Frank Wdowczyk, CPA, CGA

Inside Clarity’s Career Accelerator: Going Above and Beyond

Frank Wdowczyk, CPA, CGA
Often in a candidate pool, there exist many unqualified applicants. Of the tens to hundreds who apply to a job, only 5-10 are a suitable fit. It’s not that many of the others aren’t great candidates; they simply don’t possess the qualifications for that specific role...yet. Often, it’s because they haven’t fully developed the necessary skills, come from another geography without transferable work experience, or are re-entering the workforce after an extended absence. What can be done to help these soon-to-be great candidates?

At Clarity, one of our core values is “Help Others Realize Their Success.” Part of how we apply that is through our unique Career Accelerator service, which is designed simply as a way of giving back, no strings attached. The focus is not to find jobs for these candidates, but rather to help them get more control over their search through targeted guidance and coaching to get them several steps closer to landing that next great assignment.

We treat candidates the same way we treat clients. Through a positive experience, we know that someday our candidates may become our clients too.

Quick Facts

  • When did it launch? Early 2018
  • How many candidates have we helped? As of Feb 2019, 195 candidates
  • What does the service involve?
    • Coaching and Guidance on your Resume and LinkedIn Profile
    • Personal Branding
    • Job Search Strategies
    • Networking and Mentoring Opportunities
    • Referrals to Other Agencies and more
  • Who is service for? Designated Finance and Accounting professionals, mostly CPAs, currently residing in Canada who are struggling to find their next job

We had the opportunity to sit down with Frank Wdowczyk, CPA, CGA, who heads up our Career Accelerator to learn more about the service, how it helps, and what others can do to accelerate their own careers.  

Why do you do it?

Something that was stressed upon me on one of my first days in the recruiting world over 10 years ago was that, “you can’t help everyone.” Regardless of this advice I was still able to become a top recruiter while also being able to help candidates when possible. I’m excited that Clarity Recruitment is breaking new ground by carving out this dedicated role that isn’t necessarily focused on the bottom line but more on helping the individual. The reality is that this position is exciting because of what it can teach us about a new candidate pool. Clarity is truly standing behind its mission to “help others realize their success.”

How does the service differ from other coaching services out there?

Well for one, it’s a free service. It’s also focused vertically within the accounting and finance industry and run by industry experts with decades of experience in recruitment.

What advice do you commonly give?

A lot of the candidates I work with have limited networks and no prior Canadian work experience. I encourage them to use their recruiters but use their time to apply to jobs directly and network. In order to acquire that Canadian experience, you may need to be flexible and take a step back, maybe two. The ones who do well are the ones who say, “I don’t care about the compensation, just get the experience.” They take the gamble on themselves. A lot of the time you have to take that risk and make that sacrifice. It isn’t fair but it’s how it is.

A common resume and LinkedIn tweak is to place your designation right next to your name. Canada is very designation oriented. Also for those coming from outside of Canada, hiring managers may gloss over work experience where they don’t recognize the company. By providing a frame of who the company is (e.g. “They are the like the Walmart of India”) and including the company’s revenue size, you give the reader context of where you’ve been.

Lastly, I spend a lot of time on what they are doing in their search. People are spending too much time on job boards. Apply to the job you’re excited about and get over it - 97% of the time you aren’t going to hear back. Don’t waste your time. Look into LinkedIn for common threads. Look for people in HR and reach out to them directly by sending them a short note saying, “I’d like to connect with you and get 3-5 minutes of your time.” Take control of your search.

Can you share some recent stories from the Career Accelerator?

Out of the hundreds of conversations I’ve had in the last year, one of my favorites was with an MBA from India who recently moved to Canada. He was in a job that he referred to as his survival job. I coached him on where he should be putting his efforts and he eventually landed a job at Accenture. Six months later, I was connected with a candidate with a very similar background and introduced the two of them purely as a networking opportunity. He ended up recommending her to Accenture, and she joined shortly after.

Another candidate with no prior Canadian work experience landed a role through his persistent networking efforts. He recalls, “I could reminisce [Frank’s] words: I was just at the right place at the right time and one can not do that by sitting inside your home.” Prior to working with Frank, the candidate had approached over 1,200 people on LinkedIn. A mere 60 responded, and just 10 agreed to meet with him. Through the Career Accelerator, he was encouraged to expand his network by asking to meet with friends of friends and actively attend social and industry events. He was randomly introduced through a mutual contact at an event to his soon-to-be-boss.

