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Common Accounting Mistakes Beginners Make and How to Avoid Them

Online DegreesAugust 13, 2015

Starting any new job, including one in accounting, can be stressful. Learning your new employer's policies and procedures takes time, and those first few month-end closings may be difficult until you gain familiarity with the accounting system. To help you transition into your new career, seek out a mentor, either inside or outside of your company. This mentor should be someone with whom you are comfortable asking questions or admitting your confusion. Also, try to keep in mind and avoid some of the most common accounting mistakes made by beginners.

1: Not Asking Enough Questions

Stepping into a new job can often be intimidating, especially when everyone but you has an understanding of the company's financial statement preparation process. If you do not feel comfortable speaking up in a meeting in which a ton of information is whizzing by you, sit down with your manager or a coworker independently. Remember, if you aren't asking questions, then others will assume that you know what you are doing. No one expects a new person to know everything on their first day at a job. To increase work efficiency, jot down a list of questions that occur to you throughout the work week. Hold your questions for a slow period, such as after the monthly close, and then schedule time to speak with someone who can properly address your concerns.

2: Spending Too Much Time on Something a Computer Can Do

In some instances, it may seem easier to complete a process by hand. For new accountants, this situation occurs because they may not understand the system well enough or they do not trust the results they are seeing. This is understandable for a new employee, but it can also exponentially slow down accounting work. Time is often better spent learning how to use accounting software rather than manually trying to work around it. If a computer system has been put in place by the company, rest assured that it has been audited and checked by the technology and internal audit departments. Feel free to use the help screens or call the help line for technical assistance. If you still do not feel comfortable with your results, bring the issue up to your manager and work towards a resolution together.

3: Failing to Keep up With the Industry

After spending time studying for an online accounting degree, you may be tempted to take a break from technical learning, but in accounting, change is constant. Many accounting mistakes result from failure to implement new industry requirements. To ensure that you are aware of updates to accounting standards, add the FASB website under your favorites and check it frequently for changes. Read accounting journals or blogs. If you are preparing taxes, search the IRS website for tax law changes. Also, take advantage of continuing education offered by your new company. By being aware of the latest changes in your industry and communicating them to others, you will increase your reputation as an expert in your field. Every new job has its challenges, so don't hesitate to ask for help and learn from your coworkers. After a few weeks or a few months, you will be amazed at how far you've come. Photo Source: Flickr 

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