You have to be crazy to work in accounting, but since you want a job, you must not be crazy
July 17, 2006 12:57 PM   Subscribe

Ok, this is getting ridiculous. I'm incredibly qualified for data entry work, but all the data entry in my area falls under the heading of "accounting". I'd love to get some accounting experience, but every job that would give me accounting experience requires at least a year of -- wait for it -- accounting experience. What can I do?
posted by squidlarkin to Work & Money (12 answers total)
Try applying to smaller companies (even if they have this req) where your lack of accounting experience won't immediately set off their HR people's sensors and get you rejected before reading the rest of your resume.
If you have enough suitable experience in other fields, I am sure some company will be willing to overlook your lack of experience. They may even be able to pay you less because of that, which could make them happy.

Another solution might be to join up with a temp agency and do little while month or so and then have that experience as added leverage (even if it is not a full year).
posted by rmless at 1:01 PM on July 17, 2006

Response by poster: Actually that's part of my problem. I've been working as a temp and not getting enough assignments because the agencies are terrified of sending in someone without the right qualifications.
posted by squidlarkin at 1:08 PM on July 17, 2006

Can't the temp companies give you tests to prove you're qualified? When I did temping, they gave you tests to see if you met the standards for a certain type of work. They'll test you if you tell them you've done accounting work informally for yourself (you've done your own taxes, right? maybe even helped your friends?).
posted by ruff at 1:18 PM on July 17, 2006

  • If you have don't anything vaguely accounting related in previous jobs, list that as accounting.
  • If you have some sort of education in accounting, count that as experience. Focus on those things. It won't get you far, but it might get you in the door. My last semester in college we developed software for a client not associated with the school, and received our grades based on the end result. Most employers considered that as ' real-world-experience' even though I wasn't paid for it.
  • Volunteer to do some book-keeping for a local non-profit or charity, they usually don't expect too much.
  • Take a class

  • posted by blue_beetle at 1:21 PM on July 17, 2006

    sorry, change that first point, remove the "don't"
    posted by blue_beetle at 1:22 PM on July 17, 2006

    Who are you temping through? I had problems getting any jobs worth much more than minimum wage through one agency, but another sent me, with my data entry/secretarial-only skills to several law firms, one of which I work in to this day. It could say more about the quality of your temp firm than anything else.

    The good firm was Office Team/Robert Hand. If you have one in the area, I highly recommend them. If you don't, do some looking into the temp agencies in your area. Are they more interested in keeping you employed, or in making the companies think they're able to pull the perfect prospect out of a hat? I mean, if we're talking about temping, companies often have to take who they can get for emergency fill-ins and such.

    Another option is to take a couple of night courses, and explain that while you don't have ~experience~ per se, you do have formal ~training~. That often counts as well. Good luck!
    posted by Meep! Eek! at 1:28 PM on July 17, 2006

    Yeah, the temp company makes a huge difference. Shop around. (My best was Alan J. Blair, but that might only be out on the west coast.) Play them against each other, even. Also, random advice -- if they're paying you $18/hour, they're making something like $24, so you can often add $1/hour to your salary just by asking. ("Oh, I really hate to work for anything less than $19 / hour. Do you think the company would consider that?")
    posted by ruff at 1:57 PM on July 17, 2006

    There's good advice here but the best is probably to shop around temp agencies. And get your agency to talk to you about your resume and try to pin down exactly what kind of experience you are lacking and how they think you should get it. If they are unwilling to do this for you, let them know, explicitly that you will need to look for another temp agency that can help you with this. But, they make money off of you so they should be willing to help.

    And then, go right away to your local community college's website and see what classes they offer in accounting and data entry. Community college can be a very inexpensive way to broaden your skillset. The classes are often offered at times which will work with your schedule (though, if you're not getting full-time work this might not be an issue) and they also might have a few shorter workshops which could help pad your resume as well as give you a better idea of how to spin your current skillset so that it is more attractive to employers.

    Good luck!
    posted by amanda at 3:42 PM on July 17, 2006

    second on the volunteering, I have gotten three nifty jobs that way
    posted by haikuku at 4:24 PM on July 17, 2006

    Also, random advice -- if they're paying you $18/hour, they're making something like $24, so you can often add $1/hour to your salary just by asking.

    Maybe. This is a derail, and I'm sorry to the original poster, but if the agency is really only getting a 24 bill rate, then a 19 pay rate would only be a 26% mark-up. The temp office can't keep the lights on for that.

    If you want more, they'd have to get more from their client. Now, the bill rate is likely to be WAY hire than 24 if the pay rate is 18 (which is still only a 33% mark-up), and there might be some spread there that you could get, but I don't think you can assume that is the case anymore than you can assume that since a shirt costs a store only half what they're going to charge you for it that you can ask for $1 off. You can ask, and you might get it, but more likely, the employee won't be authorized to offer it to you. In the temp world, this is particularly true if the client is large and the staffing is part of a volume contract. The margins on those large contracts are razor thin for the agencies, and even the pay rates are often negotiated in advance and not subject to change.

    Out of the spread between the bill rate and the pay rate, the agency has to pay the employer tax burden, workers compensation insurance, unemployment insurance, the cost of recruiting, the cost of sales, the cost of maintaining an office, back-office stuff like getting the checks cut, etc., etc.

    I know it's easy to look at the discrepancy between the bill and pay rates and get the idea that you're being screwed, and I know there are plenty of people out there who will disagree on principle, but if you were working for the employer directly you wouldn't get the bill rate anyway (unless you could get on as a contract employee). The company is willing to pay a premium because they value the flexibility and just-in-time productivity boost that a temp agency can deliver for them (and because they don't want to pay you benefits). Obviously, there are benefits to the employee too, so hopefully the arrangement is win-win-win, but I know that sometimes it doesn't feel that way.
    posted by willnot at 4:33 PM on July 17, 2006

    MeepEek: That's Robert Half/Office Team.

    The quality of a temp agency varies with location. I think highly of Office Team (and they, of me) but that was in Milwaukee.

    Accounting/bookkeeping knowledge isn't hard to obtain. Office Team offers testing to determine your knowledge. Make use of this oppurtunity.

    Data-entry isn't that common anymore. In part because of everyone having a PC on their desk, doing their own stuff, and in part because of repetitive stress injuries. Accounting/bookkeeping that involves data entry is a great job because you don't spend your entire time typing at break-wrist speeds. You get a break to shuffle the papers :-))
    posted by Goofyy at 10:32 AM on July 18, 2006

    Goofyy - you're so right. Sorry about that. Brain blip.

    And I second the idea of getting them, or another firm, to get your scores down officially. RH/OT let me have copies of mine to keep with my resume. Having a third party officialize your skills is never a bad thing.
    posted by Meep! Eek! at 2:00 PM on July 18, 2006

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