How to make the first move

How to make the first move
Article contributed by Charlotte Stone
Written on 03 April 2017

Moving out of chartered for the first time can be a daunting prospect, so we’ve put together a few tips to ensure that your first move runs as smoothly as possible.

Set yourself apart from the competition

When switching from chartered to commercial, it’s important to remember that you are not the only one trying to make their first move. Ultimately, you are in competition with hundreds of others in the local market looking to apply their knowledge in a commercial setting, so it’s vital you stand out from the crowd. You can do this in a number of ways:

Key achievements – this can include secondments (either commercial or international), projects or duties given to you specifically by partners due to high performance. Identifying what differentiates you from your colleagues will put you above your competition.

Added value – think about where you have added quantifiable value in your role e.g. saved time/money (how much?), won new business, improved processes… above all else, hiring managers will look for the value you can add to their business long term.

Personality – although the hiring manager has a brief for their role, they are still looking to hire a person. Expressing your personality through your extracurricular activities or interests paints a fuller picture of who you are a.k.a. the person they may be working with in the future, so include it on your resume.

Celebrating your own achievements is easier said than done, so if you are struggling to pull achievements out of your resume, contact your Recruiter who will be more than happy to help.

Choose a role that will best utilise your skills

Managing your expectations – although you may ideally want to secure a Management Accountant position, more often than not, these roles are offered to internal applicants, as they already have the prerequisite commercial experience. Try to target roles that complement your background: if you’ve audited ASX listed clients, your experience will be of most interest to listed companies, particularly for financial accounting roles. If you have business services experience gained at a mid-tier, a medium sized organisation will likely better utilise your broader skillset. Understanding and playing to your strengths will help you find the best fit.
Job titles vs. role content – chartered firms operate in a more structured way than commercial businesses, meaning that roles with different names often have similar duties; one company’s Vice President is another’s Financial Accountant, so try not to get hung up on the job title. Once you join a commercial business, there is the scope to move around and add more to your job description as time goes on, so delve into the duties to ascertain whether the role suits your background and long term career goals.

Analyst roles – if you want to move into the analytical space, employers will expect you to know your way around business intelligence tools such as TM1, QlikView or Tableau and produce fully scalable models in Excel. Knowledge of SQL and VBA is also an added bonus. Upskilling yourself for any role will go a long way to helping you secure it.


Larger company vs. smaller company – although the larger corporates are often the first port of call for first movers, smaller organisations offer a breadth of role that simply isn’t available in a larger business due to their size. Deciding whether you want to become a specialist in a particular area at a larger organisation or gain exposure to a number of areas at a smaller one is an important thing to consider when making your first move.

Work with a select number of recruiters

Having worked in senior finance recruitment for almost three years, I’ve found that the best first moves are made when you trust the recruiters you are working with. Limiting the number to one or two maximum gives you a variety of roles whilst ensuring you keep track of where you are being represented to. If you are looking to secure your first role in commerce on a contract or permanent basis, our team will be more than happy to assist. Please get in contact on (02) 8256 5020 to discuss what you are looking for in complete confidence.

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