What to Expect from Your First Accounting Job


For most of your life you’ve attended school and known what to expect. You’ve probably held down a job, and balanced work, life and academic demands reasonably well. But your first accounting job is a different animal altogether. Unless you’ve had co-op experience, your expectations of your first accounting job may not be realistic. Here’s how to manage your expectations and ensure that you stand out for all the right reasons.

Steep Learning Curve

While you understand accounting theory, putting it into practice can be challenging. Your first role will come with a steep learning curve. Be willing to ask questions and recognize it’s a learning process.


Part of succeeding in your first accounting job is understanding the deliverables you’re responsible for. Take time to clarify your manager’s expectations of you and what success looks like at the 3 and 6 month mark. This will help you make a plan to meet and exceed your role’s outcomes.


You’re going to make mistakes. That’s part of the learning process. It’s how you respond to them, however, that’s important. Here are a few tips for recovering from a mistake at work:

  • Admit the error
  • Offer a solution
  • Be open to feedback
  • Own the consequences
  • Be professional

For more insight into how to make a mistake and still emerge with your professional brand and job intact read “Accountants – How to Recover from Making a Mistake at Work.

Advancement Varies

Do not expect to advance up the corporate ladder quickly. Operate from a posture of service. The more you do, the more you’ll learn and this includes the accountant’s version of grunt work. Be open to feedback and make changes if they are asked of you.

Navigate Office Politics

Every job comes with its own version of office politics. Don’t participate in office gossip, and try to maintain your professionalism at all times.

Read this blog to understand why ignoring office politics can be good for your accounting career (and mental health).

Build Relationships

While technical expertise can be one of the key pillars of a successful accountant, so too is an ability to communicate across different levels of an organization.  In your role it’s likely you’ll need to connect with finance and non-finance people. This means you’ll need strong interpersonal skills and a knowledge of how to position information to increase understanding.

Pro Tip: The most important relationship you can build is with a mentor. Here are two resources that will help you identify and connect with a mentor.

Key Takeaways

Starting your first accounting job can feel intimidating. Understand your manager’s expectations and take the time to nail down your deliverables. Navigate office politics carefully and build relationships cross-functionally. Know that you may not advance up the corporate ladder at the speed you’d like to. Accept that you’re going to make mistakes and that this is a time of learning – of putting theory into practice. Most of all, try to identify someone who could be a mentor for you and forge a relationship with them. It’s likely to be the most important connection you’ll make.

Your Next Step
No one should walk the job search or hiring road alone.  At Clarity Recruitment we help others realize their success through a process that marries proprietary technology with unwavering commitment.  Contact us today to take control of your career, or to partner with us to hire well.

Clarity Recruitment, connecting exceptional people with remarkable companies.

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