ACFE Insights Blog

Staying Positive and Resilient in Job Searching

Finding work in the fraud examination field can be very challenging. Colin May, CFE, provides some perspective and ideas on how to stay motivated and resilient during a difficult job search.

By Colin May, CFE January 2024 Duration: 6-minute read
Please sign in to save this to your favorites.

Finding work in the fraud examination field can be very challenging, but this blog may help provide some perspective and ideas on how to stay motivated and resilient during a difficult job search. Be strategic in your approach to career development and use a proven methodology to help. 

Make everyday a learning experience 

Each day is an opportunity to practice and hone your skills as a fraud examiner, regardless of whether you are actually working on a fraud examination engagement. You can “interview” people and then write up the summary, conduct data analysis, spot-check documents and back-up information. All of these will help you to become a better fraud examiner.

Here is a video on 25 ways that you can gain fraud examination experience:

25 Ways to get Fraud Investigation Experience - YouTube

Network and build solid professional relationships 

The key to networking is to start small and build a long-lasting relationship with a small group of experienced professionals. This podcast from Coaching for Leaders describes how you can approach others for guidance and advice without seeming desperate or transactional.  

Get involved! 

The ACFE is a wonderful way to dive in and get involved.  Attending chapter events, joining a committee, joining the ACFE LinkedIn group, writing a blog or an article for Fraud Magazine, these are all examples of how you can contribute to a global community of like-minded anti-fraud professionals. Explore ALL your options 

Being a fraud examiner takes many forms in different ways, across various industries. Being a forensic accountant usually requires a CPA license at a minimum, or if you’re working on federal taxes, you need to be an enrolled agent. But there are many ways to get into the game—take advantage of all the options and explore what is out there.

In public service, for example, there are dozens of titles and roles which utilize the fraud examination methodology, but very few roles in the federal government use the title of “fraud examiner.” This video explains what types of jobs in government involved fraud investigation.   

Explore the career page on the Council of Inspectors General on Integrity and Efficiency (CIGIE)—Inspectors General are mandated to identify fraud, waste and abuse in federal programs and agencies: Careers | Council of the Inspectors General on Integrity and Efficiency; IGnet

Stay positive about the future 

We live in an “on-demand” world and that translates to constantly wanting everything quickly. Unfortunately, job searches don’t work that way. Hiring managers are told to “hire slowly,” to ensure the right fit for the job. It is also partially a “numbers game,” where you are competing with hundreds—even thousands—of other applicants with varying qualifications. It is important to be known among your peers (and hiring managers) as a smart, qualified, well-rounded communicator and analyst. 

If you stay positive and use the growth mindset, you will recognize that it is about the journey, not a specific destination. This article also details some excellent advice on being purposeful and resilient in your job search. 

Be passionate about anti-fraud 

Albert Einstein once said that he didn’t have any special gifts or talents but was rather “passionately curious.” More recently, Oprah Winfrey said "Passion is energy. Feel the power that comes from focusing on what excites you." Be passionate and curious about the work of fraud examination. Seek to learn as much as you can through a variety of ways. Apply your knowledge in everyday situations to practice; then reflect on what you have learned and what you can do differently. Be intentional about the organizations and positions that you apply to and make lasting connections to help people know who you are and why you are passionate about the work of fraud prevention, detection and investigation. Finally, help others once you attain your job—give back to our community and support others as an ACFE mentor.  

Colin May, CFE, is Professor of Forensic Studies and Criminal Justice at Stevenson University in Owings Mills, Md. For more than 10 years, he was a Special Agent with the U.S. Government and now works for a large Office of Inspector General. He is also a Certified Cyber Crime Examiner (charter member) and may be reached at The views expressed in this article are the author’s own.