Accounting Entry-Level Job Search Tips from our HR Director

By Keiter CPAs | Mandy Nevius, MBA, SPHR, Human Resources Director

Accounting Entry-Level Job Search Tips from our HR Director

Seniors in college face many challenges, finding a job doesn’t have to be one.

Mandy Nevius - Keiter CPA

For many seniors in college, midway through the spring semester could bring some stress and anxiety. Amidst efforts to finish the final semester strong, purchasing graduation regalia, and taking graduation pictures, the hardest challenge could be what looms afterward: finding a job.

Fortunately, the outlook doesn’t have to look grim. According to a Society of Human Resources Management article on January 30, 2023, labor shortages were still a top concern for HR professionals. So, as students and recent graduates may be stressed to find a job, employers and recruiters share a similar feeling when it comes to filling their positions.

Mandy Nevius, Keiter HR Director and Hokie Alumna, hopes to alleviate some of the stress as she shares four tips to find your first entry-level position post-graduation. These tips come from many years of experience working with accounting students seeking their first job.

  1. Prepare

Before applying for jobs, take time to prepare a strategy and get organized. Preparing includes creating, or updating, your resume, researching interview questions, and creating a system to keep up with all of the jobs you apply for. There is a wealth of information available on resume writing, interview preparation, interview questions, and appropriate follow-up after an interview online.

  • University career center:  Make an appointment with the career center as soon as possible; the advisors at these centers are valuable resources available to students. Their focus is to help you find internships, volunteer opportunities, and full-time jobs. Advisors can help you draft and improve a resume, practice interviewing, and use online platforms to look for jobs where companies interview students before they graduate. They also offer assessment tools to determine which jobs align with a student’s skills and preferences.
  • Indeed has a wealth of short, informative videos on how to write a resume, how to post your resume for companies to see, and how to apply for jobs.
  1. Brainstorm

Take time to think about what you like to do, where you’d like to work, and how you function best. Consider the following:

  • What do you do in your spare time? Are there jobs that offer this type of work?
  • Do you have a prior internship or other relevant work experience that could lead to something in the future?
  • How do you like to work? Do you enjoy spending time outdoors or is working indoors a better fit? Does working in the same place everyday appeal, or is traveling to a new location from week to week more desirable? Do you prefer to spend the majority of time working with others in-person, or do you prefer a hybrid or fully virtual work arrangement?
  • Is geography a limiting factor? Are living expenses and distance to work important factors for you?

Given your answers, you can begin to narrow your search for possible employment opportunities. You can find if a job aligns with your criteria and filters through reading through the job postings listed on Indeed, Glassdoor, and other job searching platforms. Like a book cover, students shouldn’t judge a job or company by its title. Best practice is to read the job requirements and duties for a variety of positions to get a good idea of what is expected from an applicant. This can also pique your interest in a company or help rule out a particular type of work.

Having a good target list will decrease anxiety over where to start and will provide a direction for the search. Armed with a resume, interview practice, and a list of companies, the next step is to connect.

  1. Connect

The search comes full-circle. Many of the resources that help you prepare for the job search are also valuable when it comes time to put the resume to the job posting. There are still lots of options for you. It’s a candidates’ market right now, and spending some time each weekend can pay dividends down the road.

Suggestions for your next steps:

  • Reconnect with your school’s Career and Professional Development office. You have open access to apply for jobs in Handshake, an online platform, where employers post jobs for college students. The career center staff can help you create a profile to apply for jobs, volunteer opportunities, and internships.
  • Search for job openings on and where both list job openings and company reviews. Many companies pay extra to provide additional information and videos on their Indeed and Glassdoor pages. Candidates may apply directly to jobs from these two sites. There is more competition for these positions, which are available to anyone with an internet connection, compared to the jobs that are posted on college job platforms.
  • Reconnect with your network away from school. You may know people that you used to work with during a summer job, through your volunteer work, or at your place of worship, who would love to hire recent college graduates. These individuals may be more likely to want to help you and find interesting and meaningful work. Ask them if they know of opportunities that would be a good fit for you.
  • Your friends and family’s network is a great resource, too. Perhaps friends, siblings, relatives, and mentors know of opportunities with their companies. Some professors might have summer projects and need help. Reach out to individuals in their network for any job openings.
  1. Persist

If, despite your best efforts, these strategies have not yielded the desired outcome or opportunity, consider these options:

  • Temp agencies. Many companies use temporary staff at various times of the year. Some source full-time talent from these staffing agencies. Several agencies cater to specific industries like healthcare, accounting and finance, and administrative professionals. Connecting through a staffing agency that works with companies in your desired field could lead to a full-time job offer. Having a job, even a temporary one, demonstrates a desire to succeed and speaks to your work ethic. A paying job, even a temporary one, can help offset student loans and living expenses.
  • Customer service positions. Many stores, restaurants, and other service industries are hiring. In fact, most stores post signs advertising incentives intended to attract applicants right as you walk in. Perhaps you have a particular hang-out or frequented store. Are they hiring? Many may hire for short-term assignments and seasonal work. This can help offset bills, show that a young professional is serious about working, and provide excellent training opportunities. I suggest being candid with the hiring manager and letting this person know that this is a work experience stepping-stone, not a long-term career.
  • Ask about other options. Doing something is better than doing nothing when it comes to a job search. If the target companies are not hiring, ask if they have any externships, voluntary educational programs, or opportunities to meet with or “shadow” someone in a position that is of interest to you. These experiences provide depth to your skills and experiences and shows your tenacity.


Finding a job or an internship doesn’t happen overnight. Time invested now, will pay off later. It’s never too late to start, but waiting until after exams or graduation to start this process will limit opportunities.

Strive to be positive when talking about the process. Share your experiences and take time to listen to what others around you are going through. You may learn something, too!

Keiter is always excited to welcome new students for our entry-level accounting positions. Learn more about a career at Keiter.

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About the Authors

Keiter CPAs

Keiter CPAs

Keiter CPAs is a certified public accounting firm serving the audittax, accounting and consulting needs of businesses and their owners located in Richmond and across Virginia. We focus on serving emerging growth businesses and companies in the financial servicesconstructionreal estatemanufacturingretail & distribution industries and nonprofits. We also provide business valuations and forensic accounting servicesfamily office services, and inbound international services.

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Mandy Nevius

Mandy Nevius, MBA, SPHR, Human Resources Director

Mandy has over 20 years experience working with public accounting firms in the areas of training, career development, compensation, and recruiting. She shares her knowledge and insights on labor regulations and upcoming changes with her colleagues and the Firm’s clients.

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The information contained within this article is provided for informational purposes only and is current as of the date published. Online readers are advised not to act upon this information without seeking the service of a professional accountant, as this article is not a substitute for obtaining accounting, tax, or financial advice from a professional accountant.


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