How to Avoid Year-End Burnout

The final quarter of the year is here, and you’ve still got deadlines to meet, stuffed calendars, financial targets to achieve and team strategies to align for the next year. Even the holiday season can’t seem to make up for work-related exhaustion, stress, and anxiety. Long work hours and ever-growing to-do lists can take a toll and cause burnout for even the most hardworking and consistent employees.

Here are some tips to avoid year-end burnout, so you can peacefully enjoy the holiday season:

1. Prepare a “Priority List” – There will be several tasks to complete before the year-end but focus your attention and time on the essentials. Prepare a comprehensive “Priority list” that pushes you to complete tasks based on urgency. It’s important to understand what is crucial and time-sensitive before the year-end and what you can hold back until the new year.


2. Use Your Vacation Days – Spend time with friends and family and unplug completely on your days off. Breaks are important to energize your mind and boost productivity. A change of environment enhances creativity and sparks new energy into your work.

3. Schedule Me Time – Recharge your mind and body with a focused work out. Indulge in outdoor activities to fuel enthusiasm and build motivation. Bike rides, walks, yoga, and meditation are great stress busters. Additionally, schedule free time on your calendar and stick to it. It’s crucial to take some time out for yourself, even if it’s just 30 minutes a day.

4. It’s okay to say “NO” – Don’t take on more work than you can handle. It’s easy to say “YES” to everything and wanting to be that person to help others. Set clear boundaries on the things you can and cannot do. If you can’t physically and mentally spearhead another project, it’s better to say “NO” early on than feeling guilty for not meeting expectations.

Year-end burnout is real, but avoidable. Remember that you’re not alone. Confide in a colleague or manager. Be aware of your breaking point and take proactive measures to ensure that you don’t stretch yourself too thin.

Navigating the Applicant Tracking System

An applicant tracking system (ATS) is a software that employers use to find the most suitable candidate for a specific role. According to Jobscan, 95 per cent of Fortune 500 companies use an ATS to streamline their hiring process. ATS reviews resumes and qualifies candidates that match the job criteria. As a candidate, it is important for you to optimize your resume and learn how to navigate the ATS. 

Consider these these best practices to get your resume past the ATS and into the hands of hiring managers:  

1.    Apply the Right Format  

Most applications fail to make it through an ATS because of poor formatting. Newer tracking systems are capable of interpreting graphical elements, but some companies still use traditional ATS’s that have a tough time processing formats that include charts, graphics, or unique layouts. Apply a universally acceptable font throughout your resume, such as Arial, Times New Roman or Georgia. Replace charts and graphs with bullet points and common section headers such as “Work experience” or “Professional summary”.  

2.    Customize for Keywords  

ATS determines your fit for a position based on the keywords used in your resume. Customize your resume with relevant keywords from the job posting. Incorporate terms that best help to highlight your experience and skills. Align your resume with specific software, certifications and experience mentioned in the job listing.   

3.    Add a Skills section 

A separate skills section within your resume is another way of including relevant keywords that don’t necessarily fit well within the work experience section. Only mention skills that you possess, not because it appears in the job listing. Always remember that once your resume passes an ATS, it still needs to impress a hiring manager. Eliminate any unnecessary information and stick to what is true.  

4.    Avoid the “one-size fits all” approach 

Submit a tailored resume for each job. Job descriptions and requirements vary from one job to another so make sure to craft a compelling resume that is specific to the job and company you’re interested in. One of the easiest ways to pass through an ATS is to apply for roles that match your education history, work experience and skills.  

5.    Be Selective with Your Applications  

Applicant tracking systems store resumes in a database that hiring managers can access even after a job has been filled. Recruiters have access to your application history and the number of times you’ve applied for different roles. Make sure that the roles you apply for within one organization are suitable and match your expertise. Too many applications to a wide range of roles can signal to a recruiter that you lack specificity in your career objectives. 

In Demand Soft Skills of 2020

When hiring managers assess candidates for fit, they focus on soft skills, behaviours and aptitudes that show them how well you’ll mesh with others at the company. Qualities such as being a good communicator or having a strong work ethic are obvious requirements and often what candidates aim to prove when interviewing for a job. But what other qualities are important to employers in 2020?

