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New York, New York – a Hotbed of Accounting Jobs

With over 8 million occupants, New York City is by far the largest city in America. Serving this massive population is a slew of businesses offering countless employment opportunities for finance professionals. As a result, New York City is one of the best places to find an accounting job, and in this accounting career guide, we’ll show you how to snag that dream job.

A large number of major corporations make the city their home, including major players in the finance, media, and entertainment worlds. There are an abundance of opportunities for professionals at all levels and specialties, including bookkeeping, accounts payable, and staff accountant roles.

Who’s Hiring For Accounting?

It’s a city that never sleeps, and that saying also applies to the numerous businesses that call New York City home. Many of these businesses require large accounting staffs that can work 365 days of the year to keep up with all the commercial activity.

Furthermore, various well-off people who dwell in NYC additionally require master bookkeeping firms to deal with their accounts.

While the real firms are situated in Manhattan, there are also many firms hiring in the nearby boroughs. Brooklyn’s quickly developing fame has prompted an expansion in openings for work in the range, so don’t avoid this district from your pursuit of employment.

What’s the Accounting Salary in the Big Apple?

The typical cost for basic items in NYC is very high, so it really is great that accounting occupations pay handsomely in the city. Expect a normal pay of about $80,000 for someone experienced. This is well over the national average salary for the field, which is around $65,000. Senior accountants and managers can command over $100,000 per year.

Those with aptitude in a specific zone of bookkeeping, for example, reviewing or universal assessment, could get paid more by functioning as an expert to organizations or bookkeeping firms.

How to Apply for Accounting Jobs in NYC?

It is actually very simple to apply for accounting jobs. You just need to find open positions on a job board like Indeed or LinkedIn. Then send the hiring companies your resume letter online, containing all your past work and education experiences as well as an explanation of why you are qualified for the job. Then presto! You are hired.

If only it were that easy! New York is filled with many qualified candidates so expect lots of competition for those accounting jobs. Read up here on how to build up and enhance your credentials. It really does help if you can network via LinkedIn.

Try networking with past colleagues, or reaching out to old college buddies. Your natural market is the best way to get an “in’ into an organization.

Finally, one of the best ways is to use Vested. We match talented finance and accounting professionals with the fastest growing startups. It’s very simple. Just click the button “Sign Up” and link to your LinkedIn profile.

You’ll need to fill out a few small details about yourself, like your goals, needs and expectations. List your accomplishments and past work history and then we do the rest. Using our connection at startups, we’ll match the right role for your skills and career goals.

Immediate Openings in Accounting

According to our database of hiring companies, the top two positions that have openings are Accounts Payable Clerk and Staff Accountant.

Apply now at our CANDIDATE SECTION.

It takes less than five minutes to complete!

Accounts Payable Clerk Role

The duties related to the job of an Accounts Payable specialist vary from organization to organization. You will be a vital member of the team that has the task of maintaining accounting operations for a particular department in the organization.  To achieve success as an Accounts Payable Clerk, it’s key to understand job expectations and what it takes to exceed them.

Here is a basic job description for this accounting role:

  •  Financial analysis and office administration
  • Checking and Verifying receipts and monies owed to vendors
  • Create invoices and vouchers
  • Filing, typing and posting ledgers
  • Make sure the debits and credits tie out
  • Variable costs are assigned to right cost centers and applied to the appropriate legal entities
  • Maintain accurate records of employee pay
  • Manages the record keeping and maintenance of invoices, receipts and other vendor documents
  • Balance records with respect to accounts receivables and payables
  • Manage the reimbursement and tracking process for travel and entertainment expenses
  • Be the “go-to person” for updating bank records and daily cash positions.

Accounts Payable Clerk Salary

According to Glassdoor, the national average for an AP Clerk is $31,587. In New York City, the salary for accounts payable clerk jobs is closer to $40,000. This is based on various openings from startups that have signed up at Vested’s Employer Services.

Moreover, startups are lean on traditional benefits like matching 401K. However, they make it up in year-round casual dress codes, foosball tables, beer in the fridge, and high visibility. Startups are lean in general so it’s easier to rise up the ranks from an Accounts Payable Clerk to a Staff Accountant.

If the startup gets big enough or even goes public in 5-7 years, someone who started out as an Accounts Payable Clerk could easily be a candidate for a Controller job. This is the beauty of working for a startup: achieve success early and you will be recognized.

