Season 3 Episode #005 Should I do a Diploma Of Payroll or is hands-on experience more important?

When you're starting out in business or looking for a job, you may be wondering how to ‘get your foot in the door' if you don't have hands on experience. Is gaining a qualification ‘just a piece of paper' or will completing a formal qualification increase your chances of finding clients or a job?

Tune into the Bookkeepers' Voice Podcast as Amy Hooke, Bookkeeping business owner and mentor, explains the benefits of study but also how to know when it could be a waste of time.

Key takeaway: Zoom out and have a look at your big picture goals.

Podcast Info

Episode: S3E005

Series: FAQs

Host: Amy Hooke

Topic: Qualifications or hands-on experience?

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Should I do a Diploma Of Payroll or is hands-on experience more important?

Amy Hooke 0:01 Hello, welcome back. Today I'm going to just do a quick episode by myself today. So Maia is not with me. And I just thought I would jump on because I got an email. And they asked me a question about bookkeeping. And I thought, after typing the reply that this was actually a really cool thing to actually talk about. So basically, I just had someone, we're just recruiting a new bookkeeper at the moment, and somebody had applied for the role. And this person wasn't they weren't suitable for the role, but just because the level of experience wasn't as high as what I needed. But I at the time, wanted to thank the person for applying. Because I could see that she'd really made an effort on the application.

And so I wanted to just say thank you for applying and for making that extra effort. So, you know, when we, when we recruit a bookkeeper, we have the we have a, like a hiring process that we follow. And yes, I was going through, and I just, you know, one of the things that we do is we ask them to answer some questions on the cover letter. And you would be surprised how many people don't actually do this. So it was really interesting that, you know, to see the very small amount of applicants actually take the time to do that. So I wanted to just say thank you and to acknowledge that. And just to explain why they weren't being able to progress to the next step, and to wish them all the best. So was actually really good, because they wrote back to thank me and asked me a couple of extra questions.

And so one of the questions that was asked was, Do you think that I should complete a Diploma of payroll? Would it be useful in getting a job? Or is it just the hands on experience? That's really what employers are looking for? And I thought this was such a good question. And as I started to type out the answer, I thought, well, I'll just jump on here and share it with you guys. So a while ago, you may or may not have heard the episode that I did. I did an episode called How to Get bookkeeping clients if you have no experience. And so I'll share the link to that in the comments. This was an episode that I did, because obviously bookkeepers when they're first getting into starting their own business, and they're wanting to find their own clients, they're wanting to know, you know, how do I, how do I do this? And, you know, how to, or how do I get the experience prior to doing that, so that I can, you know, do this in the future? And so I did that episode quite some time ago. And you know, the answer in that the short answer is, how to get the clients without experience the answer, the short answer is to get experience. But then the question is, well, how how do I get experience if I don't have experience?

And you know, people that I'm looking to hire to apply for jobs with won't hire me, because I don't have experience. So it's sort of like a bit of a catch 22. But I think it's a really important topic. And so I do recommend that you have a listen to that. But I will, what I'm going to talk about now is just continues on a little bit from that particular topic. And it's a little bit more, it's even though this is related to an employee looking for employment, I think it still relates to that same topic of how to find clients if you don't have experience. And then also the specific question, which was, Do you think that I should do a Diploma of payroll in order to get my foot in the door?

So this can also apply to you if you are looking for payroll clients? So, you know, this is a really good question. I have heard very, very good things about the department deployment of payroll, I, off the top of my head, I know that there's an organisation called Monique institute that I'm not affiliated with in any way, but I've just seen conversations in the community talking about monarch being a great payroll diploma course to do, I'm sure there's others out there, but I don't personally know them. I've never, I have not done any payroll courses myself, except for the payroll skill set that became was part of doing the bass because I already had a Bachelor of Business, so I didn't need to do any, you know, additional courses, although that said, I do have before I did my degree, I did get a cert for in Office Administration, which had a focus on bookkeeping, and I did learn some basic payroll back then, but that was a very long time ago.

So for me, I got my payroll experience just through over the years, you know, obviously I did have those qualifications. So yes, there are benefits to having the qualifications. But at the same time, you also need to get that hands on experience because qualified occations on their own, are not enough. But because, you know, bookkeeping is technical, but payroll is like, quite easy, like another level up of being technical. So I think that the payroll qualification actually is, it's probably the it's probably even more beneficial for the bookkeeping qualification. That's just my opinion. But I think because it's quite technical, it's probably a good thing to do. I think one of the things so, you know, if we take a step back, do studying is good. Regardless of what the topic is, you know, as long as it's in some area that's related to the profession that you do, I think doing a some kind of a course, is definitely good.

I think one of the biggest things that I've learned through the qualifications that I've gotten, and through my time at uni, you know, I think a lot of people refer to studying or getting formal education, they refer to it as getting a piece of paper. I think that is incorrect. Because the reason I think so is because it's the process of studying or gaining the qualification, that's actually one of the big skills. That's one of the big outcomes that you get from completing the course. So yes, there's the knowledge that you learn inside the course. But if you really think about it, think about all the different skills that you have to work on yourself and improve that, just to be able to get through a course regardless of what the topic is. So you've got to be good at managing deadlines, you've got to be able to get to be good at prioritising and scheduling your work. And then you've got to also be able to free yourself from distractions and sit down and do the work.

