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Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Interview prep to help you ace the interview

Written by: Diane Delgado LeMaire, Senior Managing Director, CFS Houston

I put this together a few years ago. I have learned a lot over the years about interview techniques from mistakes my candidates and clients have made. Yes, I have made some too along the way. Below is a summary of tips I have learned and/or read online. Some of them should be self-explanatory, but sadly they are not.  I call this my "2 Page Interview Prep". There are a lot of things I like to give my candidates to get ready for an interview, but this is the most important one. I hope you learn something new or hold on to it for future reference.

Interview Preparation
The more prepared you are the more confident you will be!
  • Buy a portfolio if you do not have one.
  • Make copies of your resume and reference list.
  • Make sure your suit is dry-cleaned and ready!!!! Yes, you have to wear a suit!
  • Do your research! Go to the company website, Yahoo Finance, Hoovers and MSN Money. Look for goals and objectives, corporate culture and any new press releases. This information will be imperative for the interview.
  • Google the company name and the interviewer’s name.
  • Compare your resume to the job description. Think about accomplishments you can point out. Make sure you can explain all reasons for leaving. Make the responses short and to the point. Never, ever say anything negative about an employer in an interview. Believe it or not, it IS a very small world.
  • Prepare a list of at least 5 questions per interviewer and have them ready in your portfolio. Please put some thought into them!
  • Make sure you have the directions.
  • Role-play with anyone!!! Interviewing is not your profession. You have to practice!!!! Practice the hard to answer questions. You never want to sound scripted or that you are fishing for an answer. If you do not know how to answer specific questions, ask your recruiter for advice!!!!

The Day of the Interview:
Don’t forget to smile and have a positive attitude. First impressions can make or break an interview!
  • Arrive Early (if you do not know the location drive by the night before)
  • Review your notes before you go in.
  • Give yourself a prep talk (you should be a little bit nervous, this is normal).
  • Walk in with confidence and tell the receptionist whom you are there to see.
  • Make sure you are looking for your interviewer. Do not sit and read. Sit with confidence and a smile on your face!!!!
  • Don’t forget a firm handshake. If you have a tendency to have sweaty palms, wash your hands with really cold water before you enter the reception area.
  • If you have a problem with direct eye contact, look at their eyebrows. They will never know the difference.

The Interview:
Don’t worry- if you have done your homework, you are well on your way.
  • Rule number 1…People love to talk about themselves. Don’t forget to ask about the interviewer’s background and why they like working for their employer.
  • It is very important to establish rapport. Look for commonalities.
  • Ask to have a typical day described to you; ask about projects and how you can make an immediate impact. Remember: The employer is probably doing his job and the one you are interviewing for as well. The more you can help, the more likely they are to hire you.
  • Talk about your accomplishment and goals. Be prepared to talk about challenges and how you met them.
  • Always know the answer to strength and weakness question. Don’t forget about your 5-year goal.
  • Make sure you ask the questions you prepared. Don’t forget to include questions to better understand the job and what it would take to be successful.
  • Don’t ask about benefits or money. This is about the job and the company. Your recruiter can get you that information.
  • If the money question comes up tell them it is more about the opportunity and you are sure they would make you a fair and competitive offer. If they press you tell them what you are making. If they keep pushing you give them a range. Never, ever give them a number!!! And do not put a number on their application.
  • Don’t forget to ask a lot of questions and show enthusiasm. Most candidates are cut from the process simply because the manager does not think the candidate is interested.

The Close:
This is your chance to bring it all together.
  • Tell them you are interested.
  • Ask if there are any concerns about your ability to do the job. This is your last chance to sell yourself!!!!
  • Explain that after learning more about the company and the position you are even more excited about this opportunity. Review the experience you can contribute and ask for the job or the next step in the process.

The Follow up:
  • Call your recruiter immediately. It is essential that we speak to you before we speak to the client to understand your interest level.
  • Very few candidates actually write a thank you note. I recommend an email immediately after and a hand written note as well.

Have more questions about interviewing? Please comment below or contact one of our recruiters. Find the closest office to you at

Senior Managing Director
CFS Houston

Thursday, July 23, 2015

5 interview reminders to help get you the job

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Networking with your past

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics[1], 70% of people land their jobs through networking. Aside from your killer resume, cover letter, and portfolio, there is no greater ‘in’ than someone who is already ‘in’. It’s intimidating to reach out to someone you haven’t spoken to in a while, especially when you’re asking for a something that only benefits you. In this case, it’s okay to be a little selfish, but it’s also crucial that you approach the person in the correct and appropriate way.