How to Achieve Success as an AP Specialist

We’ve done a recent survey of our startup clients, and we asked them what it takes for an Accounts Payable Clerk to succeed in this unique world.

Here are the highlights from that survey:

  • Constantly improve accounting skills and get more exposure in the accounting world
  • Review own work during month end to free up time for the senior accountant and/or the accounting manager to do more analysis
  • Make sure all accruals are defect free and hitting the right accounts so that there is no clean-up work to be done after
    • Make sure the accounting schedules tie out and see if there are ways they can be improved
  • Ensure the accounting team has an efficient and accurate Cash Process
    • Maintain constant and open dialogue with banks, and/or third-parties who specialize in cash processes (i.e. Stripe)
    • Analyze historic daily balances in Stripe to ensure we are forecasting correct
    • Perform a daily rec for stripe so that we have daily balances moving forward
  • Implement an AP automation software to drive efficiency and accuracy
    • Setup and manage the AP automation software that makes obtaining invoice approvals easier
    • Implement a process where invoice would be uploaded automatically into Netsuite
    • Improve AP aging process and work with department heads and the C-level executives to get pre-approval on fixed recurring monthly invoices. (Ex. Office supplies, Internet, travel & entertainment, office snacks, rent and utilities)
  • Constantly Improve finance skills and get more exposure to modeling  
    • Work 1 on 1 with senior accountants and/or accounting manager to improve modeling skills
    • Take on small ad hoc projects to figure out what skills need to be improved
    • Ensure which important metrics are needed for forecasting
    • Partner up to ensure we have a smooth budget process.

Most of these things are typical expectations for an Accounts Payable Clerk. The main difference between working for a large corporation and a startup is the amount of work, and the ability to prioritize and knock out tasks.

According to the startups we’ve surveyed, this ability to multi-task and manage uncertainty is the number one skill to achieve job success as an Accounts Payable Clerk.

Staff Accountant Role

Although the staff accountant is one level higher than the Accounts Payable clerk, the job requirements are very similar. Most startups, or any business looking to hire a staff accountant, often require the following things:

  • The ability to analyze information from the general ledger
  • Prepare internal and external financial statement for the organization
  • Prepare payments for accrued expenses, and manage disbursements
  • Assist the Accounts Payable Clerk in reconciling accounts
  • Answer questions related to finance and accounting by analyzing information and conducting research
  • Keep financial information
  • Have a strong grasp of SFAS rules and have a CPA
  • Solid understanding of math to calculate depreciation and cash flow impact of accruals
  • Comfortable with Excel modelling to help the Finance team with budgeting and forecasting exercises.

Skill and Educational Requirements for a Staff Accountant

This is where the Staff Accountant is slightly different from an Accounts Payable Clerk. Most businesses prefer their Staff Accountants to have a bachelor’s degree, which usually takes four years to complete. While in university, the Staff Accountant should have taken all the accounting courses, business courses, management courses, information technology courses, and ethics courses.

The curriculum might also include courses regarding macroeconomics, business communications, computer applications, statistics, and accounting information systems (which is one of the most important for the future according).

Furthermore, hiring firms require their Staff Accountants to have 2-3 years of prior accounting experience, preferably with one of the Big Four accounting firms (i.e. KPMG, E&Y). Finally, a Staff Accountant would need a CPA to work full time in a finance team at any business, including a startup.

The experience and educational requirements are different for Clerks because these roles require an Associate’s degree. It is not uncommon for Accounts Payable Clerks to work full-time and study after hours to acquire the necessary credits to sit for the CPA exam. Passing the CPA Exam is necessary if an Accounts Payable Clerk wants to get promoted to a Staff Accountant role.

Finally, Staff Accountants are expected to fulfill the CPE requirements to maintain their CPA license. The requirements are different from state to state. For example in New York, a CPA would need to do the following to maintain their license:

  • Complete a minimum of 40 hours of continuing education in any of the recognized courses
  • Complete a minimum of 24 hours in a concentrated subject area. Approved topics include but not limited to accounting, auditing, taxation, advisory services and specialized knowledge regarding accounting in a specific industry (i.e. real estate, patent)
  • Satisfy the ethics requirement  by completing four hours of courses

If an organization’s accounting department is big enough, then it could provide courses to help it’s in-house CPAs complete these requirements. However, in the case of most startups, they don’t have sufficient cash to pay for the continuing education of their staff. Hence, Staff Accountants need to fulfill the CPE requirements on their own.

