How to get a start in auditing

I often (and I mean OFTEN) get asked what is the best way to get a job as an auditor? I always give the same advice and it seems the advice works. Or at least it has worked for several people.

So, for what its worth, here it is.

The more useable and chargeable you are, the more attractive you’ll be

Auditors that can audit systems to multiple standards are always going to be more attractive to an employer than those with smaller and narrower niches. Certification Bodies need to make money and the more money you can make for them, the more interested they will be in you. The big three are obviously ISO 9001, 14001 and ISO 45001/OHSAS 18001. That’s where the volumes of chargeable days will be, so if you are suitably qualified and experienced in all three standards, the more chargeable days work they will think they will get out of you.

Present yourself as a low maintenance auditor

Certification Bodies can do without the hassle that a high maintenance auditor can bring to their door. They don’t want some opinionated ego-monster that is going to rub clients up the wrong way. They don’t want somebody they need to keep on a short leash, they don’t want somebody they have to constantly chase to get reports submitted, and they don’t want somebody whose report is such a dog’s dinner when it reaches the office they have to send it right back to get rewritten. They don’t want somebody too fond of late starts, long lunches and early finishes. They want a person they think will arrive on-time, after having a wash beforehand and not stinking of drink. Someone who will do the agreed job as per the agreed plan, and stay until its done. Somebody that will generate and retain the required records and behave themselves whilst on the client’s premises. Somebody that will submit a good standard of report to the office on time, and with a sufficient level of evidence and detail that could withstand an appeal and, potentially, a second look by UKAS. Low maintenance.

Don’t try to be flash. Flash Harry invariably requires a lot of managing. They absolutely want “Mr/Ms Dependable”. Believe me.

How to get a start with limited experience?

Again a question I get asked a lot. On the face of it, its a chicken and egg scenario. To get a job I need experience, but I can’t get experience without a job.

A tactic I’ve seen work for a couple of people in the past has been to concentrate initially on your training and qualifications. Become at least a qualified person. Anyone can do this although it does rely on putting some time and money into yourself as a project first. This shows an employer 3 things. First that you’ve got some useful qualifications (and you might well as a result be cheaper for them to train) and second that you’ve got some initiative, work ethic and determination, and third that you’ve taken a punt on yourself before you’ve asked them to take a punt on you.

The next step in this process is to be realistic about what your point of entry into employment is likely to be. The best jobs and best paid jobs will be the most sought after. Employers will be able to pick and choose and there are likely to be more attractive candidates then yourself.

However the job market sector I regularly suggest people looking for a start should target is short term and interim contracts. That could be coming into a company during a busy period, or covering a specific time limited project, or covering a staff absence such as maternity leave. These jobs crop up all the time and are generally less saturated with high calibre applications than full time permanent positions. Also, because they are fixed term, temporary, you’re much more likely to find an employer willing to give you a whirl. Short term contracts can also be quite well paid.

So to summarise, be qualified, be easy to manage, leave your ego at the door and be realistic.

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