Depending on how well you know your contact, directly asking for a job can be aggressive and even create tension with that person. There’s a better approach. Email them and ask about how they got into their position, or ask for some feedback on working at the company. Be sure to showcase your interest and craving for a job with their company in the email. Show that you’ve done your research and that you are truly passionate for an opportunity there. It doesn’t hurt to give value statements on how you can benefit the company as well.

Sending an email gives your contact time to prepare a response. If you can, try to schedule a meeting with this person. It’s more personable, and it will help build that relationship for the future. If all goes smoothly, your contact will be willing to share prospective job opportunities and give advice on how to get hired.

Always have a business card ready to give the person you’re meeting with, that way they have your contact information and a better chance to remember you down the road. You should always write them a thank you card afterward to express your gratitude.

If there are no current opportunities with the company, you still want to build a relationship with your contact. You need to periodically stay in touch with this person because you never know when you’ll need their help again. It’s also easier to give a reference when they know you more personally. Don’t limit yourself to this one contact! Build a networking relationship with anyone who could help throughout your career. It’s not always what you know, but who you know.

Bonus Tip: There’s also a great networking asset right at your fingertips! LinkedIn is an excellent way to connect with people you’ve worked with/met in the past. Contacting someone on there is easy, accessible, and professional. To give yourself an extra boost, ask people to write a recommendation on your LinkedIn page. It’s a great way for potential employers to learn about you beyond your resume, and it helps you stand out in the job search.

Have more questions on networking? Feel free to comment below or contact one of our recruiters. Find the closest office to you at


Monday, July 20, 2015

It's time to revamp your resume

The entire process of writing a resume can be overwhelming. What do you include? How long should it be? Do you need an objective? The list of questions can go on forever, but don't feel stressed.

The experts at Creative Financial Staffing in Houston have made the resume-writing process much easier for you:
  • Recruiters LOVE chronological resumes. We want to see how you have grown in your career and what types of companies you have worked for. 
  • If you graduated within the past 5 years, keep your education on the top portion of your resume.
  • If you have a CPA, CIA, or CFE designation, put it behind your name on the top of the resume. Don’t hide it at the bottom- you earned it and you should show it off!
  • If you are eligible to sit for an exam or have passed sections, add that to the education section of your resume. This is important to employers today.
  • Always, always use bullet points. No one has time to read paragraphs. 
  • Objectives aren’t necessary, and could hurt you if it doesn’t align correctly with the job. If you feel like you need it, make sure to change the objective for every position you apply to.
  • Short summary sections or tables are great to highlight your background. 
  • Did you get promoted or move into another group at the same company? Include that in your resume, but don’t re-write the company name each time. At first glance, you can look like a job hopper rather than a promotable candidate. 
  • Do you volunteer? Were you in the military? Active Greek Alumni? Including this shows some personality on your resume. 
  • Don’t forget to add your software skills. This is crucial in such a tech-driven time. If you know the versions and modules you are working with, it’s beneficial to include them. Are you an advanced Excel user (VLOOKUP, Marcos, Pivot Tables)? Mention that too if relevant to the job. 
  • Your resume can be longer than a page, but never longer than 3 pages MAX. 
  • Don’t put a bullet point on your resume for something you can’t back up. Being exposed to or watching someone else do something does not mean you have mastered that skill. Never lie on your resume! 
  • If you’re a recent graduate and your GPA was above a 3.0, be sure to include that along with your graduation date(s). 
  • Remember, your resume is your marketing piece. Most recruiters spend about 10 seconds looking at your resume before they decide if they will keep it or toss it. That is not a long time to make a first impression, so make sure it’s a good one. 
  • You should update your resume at least once a year. Write down your latest accomplishments, add new responsibilities you took on, or recent software programs or ERPs you worked with.
      Do you still have questions about your resume? Please visit here to find a CFS location closest to you!

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

7 Words Destroying Your Credibility at Work

When speaking with a client, a boss, or even a coworker, you want them to take you seriously. You don’t want to give any reasons to doubt your credibility, but there are seemingly innocent words that you might be using that are working against you.

It’s fine to use “like” in reference to similes, Facebook approval, or a strong positive feeling. Where “like” goes wrong is when it’s used as a filler or in substitution of a better verb. The overuse of like conjures up images from “Valley Girl” and “Clueless.” While those movies are pop culture classics, it’s not the professional image you want to leave with your clients. Using this word incorrectly can take power away from what you’re saying and make you sound callow.