Achieving Success as a Staff Accountant in a Startup

We’ve surveyed our clients about how a Staff Accountant can work effectively in their unique work environment. Here are the highlights of the survey:

  • Staff Accountants are expected to perform a detailed review of the financial statements and monthly variances; create value through deep analytical knowledge on accounting processes; and identify any errors and adjustments that need to be made
  • Perform a detailed review of monthly variances to ensure no accruals/reversals/bills are missed during close
    • Ensure accounting processes comply with GAAP
    • Analyze expenses by department on a vendor level
    • Meet with department heads to review monthly expenses to ensure all accruals, reversals and bills have been recorded
    • Create a monthly variance analysis in each schedule to understand expenses in detail
    • Set-up, own and drive an efficient process for balance sheet accounts to ensure accuracy in reporting
      • Analyze and review balance sheet accounts by journal entry since inception to identify any process errors and adjustments
      • Lead the communication to develop a new process for recording these accounts
      • Develop a more analytical knowledge about these accounts to provide deep insights on how to create an efficient process for accurate reporting
      • Determine the amount that is reasonable to write-off based on the analysis that is performed
    • Improving the Budget Versus Actuals (BVA) process
      • Identify fail points and opportunities on processes before business owners do
      • Drive process to ensure business leaders are prepared in the monthly meetings by reviewing and confirming the expenses prior to closing the books
      • Perform detailed analysis and having explanations on large or inconsistent variances
      • Create an environment of “no surprises.”

Finally, the HR departments at most startups emphasized that “emotional intelligence” or EQ is more important than technical skills. Startups are a fast paced environment, and the Staff Accountant would need to be comfortable working independently.

Startups don’t have a large finance or accounting department, and the staff do not sit behind walled off cubicles.

It’s usually an open office setting with high visibility. So a Staff Accountant at a startup should be comfortable with all types of people (from an engineer requesting T&E reimbursement to the CEO asking about daily cash positions) to come to his or her desk.

The Staff Accountant role involves handling these ad-hoc requests efficiently and effectively, while still leaving sufficient time to complete his or her other regular tasks.

Some of the roles that firms are looking to fill:

  • Budget Analyst
  • Billing Analyst
  • Accounting Associate
  • Controller
  • Senior Financial Analyst
  • Accounting Manager
  • Director of Accounting
  • Vice President of Accounting
  • Bookkeeper
  • Chief Financial Officer (many startups prefer Big 5 credentials)

How to Get that Accounting Role

As we discussed in this article, figures quite often add power and believability to what you highlight on your resume, particularly when you are applying for accounting work.

Lots of employers like to see impressive numbers on your resume. Working on the budget for the lightbulb division in General Electric is not as impressive as managing a $50 million budget at a tire factory.

Yes, GE has the brand name, but stating your role doesn’t provide context. However, if you show on your resume, that you managed a $50 million capital budget for a company that has $75 million of gross revenues – then it’s a powerful story. It shows that you were important enough in the organization to manage a budget that is 2/3 of their entire annual gross revenues.

Be Prepared to Explain Your Credentials

Yes, there’s a limit to this. Something may look incredible on a resume, however consider how it will sound when somebody gets some information about it in the meeting. For instance saying that you “expanded organization benefits by 200%” opens yourself up to questions including “what particularly did you do to build benefits?”

On the off chance that you don’t have a nitty gritty system and operational guide for how you accomplished this, your interviewer will stay extremely suspicious of your prospects.

The Mental Game

Regardless of how great your pursuit of employment methodology, there’s continually going to be disappointment and dismissal. It’s inescapable. In any pursuit of employment, you can’t get to that “Yes, you’re hired” without loads of “No, we’re not interested” reactions.

Thus, it’s urgent that you get practical about the path towards landing a position and have the correct attitude to deal with setbacks. Without the capacity to drive forward, you won’t get very far. They say it’s a dog eat dog world in New York, and it’s especially true when it comes to finding the very best accounting jobs in the mecca of finance.