And then in addition to that, you also learn the technical knowledge, you've got to get good at working to deadlines working under pressure for when you have exams. And then you also get to do often you get to do group projects, and different types of things that require teamwork. So there is a lot about studying that has, that really has nothing to do with the actual topic itself, it's just literally going through the process of being in a course, is going to give you a whole lot of skills that you would not have had otherwise. And doing it in a course setting is going to be more beneficial than say reading it from a book, because of all of those extra things that you need to do. So that's basically sort of the background of you know, what, what benefit I see in doing a qualification. Now, on the flip side of that, you don't want to be going out there getting qualifications. And spending all this time doing qualifications, is something that you don't necessarily want to get into.

So when it comes to payroll, I think it's good if you can get some experience before doing the qualifications. Because then you can figure out if this is something that you want to do a lot of bookkeepers don't really want to do payroll or don't really want to get involved in it. Some really love it. And so in a way payroll is sort of a bit of a niche, because there are there is a greater shortage or there is a greater supply of bookkeepers, actually who want to just do bookkeeping without payroll. So obviously, then it becomes more competitive. Whereas when if you're moving into specialising in payroll, you know, you're probably going to have a lot more opportunities there.

Because, you know, there's lots of businesses that need payroll, and there's lots of providers that don't want to provide payroll, on the, you know, another benefit of getting into payroll is that accountants don't want to do it. So we do know that, you know, from time to time, accountants do decide that they want to start offering bookkeeping services as well to expand their range of services. And so often accountants might they might actually start offering bookkeeping as well. And then they'll offer that to their clients and then the client because I've had that longer relationship with the accountant, they will go to the accountant.

Whereas if you have payroll, there's I think a lot of unless the accounting firms bringing in payroll specialists, which they may or may not, I think that it's much more unlikely that an accountant is going to want to take the payroll clients. So yes, they might want to take the bookkeeping, because there's kind of this belief in the industry that if you know accounting, you know, bookkeeping, it's not necessarily true, but often sometimes accountants set bookkeeping practices up inside that firm where they actually have bookkeepers who are specialising in that so not saying it's a complete insurance policy, but other than getting from getting your clients pinched by accountants, but it's definitely there's definitely, you know, you're probably going to have more clients who will stick with you because you offer that payroll service.

So I think that's definitely beneficial. So on payroll qualifications are good, but experience is extra important. So I say, you know, when one of the things that I replied to this person was that, you know, before deciding whether you want to do a payroll course, because you know, my favorite answer is, it depends if someone says, Should I do this? Or should I do this? The answer is it depends. And what does it depend on? Well, it depends on what your goals are, what are your long term goals? So if you zoom out for a moment and think to yourself, do I want to be offering payroll as a specialisation? Or am I even wanting to be offering it at all? If you have a think about that?

Maybe you don't know the answer, you know, it's perfectly fine to not know the answer until you get some experience. So I think it's always good to, you know, zoom out, have a look at the big picture and go, Is this something I want to do? If the answer is I don't know, then you can definitely get some experience before taking on the qualification, by all means, you can enroll in the qualification, if you think that that will help you get your foot in the door. But I think as well, you know, if you're wanting to get experience in payroll, as I said, in that initial episode that I did, I think it's really important not to take on things that are too far outside your skill set.

So yes, of course, we want to grow and stretch ourselves. But we don't want to cause damage to clients, businesses, we don't want to make major mistakes, we don't want to put ourselves in a position where we're taking on work that is way beyond our qualifications. So you know, like I did say in that episode, there are certain types of accounting roles that you can get as an employee, prior to starting your own business so that you can get that groundwork. And, you know, I'm not saying that you can't learn on the go, you definitely can. And I think because technology is improved, we do have the ability to do that on a greater level, and to do a better job of that.

So I don't want to be too old school and say, like, you know, you need that 10,000 hours or five years, hands on experience before you become an expert. I think we can definitely do it faster than that. But I think it's also important to take a step back and say, All right, you know, if you know, perhaps you're not ready to put yourself out there charging 5060 7080, even $100 an hour in bookkeeping, to do payroll as a business owner, or as a contractor. If you don't have that level of experience, you know, you want to kind of gauge where you're at and what you think you could cope with. So if, you know, if you had if you were taking on clients, and they were, you know, if it was a small payroll, like just a couple of stuff, of course, that's probably not too far out of your comfort zone. But if it was a large payroll, then obviously the requirements of that are going to be greater.

So that's where I would say, zoom out, have a look at your big picture goals. Once you know what those big picture goals are, then break that down into some smaller steps. And if you don't yet know and you just need to try a few different things, there are employee roles that you can look for. So in the firt, that other episode, that idea about getting clients when you have no experience, my suggestion is one of the roles that can be really helpful if you're wanting to set the foundation for future as a bookkeeper is an accounts payable role. I feel like accounts receivable is good, but it's a lot of it doesn't get take in small business bookkeeping, we're often not doing a lot of that in comparison to the accounts payable side. I feel like learning the reconciliation skills that you need to learn in order to go through and reconcile to the supplier statements. This is a really beneficial skill. This was something that I learned in the early days that has always carried forward for me to become something that is really, really helpful. So in the same way you can do the same with payroll and get your qualifications in an employee role as a payroll officer. So let me know if you have any questions and I'll see you in the next episode. Thanks for listening. Good luck. Bye