This can be a tough one to fix for some people, but it’s doable. When you’re persistently conscious of every word you say, you’ll notice how often you use “like”, and it will be easier to stop. You’ll start to catch yourself from saying it. Once you stop, you will sound much more polished.

I’m almost finished. I almost made it. I almost got the job.

While this word seems okay, all it does is mask the truth. What it’s really saying is I didn’t finish, I didn’t make it, I didn’t get the job. This word doesn’t portray you as the confident, successful professional that you are. It alludes to missed chances and lack of work ethic. Instead of using almost, give the progress you’ve made and an approximate time it will take to finish.
Almost only counts in horseshoes and hand grenades, so let’s stop using it in the workplace.

You Know
The problem with “you know” is that when it’s overused, the listener often does not know.  Someone will be describing an experience, then trail off to “you know” or use it as a filler. They don’t know! That’s why you were explaining it, you know?

You can erase “you know” at the end of almost every sentence you say, and it will still make sense. If you need to add something to the end of what you’re saying, give an explanation so the listener better understands. You will also sound more professional that way.

As cheesy and overused as it is, “do or do not, there is no try” is a great mantra when it comes to your work credibility. When you tell someone you will try to do something, it implies that you don’t care enough to actually follow through. You lose your credibility when you continue to try, but never actually DO.

Instead of saying, “I tried to call Business Y”, use “I called Business Y twice now, left 1 message, and will be following up next Thursday.” This shows you have consciously set an action plan instead of “trying” and just giving up.

Might is a lot like try- there’s no tangible way to measure something you might do (or even worse, “might try to do”). You will never build credibility based on “might”. Instead of saying “I might do that”, change it to “I will do that”. It banishes any uncertainty and shows that you are being proactive. It will also hold you accountable, making you look more reliable when you follow through.

Don’t wish for something to happen, make it happen. Every time you say “I wish…” change it to “I will…”

Instead of sounding like a daydreamer, you sound like a driven person with goals. “I will have Business Y as my client” sounds a lot better than “I wish Business Y was my client.”

If you are using “literally” in a sentence, it means you are describing something as it actually happened and not exaggerating. When you are using it to try and make a story more exciting or a situation worse than it truly was, people can see right through it. You don’t want this to happen with a client. It would literally be the worst thing to happen (kidding).

All jokes aside, this is a word you should focus on removing from your everyday vocabulary. Exaggerating your stories will hurt your credibility versus establishing it. Instead of trying to fluff up what you’re saying, just say it how it is. Be real with people, and they’ll do the same with you.

Thursday, July 9, 2015

How to stay organized during your job search

Your job search can become overwhelming very quickly, especially if you don’t have a plan.  Proper organization tactics can help you stay on top of your job hunt while also maintaining a positive attitude. Keep your strategies simple and develop a routine that works for you.

To keep track of your job search, create an Excel spreadsheet or use Google Spreadsheets if you use multiple computers. Add a title row at the top that lists the company’s name, position, due date, submission date, required documents, date of an interview, status, and a link to the job posting. If there is a contact name or email listed, it’s helpful to create a column for that as well.

Set aside a folder in your e-mail strictly for your job search. You’ll feel better having these emails in one place. When you schedule an interview, it’s absolutely vital that you put the appointment into your calendar of choice – desk calendar, email calendar, personal planner, etc. If you miss an interview then you miss the job opportunity.

Set goals. Depending on your daily schedule, you’ll want to want to set a goal of how many jobs you apply for in a day. Not only will this help set the pace of your routine as you go, it holds you accountable to reach your goal.

Use sticky notes. If an idea or job position passes through your head but you think, “eh, maybe not”, then write it on a sticky note and put it to your computer/wall/desk. When you revisit that idea, you might change you mind and decide you want to apply. This is much easier than racking your brain because you forgot.

Designate a location. Choose a specific spot, perhaps your desk, to spend most of your time while you job search. Be sure that this space is a good environment to work in because a job search is essentially a second job. Rid this space of distractions. There’s nothing worse than forgetting a document in your application or making a small silly error, so pay attention and stay focused!

Your goals paired with your organization routine will act as landmarks that will keep you on track throughout the process. Our recruiters here at Creative Financial Staffing are also a great resource during your job search, and their assistance can help relieve stress. Visit to see all of our locations. Good luck!