Get Noticed in Accounts Payable
by Jamie Radford
Getting noticed in any career is going to be a fairly challenging task, but within accounts payable, being recognised as a vital member of the finance team, it is especially so. In AP, it’s not just important to be able to move up in the career ladder, because even though the majority of us start off as AP clerks, we want to progress to team leader and management roles. In this post, we’ll discuss the most efficient ways to actually “get noticed” throughout your career in AP.
The entry route into the accounts payable industry can differ from country to country and sometimes, from company to company. However, no matter what age you are, if you’re considering next steps after school, a career change in your 40s, or nearing retiring age in your current career but don’t yet want to retire, a reputable course providing recognised certification is the first step to take.
DECIDE YOUR DIRECTION
Have you thought in detail about the direction you want your career to take? Deciding this within the AP profession is critical not only because there are numerous job titles to aim for throughout the profession, but also because you will need to have the necessary skills, qualifications and experience under your belt to reach your set milestones.
THE PERFECT COVER LETTER
When applying to jobs, ensure you have the cover letter that is going to make you stand out. Merely submitting your CV is almost verging on unacceptable because many employers will usually only glance over a CV that has not been submitted with a cover letter. Consider the sheer number of CVs that recruiters must sift through to create a shortlist… any applicant that lays out their objective, summarises their experience and shows overall professionalism and attention to detail is going to have their CV noticed. Submitting a good cover letter enables you to elaborate on your concise CV and provide additional important industry-specific experience and skills to the recruiter, meaning a way of highlighting those aspects that may not stand out just from reading through your CV. It’s a well-known fact that a well-crafted cover letter can increase your chances of being called for an interview.
UPDATE YOUR CV
Always fully update your CV, ensure all dates are correct, outline your main duties and responsibilities within each role and always include your achievements within the role, no matter how small or insignificant you think they might be – that one small achievement in your AP role two years ago might just be the thing that gets you noticed for your next perfect job!
WILLINGNESS TO LEARN
Showing a willingness to learn always stands AP staff members in good stead. Stay late if needed, don’t be a complainer, don’t be a clock-watcher, be willing to take on the menial jobs that no-one else wants to do… probably obvious words, but they are not called “wise words” for nothing.
Showing a commitment to stay with one company for a specified number of years is yet another aspect of getting noticed in accounts payable. Keep this plan regarding the number of years to yourself because, of course, the only constant is change and you may end up staying for many more years with the company than you initially planned while achieving promotions. Ideally career moves in AP should not be sooner than three years.
TALK TO YOUR EMPLOYER
If you have some spare time or there are possible tasks that could be squeezed into your role, ask your employer if you can get involved in other areas such as payroll or VAT returns, for example. Many employers will not only be happy to offload some work, but will also notice that you are willing to get out of a potential comfort zone and show you want to take on more responsibility and learn – a vital way to get noticed!
It does not matter if it’s reaching career goals or achieving your dream of just getting your first job in the AP industry, continuous learning is paramount. Computer skills, diplomas, certificates, on-the-job training, seminars, workshops, conferences, CPD points… it all counts towards improving your knowledge and skills within the industry and will help you to stand out above the rest. It proves to employers and recruiters, without a doubt, that you have a keen interest in the AP profession, along with a commitment to excel. The key is to be able to be productive within any AP department from the day you start, with minimal training. This comes from solid education and fully understanding the industry.
Being detail-oriented is extremely important in the AP profession and is a skill that, if it doesn’t come naturally, must be learned and honed. There are myriad tasks in any AP role that require acute attention to detail and mistakes just won’t be acceptable. Many AP staff members will naturally lack this skill, but by you having it to the nth degree, you’re going to stand out as a member of the team who can be counted on!
To move up the ladder and get noticed, experience is key in the AP industry. Unfortunately stereotyping can happen in a number of AP roles, and employers or agencies could look at your CV and then box you into a certain type of role for many years. Clearly demonstrating that you have additional experience and have been continuously learning, showing willingness, getting excellent references and paying attention to the details is extremely useful when trying to progress in the industry.