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Congratulations! Now what?

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It’s that time of year again: exam results are out and newly-qualified accountants are exploring their options! If you’ve updated your LinkedIn profile with your newly qualified status and are already getting messages from recruiters, then congratulations, now that you’re qualified, there are plenty of options open to you and soon there will be offers on the table. So, what exactly do you need to consider to be able to make the right decision?

Salary and title:

Qualifying typically sees a decent pay rise come into play, varying from firm to firm, and you may have also been given a new title to reflect your newly qualified status. You may be happy with both, one, or neither, but try to be objective about it. In terms of salary, it’s important to understand what the market rate for someone with your qualification and specialism expertise is. We can help you with that. Secondly, titles are fairly arbitrary as they change from firm to firm, so don’t worry about the wording itself. It’s all about your skill sets at this stage.

Practice v industry:

There is no right and wrong decision here and the stats show that it’s almost 50/50 in terms of who leaves practice for industry. We often hear, “I want a commercial role” and you can read more about finding a commercial role here. But if you know that you do want to move into commerce, now is the ideal time, though bear in mind, it can be extremely competitive. Remember too that staying practice doesn’t have to mean staying where you are – there may be better career progression at another firm.


You may well have specialised for quite a while over the course of your studies, and want a change, which is understandable. Now is a great time to switch into tax, transactional services or whatever interests you, but also consider that there is the option to stay in your specialism and move to a top firm as many of them offer secondment opportunities after your first year.

Career progression:

Along with your new pay rise and title to reflect your experience to date and new qualification, it’s important that you see some tangible proof of progression. If you don’t have increased responsibilities or more challenging work on the horizon, now is the time to query that, certainly before making any decision to stay. Consider whether there are bigger clients you could be getting involved with or management opportunities. If the answer is no, then it could be time to look elsewhere.

Study fees:

How do you leave the employer who paid for you to qualify and what about the outstanding fees? We looked in more detail at clawback fees last year and decided that the money shouldn’t get in the way of a move. While it may feel disloyal because of the sum involved, they are there as much for that psychological reason as anything else. Most firms will help out with anything you owe, so don’t let money on this side of the equation sway your decision making.

If you have recently qualified and would like any advice on your next career move, contact us today.