Your Next Step

Are you a designated CPA who is in transition and struggling to find your next opportunity? We can help. Get in touch with us at accelerator@findingclarity.ca today.

Clarity Recruitment, connecting exceptional people with remarkable companies.


Finding Your Perfect Organizational Culture

From the outside looking in, it can be hard to tell what the work culture and environment of a company is really like. Here’s how you can figure out if an organization is the right fit for you.

“Fit.” Nothing is harder to evaluate in job candidates than their potential match with a company’s culture — how well they will mesh with an organization, its personnel and politics, its written and unwritten rules, and the like. Ask any hiring manager: trying to find the right match between your company’s corporate culture, on the one hand, and a candidate’s personality, on the other, is as inexact a science as they come.

Yet if finding fit can often feel more like alchemy than algebra, few things are more critical for the success of a hire. People are hired for fit — and fired for a lack thereof. And in a relatively tight job market, with a surplus of skilled and experienced people looking for opportunities, employers can afford to be picky and to hold out for the candidates best suited for their organizations — individuals who not only possess the desired qualifications, but also have the character, attitude, and values to match that of their new coworkers and company.

But employers aren’t the only ones looking for the right fit between candidate and culture. Down economy or not, jobseekers — even those who are looking for a rebound job — want to be in positive work environments. A big fat paycheque with plenty of zeroes, a long, fancy title that leaves you out of breath, and a brisk five-minute commute that doesn’t — what good are all of those if you’re miserable? No one wants to be in a workplace where people are afraid, because everyone has a hidden agenda, or where they feel like the odd man or woman out, because they’re the only ones to leave the office early to go home to their families, while their mostly single co-workers toil away into the wee hours of the evening. Rather, we want to work somewhere we feel that we belong and fit in and can thrive, for an employer whose values and priorities are closely aligned with our own.

A company’s culture, however, can be tough to evaluate from the outside. The truth is that you may not really be able to know what a work environment is really like until you’ve been in it for some time, i.e., until you’ve started working there. And there’s the rub: by far the best, and easiest, way to cope with a bad corporate culture is to simply not be drawn into it in the first place. Still, there are some ways for you to figure out whether a company is the right fit for you, though they require you to do a bit of sleuthing beforehand. Here are some tips for determining the prevailing culture at a company.

Know what kind of culture you’re looking for

To see if a company is the right fit for you, you first need to have an idea of the ideal kind of work culture or environment you’re actually looking for, and would make you the most happy and productive. That, of course, will require a bit of soul-searching and thoughtful introspection on your part, to identify where your values and priorities lie. What type of company do you want to work for? What do you want out of your next job and employer? To be close and chummy with your coworkers and bosses, or to be in a more formal corporate environment where there’s a clearer separation of personal and professional roles? Do you want to be part of a tightly-knit team, or to be left to your own devices, with the freedom and independence to do as you please? Would you prefer to belong to a company where seniority counts for less than merit and a newbie can leapfrog a veteran staffer based on their performance, or an outfit where company loyalty and tenure are prized over all else?

There’s no “right” or “wrong” answer to any of these questions. Nor are they always mutually exclusive. The point is simply that all of us will value some things more than others, or not at all — different strokes for different folks, after all. Determine what really matters to you, what you’re willing to negotiate or move on, and what you’re unwilling to compromise whatsoever.

Once you’ve taken a thorough inventory of your core values and beliefs, you can narrow your search to employers whose work cultures and styles accord with your own. A start-up, for example, may require a greater commitment in terms of time from its members, since getting a company off the ground and then scaling it rapidly demands that everyone pitch in (usually with the promise of shared prosperity). That may not be ideal for you, if one of your priorities is to have enough time for a life outside of the office. Similarly, a company with a fiercely competitive spirit, that’s gunning for the top spot in its industry, may be ill-suited for you. At all events, when you know what kind of a workplace you’re looking to be a part of, you can tailor your research and questions to determine if a prospective employer is suited for your style and temperament.

But the search for fit cuts both ways. Employers aren’t the only ones looking for the perfect match between candidate and culture.

Avail yourself of online resources

I’ve talked before about how important it is for candidates today to actively manage their online presences by maintaining and updating their social media profiles on LinkedIn, Facebook, and other such sites; more and more hiring managers, after all, are screening employees by reviewing applicants’ profiles on social networking sites. But the Internet and social media haven’t just made it easier for employers to learn about candidates — they’ve also made it easier for candidates to learn about employers. In particular, popular sites like Glassdoor.com, RateMyEmployer.ca, and Vault.com, where current and former employees can post comments about their experiences working at or being recruited by a company, provide invaluable, firsthand information about the corporate culture of an organization, which you wouldn’t otherwise be able to get from mission statements or canned pitches.