We did some digging (and asking) and here are the top 3 in-demand soft skills of the year:

Creativity

Both LinkedIn and the World Economic Forum cited creativity in their findings of top qualities that employers seek in ideal candidates. This is something we hear a lot from our clients too: they want professionals who can contribute innovative ideas and are not afraid to think outside of the box. Creative employees often seek new ways of performing tasks, they are curious, open to learning, and help companies push the boundaries in a very competitive business landscape.

Recruiter Tip!
A good way to showcase your creativity in the finance and accounting industry is to describe a problem or challenge that you’ve solved creatively, using critical thinking and analysis to determine a new, more effective way of achieving the end result.

Collaboration

Well here you have it: teamwork was essential to workplaces 20 years ago and it continues to be important today. Teams can accomplish way more than any individual and so employers want to hire professionals who can effectively and respectfully collaborate with diverse types of people. Roles have become more specialized and according to a researcher at Kellog School of Management companies, to remain successful, are creating bigger working groups with more specializations and encouraging sharing of information within workplaces.

Recruiter Tip!
Show that you are a collaborator by describing a project that you worked on as part of a team. Highlight ways in which you learned from others, how you navigated differences of opinion, and what you find most enjoyable about collaborating with others.

Adaptability

A common challenge our clients experience with hiring finance and accounting professionals is rigidity in habits and expectations. 2020 has taught us that the business world is unpredictable and changes in methods, technology, and processes can happen on a dime. Which is why we chose adaptability as the third important soft skill of 2020. Employees who embrace change and are willing to get out of their comfort zone are more valuable to companies especially now that many organizations are pivoting in new directions to stay in business.

Recruiter Tip!
During an interview, describe how you have adapted to working differently under COVID19 restrictions and what new skills you have gained as a result. Outline any learning and professional development that you’ve engaged it to keep up with new trends.

With the rise of AI and automation of tasks, soft skills are more important than ever. In fact 92% of recruitment professionals and hiring managers polled by LinkedIn agree that strong soft skills are essential to the workplace and bad hires generally have poor soft skills.

For more information and tips on how to highlight your soft skills during an interview, contact one of our recruiters at info@ptcrecruiting.com

Do’s and Don’ts of F&A Resume Writing

Hiring managers skim through a ton of resumes daily and need to identify quickly which ones make the cut and which ones don’t. It is tough to summarize your career on a single document –skillfully articulating positions you’ve held, certifications you’ve earned and companies you’ve worked for.

Whether you’re creating a new resume from scratch or updating a current one, here are some of our do’s and don’ts to help you to put together a purposeful career document that brings you closer to your next job.

Do’s

1. Choose a Functional Resume Format

Most finance resumes use a chronological approach to display work experience. Experiment with a functional format that follows the chronological listing of work experience along with a detailed list of skills and certifications. Include a headline that clearly communicates your goals and qualifications. Customize your summary for each position, research what the company is looking for in a candidate and make note of those attributes in your summary statement. Make your summary unique, let it tell the interviewer something about yourself that the rest of your resume won’t.

2. Quantify Your Experience

The work experience section of your resume is the most daunting one to highlight. Numbers make a huge difference to any resume, try to quantify as much of your experience as possible. If you’re hesitant to use exact figures, consider using range, percentage increases/decreases, frequency, and scale to emphasize your impact. For example; responsible for preparing multiple financial reports on a weekly basis has a better impact than responsible for the preparation of financial reports. Similarly, managed a portfolio of over 500 clients, 50+ calls per day, recovered 2+ million in 2018 sounds much better than dealt with high-volume collections and recovered millions for the company.

3. Include Specific Keywords

Be specific with your skills, certifications and use strategic keywords relevant to the job description. Only those candidates whose resume matches to what recruiters are looking for will make it to the top of the pile. Some finance keywords to consider include finance analysis, corporate accounting, financial planning, budgeting, tax accounting etc. Don’t overdo it with F&A acronyms and technical jargon. Technical expertise is crucial for a career in finance, but employers want to see proof of soft skills such as critical thinking, communication, and time management.


