two blocks on a table with a finger pointing at them. One has a smily face and the other a sad face.

CV Clinic – How to make negative career experiences positive

Even the very best accountants have negative experiences in their career.

But when it comes to writing your CV, what potential employers will want to see is that you’ve taken those experiences and everything they’ve taught you and turned them into positive development that makes you a winning accountancy hire.

There’s plenty that can go wrong for talented accountants that can cause them to seek new opportunities or to step away from a role suddenly. And even a sudden jumping of ship shouldn’t point to any negative personal qualities that will affect your job prospects.

Here’s just some reasons why accountants might need to sever ties with a firm…

  • Ireconcilable differences with managers, colleagues or co-workers. Sometimes people just don’t gel and if you’re expected to work closely with someone you don’t respect or crucially, doesn’t respect you, sometimes it’s braver to walk away.
  • A change in the company culture, structure or its values that you just can’t continue to buy into. All organisations change, but not always for the better. Some accountants give changes a try but realise the firm they once knew and loved is no longer there and conclude that it’s time to make their own change.
  • A situation or mistake might have occurred that has made your position untenable. We’re all human. We all make mistakes and sometimes those mistakes cost us our jobs. If that’s your situation then your firm might have had to let you go to maintain relationships with a client or to set an example to staff. But that doesn’t mean you’ll make the same mistake again and that your career as an accountant is over.

If any of these situations sound similar to yours, don’t despair. At Public Practice Recruitment Ltd we’re well versed in counselling and coaching skilled accountants looking for new opportunities and we have a wealth of permanent and interim posts that just might have your name on them. But the first job is to get you shortlisted for interview and the key to that is to ensure that those negative work experiences are coming across as positive examples of learning and career evolution on your CV.

Here’s our top tips for turning negative career experiences into positive ones on your accountancy CV:

1. Keep it light.

You don’t need to devote paragraphs of text to explaining your reasons why you didn’t stick with an accountancy job. If your interviewers want to know, they’ll ask. And it’s important that the bitterness you might feel about how a situation ended, doesn’t find it’s way into your CV.

2. Focus on results.

You may have left a firm as the situation became too challenging to endure. But you will have achieved something during your time there, even if it was short. Add some punchy bullet points to the role that showcase what you did contribute, even if it was ‘offering constructive challenge about changes to organisational structure.’

3. Demonstrate professional growth.

One of the most attractive characteristics an accountant can demonstrate is authenticity. Making a brief mention of a negative experience but swiftly showcasing all that you’ve learned as a result of that experience and how your attitude and processes for working have changed as a result, can actually come across as really refreshing to a hiring manager reading stacks of over confident CVs.

4. Reach out for an objective opinion.

If you’ve really been through the wringer in a previous post it’s only natural that you’ll have some resentment or anxiety about it hanging over you. Always ask a friend, colleague, family member or a great accountancy recruiter to cast their eye over it and just check that it reads well and that there are no underlying tones of hostility that might be picked up by the hiring manager.

“It’s so important that accountants looking to be placed in roles are honest with us about issues they think might arise during the recruitment process. Not every accountant will be placed first time but if we know about a negative experience we can coach that candidate into the best way to present it and spin it into a positive experience that makes them even more employable. That’s why trust really is the most important aspect of the recruitment relationship.’

Garry Howling, MD

For relaxed career coaching and honest objectivity it’s always best to trust the experts. Contact Public Practice Recruitment Ltd for an informal chat today and we’ll find you a role at the right firm for you.


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