The Big Leap – How to Change Your Career

Ryan Kuhn 15.06.2016

As someone who has made a major career transition in the last 12 months I know firsthand the pitfalls that individuals can face in this area.

This has become more prevalent having started in the challenging and demanding role that is recruitment. In a series of personal blogs, I want to share my experiences of working in finance and recruitment, how to go about changing careers, and what it is like to work in recruitment at Morgan McKinley.

Having sat my final GCSE exam, I knew that pursuing further education was not on the cards for me. I wanted to get out into the real world, get into a business that would support my development and study something relevant. I began applying for jobs and was fortunate enough to be given an opportunity at a FTSE 100 services organisation to work in the Purchase Ledger department. Whilst working I was encouraged to study for the AAT to enhance my skills. As well as successfully passing my AAT exams I was learning new skills at work, where I assisted with all balance sheet reconciliations which consisted of control accounts for purchase and sales ledger, HMRC, pensions and payroll. I was seconded to different contracts, on occasions shadowing the management accountant and gained valuable commercial exposure. Once I had finished my studies I decided to take on a new challenge and join one of the world’s largest professional services firm as a Project Finance Co-ordinator. During this time, whilst working alongside engineers, project and business managers, I analysed budgets, costs and WIP for projects across the globe. I felt at this stage that I had gained some excellent experience in this sphere but even at the young age of 23 I felt I was at something of a cross roads. 

I started to ask myself a lot of questions about the next stepsThe work for me was steady, I was able to learn new skills as well as pass the exams but I didn’t feel contented with what I was doing on a day to day basis. I started to ask myself a lot of questions about the next steps; Do I change the company? Do I study to become a fully qualified accountant? If so do I do ACCA or CIMA? As I asked these questions I was never excited about the long-term future. I was good with the numbers but I felt like I could be doing something else. I wanted a new challenge and the idea of transferring my finance knowledge seemed a natural career change where I could make a difference.

People often wonder how I got into recruitment. The most common answer is that ‘I fell into it’ which in some senses is true for myself too but it wasn’t that simple. Once I decided that I wanted to make the move from finance I began to bounce ideas around with my close network of friends, many of who work in sales and recruitment. I did my homework and realised that there were recurring themes that I felt I could bring to the table; resilience, determination, drive, ambition. I could even translate my finance knowledge into recruiting finance people into businesses. This would not only mean that I could find the correct people for my clients but I would have good credibility within the industry.

I secured my first role in recruitment and nine months later I made the move to Morgan McKinley where I focus on recruiting pat-qualified and transactional-level finance into the professional services and property space which is a good mix from my background. There have been a number of hurdles along the way but I have found this the most challenging role I have worked in with no two days the same.

Here are my top tips for making a career transition:

1) Utilise what you already know and find a way to translate it into your new role. In my case it did seem a shame to throw away seven years of experience in a finance function as well as an internationally recognised qualification. 

2) Make a decision and stick with it. The hardest thing when moving jobs is what the end goal/next role will be. It can be made much harder when you are constantly changing your mind and don’t have any focus.

3) Research the industry. Once you have an idea in your head about the career move really research it. Look at the major companies, try reach out to people who have had experiences in the industry (good or bad) and really get a flavour for what it is all about. 

If you are currently working in finance I would be happy to discuss your career options with you, whether it be transitioning your knowledge into the recruitment industry or your career path within accountancy and finance. 

Ryan Kuhn's picture
Consultant | Financial Services Operations, London


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