in classroom didn't translate to the job


Didn't know how to handle office politics


Lacked technology skills or software knowledge


Had inadequate functional accounting skills


Had inadequate soft skills




**Multiple responses allowed.

"There are some types of skills and expertise that can only be gained through practical experience," said Bill Driscoll, a district president of Accountemps. "Students should take the initiative to find opportunities such as internships and temporary assignments that provide a taste of the business world and allow them to build their resume and expand their network."

Driscoll advised those preparing for their first job search to be open to all kinds of work experiences while in school. "All work is valuable and teaches people how to interact with and handle different types of people and situations," Driscoll said. "By exposing yourself to professional environments and projects in your area of interest, you can gain needed skills -- and make yourself more marketable to employers."

Accountemps offers five tips to help students prepare for their first jobs out of school:

  1. Join student and trade groups. Participating in an industry organization will help you expand your network. Look for opportunities to take on a leadership role; your involvement will enhance your visibility.
  2. Seek internships. Tap your college career center to identify internships in your field. You'll gain hands-on expertise and technical knowledge.
  3. Get connected. Stay in touch with key advisors, professors and internship managers. These contacts can be a resource even after you graduate and speak to potential hiring managers on your behalf.
  4. Consider temporary work. Staffing firms often have assignments for which students or recent college graduates may be a match. You can gain work experience, meet prospective employers and learn about different companies -- all while earning an income.
  5. Give back. Look for volunteer opportunities that align with your professional goals. For example, if you're an accounting major, offer to help a local nonprofit with its bookkeeping.

About the Research
The online survey was developed and conducted by Accountemps. It includes responses from more than 2,400 accounting and finance professionals in the United States.

About Accountemps
Accountemps, a Robert Half company, is the world's first and largest specialized staffing service for temporary accounting, finance and bookkeeping professionals. The staffing firm has more than 340 offices worldwide. More resources, including online job search services and the company's blog, can be found at




SOURCE Accountemps

For further information: ACCOUNTEMPS, Lisa Sibley, (650) 234-6246,