As with all online reviews, you should take what you read with a grain of salt. After all, the people who might be motivated to comment on Glassdoor.com could have an axe to grind or an agenda to promote — for example, disgruntled ex-employees, or company apologists. Another, perhaps more reliable — albeit also more time-consuming — means of learning what it’s like to work at a company is to contact current employees, through your network on LinkedIn. (Of course, if you personally know someone who works there, you can always seek them out through old-fashioned means.) Either way, it’s always instructive to have an insider’s perspective. There’s nothing like hearing it from the horse’s mouth.

Also, consider looking at clients’ reviews and opinions, if these are available on industry crowdsourcing sites (e.g., Yelp). Remember: if a company doesn’t treat its customers properly, it’s unlikely to treat its employees much better.

Remember: if a company doesn’t treat its customers properly, it’s unlikely to treat its employees much better.

In my next post, I’ll describe some of the visual clues that a hawk-eyed candidate can pick up on, when they visit a company, as well as the questions they should ask, in order to determine how they do things around there. Stay tuned!

Let us know what you think! At Clarity Recruitment, we’re always interested in hearing from accounting and finance professionals like yourselves, who are ready for new, exciting opportunities that can take their careers to the next level. And be sure to follow us on Twitter (@clarityrecruits) and connect with us on Facebook for more great tips and advice!


Work Abroad to Advance Your Finance Career at Home

For many of us the thought of working abroad fills us with trepidation. We ask ourselves if our future career will be negatively impacted, or if the skills we gain working abroad will transfer successfully to our home country. The reality is that there are a number of advantages to be gained working abroad, regardless of whether it is our first step in creating a viable financial career, or a step that our present company requires of us.

The reality is that there are a number of advantages to be gained working abroad, regardless of whether it is our first step in creating a viable financial career…

Develops Cross-Cultural Competence – There is no doubt that globalization has reshaped the flow of information, goods and services throughout the world. Working abroad can foster the cross- cultural competence that many Canadian companies are looking for as they seek to expand their overseas or even domestic operations. A prospective employee, who shows that he/she can live in another country, while advancing the company’s objectives, is a valuable asset indeed. In addition, companies who are not Canadian, but want to establish themselves in Canada, value someone who has a multi-cultural perspective. Taking a job with a company that is located in another country, but has global brand awareness, can also position you for success back home. It may help you build your global network and potentially aid you in making the transition back to Canada when you are ready. Regardless of your motivation for working abroad, the reality is that most major industries in Canada now consider cross-cultural competence a significant asset.

In addition, companies who are not Canadian, but want to establish themselves in Canada, value someone who has a multi-cultural perspective.

Builds Confidence – Nothing builds confidence like coping with the challenges of living in a new country and being successful. This type of confidence is unique in that it comes from pushing yourself, testing your limits and emerging a stronger, more capable person. In an interview, it is this confidence that makes the hiring agent believe that you can handle whatever is thrown at you and that your ability to deliver on goals, regardless of circumstances, is not in doubt.

This type of confidence is unique in that it comes from pushing yourself, testing your limits and emerging a stronger, more capable person.

Demonstrates versatility, entrepreneurship, independence and resourcefulness –How resourceful are you? In order to live abroad you must have a flexible and resourceful personality. Businesses today want individuals who are versatile, and able to transition seamlessly between one demand and the next. Working abroad fosters an entrepreneurial mindset, where calculated risks are taken and adaptability is the name of the game. These skills are prized in today’s fast moving organizations. If you do work abroad, take the time to embrace the culture, get to know the people and accept that things will not always go the way you expect them to. The food, culture and way of life will be different. It takes a truly resourceful person to excel in another country and companies value resourcefulness.

Working abroad fosters an entrepreneurial mindset, where calculated risks are taken and adaptability is the name of the game.

If you are considering working abroad, research where the real opportunities are. In finance, perhaps more than in any other professional sector, there can be a strong ‘disconnect’ between where people would like to live abroad, and where the opportunities are. Ask yourself what your goals are in seeking a position in another country. Is it for the experience, or to position yourself for advancement? What opportunities does your current organization offer for you to work in another country? Are you doing it for the adventure and challenge of ‘making it work’ overseas? Perhaps you want exposure to a world-class brand. Regardless of your motivation, rest assured that in today’s global marketplace, a resourceful, confident person, with cross-cultural competence, is a highly desirable employee for any company.