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About In House Tax

About In House Tax

This weblog is a news and views site for tax professionals within the UK and international in-house tax community.  You will find information about appointments and people moves in and around the in-house tax market, issues affecting the in-house tax professional, opinions on the state of the tax job market, updates on tax technology, and other general thoughts of the day.

Hope you find it useful.

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Location: St Albans, United Kingdom

This site has been developed by Simon Godley, who also runs the niche tax recruitment company Talentpool Selection . Simon spends a lot of his time placing tax specialists into FTSE companies, large in-bound groups and some professional services organisations. He also recruits and is well networked around the UK tax technology and VAT markets.

Tax News

Back into tax after a career break

Monday, 29 October 2007

By Simon Godley 29 October 2007

I have recently worked with two tax candidates, both looking to get back into the tax market following rather lengthy career breaks. One had decided to move on from a Tax Manager role with a major London bank, and take a cultural sabbatical to Latin America, lasting 3 years. The other person had been offered an attractive pay-off from a professional firm in late 2001, and decided to pursue various academic interests, amounting to a 5 year career break.
Both candidates found good quality tax positions within a matter of months. Both had to take a step back in level, but my feeling is that within a one to two year time frame, they will both be back up to a level where they left off before their career breaks.

Time Out of Tax
The longer you take out of the tax market, the higher the risk of not being able to get back in. Tax is an area which is constantly changing, and so the landscape can look very different if you haven’t been around for, say, 3 years. If however you decide to go off travelling for 6-12 months, and cannot arrange unpaid leave with your employer, then getting back into a new job on your return shouldn’t take too long, depending on the underlying demand in the market on your return. This latter point is key - if you had decided to go trekking in the Himalayas for 12 months at the point when Enron collapsed, you may have found a few more ‘closed doors’ on your return. In fact given the current nervousness in the financial markets, now may not be the ideal time to take a (short) career break.

Practice vs Industry
Depending on your role and tax experience before the career break, you may be looking at a route back into a tax team within the professional firms, or into an in-house tax role. If your previous experience has been largely corporate tax within industry, then you will undoubtedly find least resistance to finding a role back in industry. If however you have grown up within a Big Four corporate tax team, for example, then you could look at roles within both practice and industry. If you have taken a long career break (18 months or more) then instantly stepping back into a professional firm could be more difficult, as there is more of an emphasis on being technically up to date and conversing fluently with clients on complex tax matters. Industry can be less concerned about technical know-how, with the emphasis being on practical tax accounting skills, and to be able to communicate and connect well with senior finance and business heads in the group. Things like interpersonal skills and commercial maturity will hopefully not wear off, and indeed may improve, through taking a career break.

Getting back in – some tips
• Closely review new roles appearing on tax job sites and the tax press, for example, and and respond to those that closely match your prior technical experience
• Apply for interim roles e.g. 3-6 months tax contracts in industry, requiring your prior technical experience. This will get you back up to speed with some of the tax rules, and could possibly lead into a permanent role
• Use your network – contact ex-bosses and colleagues to see if they can point you to a route back in. They may have heard of roles in the market, and your ex-boss my offer you a job again, should you be happy going back to the same employer
• Keep in close contact with recruiters – if there is now a gap on the CV because of a career break, then making it onto a shortlist for a role will be more difficult. You need to be regularly picking up the phone to them, keeping on their radar for when new roles/contracts come up
• Do some technical reading to find out which areas of tax have mostly changed in the time you have been away. This will not help to get you interviews, but ultimately will show in the interview that you are making efforts to get back to speed

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posted by Simon Godley


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