Don’t

1. Use Too Many Empty Words

Avoid excessive use of terms like “detail-oriented”, “results-driven” or “change agent”. Include terms that are specific to your skills and abilities. Discard any flattery, unnecessary descriptions or words that don’t add value to your professional career. Ideal F&A resume length should be 2 pages – every word is precious!

2. Focus on Job Titles

Employers may be more interested in your job accomplishments than job title. Reduce your focus on job titles and add more weight to your accomplishments within a specific role, positive changes you’ve helped to implement, and accounting software that you’ve mastered

3. Overdue Work Experience

There is no need to mention every job you’ve had, especially if it is not related to the role you’re currently pursuing. Limit your work experience to positions that align with your qualifications and career goals.

Top Certifications for Accounting Professionals

Accounting is one of the most important languages of business. Advances in technology are also changing the business landscape for accounting professionals. In 2020, accountants must not only possess technical knowledge about accounting principles but should also embrace data science and analytics to improve a company’s performance. The Bureau of Labor Statistics expects accounting careers to grow at a pace of 13%, with more than 1.4 million jobs by 2022.

If you are looking to embark on a number-crunching career path, here’s our list of top accounting certifications that you can consider pursuing:

1. Chartered Professional Accountant (CPA)
CPA is a globally recognized and respected designation for accounting professionals. As a Canadian CPA, you can find your own niche and specialize in areas that interest you such as financial accounting, management accounting, tax accounting, public accounting, non-profit accounting, forensic accounting etc. Chartered Professional Accountants of Canada is one of the largest national accounting organizations in the world and is credited voice in the business, government, education, and non-profit sectors. CPAs play key roles within diverse segments of the Canadian economy including industry, public accounting, government, education and the not-for-profit sector. According to the CPA Profession Compensation Survey, the average compensation of professional accountants across different working sectors, age groups and regions was $141,000. 

2. Certified Professional Bookkeeper (CPB)
The CPB designation is the national standard of excellence for professional bookkeepers in Canada. If you’re an experienced bookkeeper or an accounting professional looking to build credibility and increase visibility, register with a national certifying body such as the Certified Professional Bookkeepers of Canada.

3. Certified Management Accountant (CMA)
Certified management accountants (CMAs) are involved in cost or management accounting. The Society of Management Accountants awards this designation in Canada. CMAs have higher earning potential and credibility because they can explain the “why” behind numbers, not just the “what.”

Top Certifications for Finance Professionals

Certifications in the finance and accounting industry matter. They make you more desirable to employers and open the door to new opportunities. The Canadian financial sector has witnessed a proliferation of designations and credentials, making the need for specialized financial professionals rampant. Getting certified, even later in your career, shows your commitment to continued education, a growth mindset, and that you are serious about a finance profession.

In the spirit of back-to-school season, here’s our list of top finance certifications for aspiring and existing F&A professionals wanting to take their careers one step ahead:

1. Chartered Financial Analysts (CFA)

CFAs work with investments, institutional money management and stock analysis. To obtain a CFA designation, you must have a minimum of three years related work experience and complete three qualifying exams. These exams will test you on topics such as Equity investments, Quantitative methods, Corporate finance, Financial reporting and so on. To obtain and maintain your CFA credentials, you must be an active member of the CFA Institute.

2. Certified Financial Planner (CFP)

If you would like to venture out as a professional financial planner in any of the Canadian provinces, you must be licensed as a Certified Financial Planner (CFP) by the Financial Planning Standards Council (FPSC) of Canada. The four main components to the CFP certification are Education, Examination, Experience, and Ethics. The CFP exam cover topics such as Risk management, Finance principles, Tax and Investment planning.

3. Certified Management Accountant (CMA)

The CMA certification has been the global benchmark for management accountants and financial professionals. CMAs are strategic thinkers with the ability to convert data into dialogue. According to IMA’s 2020 Global Salary Survey, 63 per cent of CMA professionals benefit from salary advantage globally. The CMA exam includes two parts covering 12 competencies. To qualify for this credential, candidates must have a professional accounting degree with approved years of work experience and a membership with the Institute of Management Accountants (IMA).

4. Certified Internal Auditor

The Certified Internal Auditor (CIA) designation is globally recognized in the internal audit and compliance industry. The CIA exam focuses on risk management, auditing processes, fraud risk, governance and business controls.

