Former Big 4 Auditor Who Took a Break Needs To Get Back In the Game

Sometimes, life is more important than work. For this former Big 4 auditor, a little life situation forced him out of the game before he got his 2 years and now he's trying to elbow his way back in.

Hi Adrienne,

I worked in big4 audit for just over a year, but I had to leave the firm soon after that for family reasons (to care for a loved one). It's been 2 years since then, and I haven't worked at all (my choice). The good news is that I just passed 3 of 4 sections of the CPA, and I expect to finish it up this month.

The thing is - I need help getting back into the work world now. Do you have any tips for getting back "in the game," so to speak?

If it helps, I'm really looking for a huge change of pace from big4 auditing - something where there's little travel, and that's not nearly as stressful as Big4. I think I would like something where there's only a one or a few persons I'm reporting to, and where the nature of my work is much more technical/specialized. Something that involves technology would be a big plus (I love Info Tech, and I'm good with it). I've looked at private accounting/finance-type positions, but it seems many of them want a minimum of 2 years of working experience. Having Big 4 is great experience, of course, but is 1 year worth much? I also worry about what they will think of a 2 year gap on my resume.

I know a few small mom&pop-type tax CPA firms I could work for, but I worry the work-life balance in these jobs isn't going to be too much different than Big4. I am also considering government positions.

Do you have any tips for someone like me?

Thanks very much.

~ newbie/CPA2be w/ ONLY 1 year of entry-level big4 audit experience

First off, it depends on where you are. If you're in the middle of bumfuck nowhere, your options are limited (as I'm sure you're aware) but if you're in a major market, you've got the option to start networking. Like we've advised other folks, you can do this by hitting events held by your state society of CPAs, the AICPA, or other professional organizations.

Second, you've got a great excuse if anyone actually asks what you've been up to lately. Be honest but not too upfront about this; meaning you don't have to badger HR about it but have a good explanation ready if you are asked.

You are correct that smaller firms aren't much different than Big 4 in terms of the amount of work you're going to be doing, the only difference might be travel. It sounds to me like you have some options, so I'd start by exercising those. Depending on how long you took off to care for your sick family member, you may not have to put in a full two years to get your license.

Based on what you're looking for, I would suggest seeking out a small (not mid-tier) firm with a couple partners, not some multi-national with tons of clients. If you love IT, try to find someone already in this area willing to take you under their wing, or at least give you some good guidance from their perspective.

I'm not too worried about you, sounds like you have it figured it out and just wanted us to confirm that you aren't completely fucked. You aren't.

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