As we discuss here, it’s important to have a winning and sturdy mindset to deal with the ups and downs of finding that dream accounting role:

#1: Relish the Challenge of Finding the Right Accounting Job

The normal time it takes to find another employment is a month and a half. There’s a great deal to do when attempting to find your next employment opportunity, from researching the role and company to interviewing. Finally, there’s the soul searching part. This is probably the most important. We spend a lot of time at work so we must constantly evaluate why we’re doing this and why we should care.

#2: The Recruiting Game is just Statistics

It’s anything but difficult to romanticize one specific opening for work as “the one.” This happens regularly when you have one process going and all your eggs are in one basket. Perhaps, you’ve had an eye for that dream internal auditor role at a hot startup, and you’re focused only on that one role.

You open yourself up to major disappointment if it doesn’t pan out. It’s much better to spread yourself wide. Apply to various positions. Meet lots of people. It’s not rare that you interview for a Staff Accounting role and they give you a more managerial role because your specialty is needed in the organization.

#3 Power Through Tough Times and Keep Learning

You’ll likely go through various cycles of applying and not getting a response. Then when you finally get a response, the interview doesn’t go well. It’s a frustrating process that you have to compete with so many qualified accounting professionals in NYC, but it’s the recruiting game in the big city. Instead of being frustrated, keep your head up, keep networking and keep working on your resume and interviewing skills.

#4: Stay Positive!

Whenever you advance through the interview process, ensure that you record these wins in a diary that archives your triumphs and lessons learned as you experience this trip. It will come in handy when you feel stale or when you experience the hardships of finding that dream accounting job.

Attempt to recall that enormous victories are just the result of numerous littler triumphs included!

Interviewing for An Accounting Position

Here we have a more extensive review of how to prepare for your interviews:

  • What are your qualities?
  • What are your shortcomings?
  • Why are you intrigued by working for us?
  • Where do you see yourself in 5 years? 10 years?
  • What would you be able to offer us that another person can’t?
  • What are three things your previous supervisor might want you to enhance?
  • Educate me regarding an achievement you are most pleased with.
  • Enlighten me regarding a period you committed an error.
  • What is the ideal job for you?
  • What might you fulfill in the initial 30/60/90 days at work?

So be ready to answer any of these basic inquiries questions. Be honest and succinct but don’t sound monotone. Memorize a general script that answers each and every question, but don’t just regurgitate what you memorized.

Learn to vary your tone and overall emotion so it looks and feels natural. The meeting ought to be a discussion that ideally finishes up with you being offered the occupation you had always wanted.

Finally, when it comes to interviews practice, practice, practice.

If you are 2-3 years out of college or from your MBA school, it could be possible to set up mock interviews with the Career Center at your alma mater. This is often free for alumni so why not take advantage?

In today’s world, interviews can be done via Google Hangouts, via person or by phone. You have to be comfortable to showcase yourself and your skills in all mediums of communication.

If you find yourself stumbling in a video interview, then use the career center of your old university. Ask someone there to interview you via Google hangouts. If it’s in person interview that requires improvement, why not visit your old campus?

Another easy way to practice interviewing is with friends and family. It’s a comfortable way to practice answering questions. One caveat – friends and family are the worst critics. They will highlight the strengths but tend to overlook your weaknesses. Just keep this in mind when using friends and family to interview.

Then there’s scheduling informational interviews through your LinkedIn network. This does two things. First, you get to practice your interview skills with someone in your industry and get honest feedback. Second, you can strengthen your relationships with existing business contacts by reaching out to them.

If you can schedule interviews or meetings with people outside your network, then that’s even better. This helps you build your network, and perhaps, that person can pass on your resume to his or her company’s human resources department.

Courtesy Still Counts

Finally, we get to the often asked question of do I need to follow-up after an interview. It never hurts to thank your interviewers for their time. Usually, this is best done right after the interview. A short email of two to three sentences should suffice and make sure to use their business email.

As for further follow-ups, it’s good to check up a week from your interview, unless they explicitly tell you to wait for a specific time period. Again, a short polite email should suffice, and if it’s two weeks, then I’d pick up the phone and call.

You’ve Got the Accounting Job

First, congratulations once you land that dream accounting role. Anyone that has gone through a job search – any job search – in New York City can tell you how hard the process can be.

Make sure to submit your two weeks’ notice, and share your LinkedIn contacts with close colleagues at your soon-to-be employer. Although you are going to another position, it’s always good to stay in good graces with your old employer. You never know when you might be on the hunt again for another accounting job in New York City.