3 Key Questions to Ask Remote Candidates

Remote work, while being recognized as more mainstream, especially now, is not suitable for everyone.  It takes a certain type of person to work effectively away from an office setting.  Independence, good time management skills, resourcefulness, and trustworthiness are some qualities an employer should seek in a candidate applying for a remote role.

So how can you determine whether a candidate will succeed at teleworking?  Consider asking these 3 key questions during an interview to help assess for remote suitability.

How do you prioritize tasks?

It’s important to know that the candidate can distinguish between important and less important tasks and make the call independently as to which ones go to the top of the list. Ask about what strategies they use to assess their workload and keep track of their progress as well as how they structure their workday.  If the candidate needs a lot of direction from their manager to organize tasks and requires frequent checking-in to ensure that they are focussing on the right things, working remotely might prove challenging.      

What makes you an effective communicator?

In an office setting people can constantly see you so it’s much easier to share your thoughts spontaneously and engage others in conversation.  And while there are many different technologies that companies can implement to help facilitate collaboration and inclusiveness, making your voice heard as a remote employee is often a challenge and could potentially lead to disengagement.  You want to make sure that the candidate is comfortable reaching out to others and initiating conversations, that they can leverage collaborative technologies to their full potential, and that they can communicate their ideas clearly, without hesitation. 

How do you maintain work-life balance?

Many of us who have worked from home regularly for an extended period of time can attest to the fact that it is easy to blur the line between professional and personal life.  While remote work offers more flexibility in daily schedules, it is easy and sometimes even tempting to keep on working beyond allotted work hours, eventually leading to burnout.  You want to make sure that the candidate is cognizant of this fact and that they have strategies in place to help them work most efficiently without jeopardizing their mental health.

Key Questions To Ask Remote Employers

As we recover from the pandemic and some companies make the move towards establishing remote work on a permanent basis, candidates will likely see a lot more opportunities for teleworking roles. While it may not be an ideal fit for everyone, remote jobs provide greater flexibility, less constraints around location, and a more technology dependent working environment.

In order to assess whether the remote role you’re applying for is well supported by the organization that’s offering it, consider asking these 3 questions at the interview:

1. Can you describe your company’s remote culture?
Some companies might have an established remote workforce while others might be new to this. Because remote employees can feel disconnected, it’s important for organizations to bring everyone together, encourage frequent collaboration, and have a check-in system in place. Get a sense of how frequently the teams communicate and by what method, whether there are any virtual team events in place, or what their policies are for creating an inclusive culture that address the challenges of distance work.

2. What technologies do you have in place to support remote work?
There are many different technologies on the market that allow for collaboration and communication between team members, such as Microsoft Teams, Zoom, Google Hangouts, and Slack. You want to ensure that the company will provide such resources so you can get to know everyone at the company and have an established method of communication with your team. It is also key to determine how easily you’ll be able to share and access files. Is the company working from a cloud environment? What type of IT support will be provided? Make sure that you are comfortable or open to learning their tech stack.

3. How do you track productivity of remote employees?
Productivity tracking is done differently across organizations and even teams within one company. Some roles require closer monitoring than others. Companies can track work by using technologies such as ActivTrak or opt for an honour system. It’s important to find out what the process and expectations are around the role you’re applying for. Are you expected to work during certain hours or is there room for flexibility? Does this job have frequent deadlines and a defined reporting structure? Get as much clarity on expectations as you can.

When you interview for a remote role, ask the right questions to gauge your fit. Companies that have a well-thought-out remote work support system in place will add to your and their success.

Return to Work Anxiety: How to Help Your Employees

As governments loosen restrictions, many employers have begun developing plans to ensure that employees are brought back to an office setting safely. This includes operational and logistical considerations, setting up employee schedules, elevator usage policies and much more. But it’s important to also address and plan for how to deal with feelings of stress and anxiety around the return to work.

These uncertain times have taken a toll on the mental health of many employees, affecting future productivity and engagement levels. According to a survey conducted by KRC Research and Weber Shandwick, 45 per cent of employees are afraid that their employer will bring them back to the office before it is safe. Additionally, only 34 per cent of employees feel safe returning to work when there is a vaccine or treatment and 52 per cent of employees have growing concerns about the future of their company and their role.

Here are few tips that can help employers strategize for the new normal and address return-to work anxiety:

1. Communicate transparently and regularly
Consistent two-way communication is key to managing employee anxiety. Ensure that your teams receive regular updates about company performance, ongoing initiatives and any business-related information. Keep employees abreast of information that is critical to their role and to the success of your organization. Endorse transparency and engage teams to be a part of the growing conversation.

2. Implement Recommended Public Health Measures
Employees need to be aware of how the company is implementing, monitoring and enforcing government recommended public health measures. CDC provides a comprehensive guideline to help businesses and employers respond to COVID19 within the workplace. Provide your employees with assurance that preventive steps are being taken, closely monitor developments and update protocols as the situation evolves.

3. Provide training to leadership teams
Employees will depend on their managers and leaders to ensure a smooth back to work transition. Organize virtual training sessions that focus on managing a hybrid workforce, developing emotional intelligence and building a collaborative work culture. Arm your leaders with the necessary resources and tools to effectively address employee anxiety over return to work and provide healthy ways to cope with it.

4. Be Flexible
If your company has implemented remote work, consider surveying your employees to see how they feel about continuing that arrangement for a definitive period of time. Gauge the success of your remote work experiment by monitoring the productivity and engagement levels. Employees will expect flexibility, particularly if they are looking after children and parents. For employees that thrive better in an office setting, evaluate and plan for hybrid working arrangements.

How to Market Company Culture on Social Media

There aren’t too many companies today that don’t have a social media presence. Social media is a mainstream marketing tool, highly effective at growing brand awareness, cultivating relationships with your customers, and promoting your products or services. But do you ever use this all-star tool to highlight your company culture? If the answer is no, you’re missing out on an important opportunity to attract talent.

Passive and active job seekers will inevitably explore your company pages across different social channels and will even look at profiles of your existing employees. Which is why it’s so important to regularly post social content that paints a genuine portrait of your company’s culture, the perks and benefits of working there, and the amazing people that you employ.

Celebrate your employees
One way to showcase your company on social media is by celebrating your employees. Highlights of employee milestones, personal stories, and welcome messages about new additions to the team are great suggestions. A big trend on social media right now is content around unique ways in which people are working from home and dealing with its challenges (sometimes comically). Doing this shows the potential candidate that you value your workers, that you take pride in their contributions. Plus, such posts are also more likely to result in greater brand advocacy, yielding more internal likes and shares.

Promote company events
Does your company host a regular social outing? Or do you organize an annual team building affair or a charity drive? If so, show it off! Candidates love seeing the fun (and charitable) side of your business. While the pandemic has put the zap on any physical events for the time being, if you’re big on organizing any virtual ones, like a virtual coffee break and catch-up session, make sure to promote this as well. It’s important for potential candidates to see that you are going the extra mile, especially now, to bring your team together, in a fun way.

Profile your leaders
Building a profile for your leadership team is also a good way to showcase your company culture. Some organizations post written messages by leaders, others share videos of them speaking about an important topic. Videos, in fact, generate 12 times more likes and shares than text and images. Both are great ways of showing their personalities and thought leadership. Also, encourage your leadership team to comment on content posted through the company page. A vocal leadership team that is at the forefront of your content will give a glimpse to potential candidates of how your company operates.

Boast about perks and benefits
If your company provides any cool perks or in-demand benefits, talk about that in your social media content as well. For example, one company we worked with allowed dogs in the office every Friday, so their social media post for Fridays included photos of dogs working alongside the employees with a cheeky caption. Company perks, progressive policies, and benefits are all the hype and something that candidates definitely look for when choosing which company to work for.

Identify your values
Lastly, but very importantly, don’t forget to include curated content about your company’s values. Whether it’s a statement about your commitment to diversity and inclusiveness or philanthropic initiatives, job seekers want to know what you stand up for, what you believe in, and what principles guide your organization. By being vocal about this you will more likely attract candidates that share these same values.

It’s a good idea to embed company culture in all of your marketing materials but social media allows you to do it in creative ways, more frequently, and helps to spread the message further. By seeing who you are as a company, candidates will be able to make more informed choices and be better matched to your culture.