• Career Center

    Those Annoying Recruiter Calls Might Be Slowing Down Next Quarter

    By | March 13, 2012

    In a few weeks, many of you plugging along through busy season will decide to call those incessant recruiters back and test the job market. Last week's report by Robert Half and published in the Journal of Accountancy miiiiight rain on your parade, at least in the short term. 

    Ninety-one percent of CFOs said they don’t expect to change their accounting and finance staffing levels in the second quarter; 4% plan to add staff; and 5% plan to reduce staff. The net decrease of 1 percentage point marked the first time since the third quarter of 2010 that the percentage of CFOs planning to reduce staff outnumbered those who expected to add staff.

    This occurred even though 27% of respondents said they were very confident and 64% were somewhat confident in their second-quarter business prospects. More than 1,400 CFOs responded to the survey.

    Is this a serious cause for concern?  Meh, it's nothing like the Double Black Diamond-like falloff in '08 and '09.  Jobs are simply taking longer to fill because it is a strong employers' market. For companies running on a 12/31/XX year-end, many approve hiring budgets with the turn of the new year; these jobs can take months to fill.  Fear not job seekers – the US News paints a rosy picture for the future:

    The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects 15.7 percent growth for accountants between 2010 and 2020, which is much faster than the average growth for most other professions. An additional 190,700 accounting and auditing jobs will need to be filled during that time period. The profession's promising outlook has earned it the No. 21 spot on the Best Jobs of 2012 list.

    So maybe those calls won’t be stopping anytime soon.  For those of you on the job hunt right now, what are you seeing? 


      Those useless assholes keep bothering me on Linkedin (facebook for yuppies).  I usually respond with typicall brevity.  A common response goes like this (with less virtriol and more wit)………”A failed accountant/auditor/taxman who couldn’t pass the pop quiz and move past senior is not in a position to advise me on career moves. However, if I need advice on how to stay in public/private accounting without doing accounting anymore, I would love to hear about your career….”

      • $19577774

        You respond to them? I don’t bother. Recruiters are like lawyers. If you throw one of them in the ocean, ten more will come along the next day to take his place.

        A lot of these recruiters just want to connect with me on LinkedIn so they can have access to my contacts…and then spam my contacts just like they’re spamming me.

        • Guy

          Terrible advice to the younger crowd <5 years in. In my experience at that point they aren't really after your contacts (you probably don't have anything they don't, and more likely less), and you can both gain from interacting: they help you find opportunities you otherwise might never see or consider, you both expand each other's networks, and yeah if they do it right they might make money off of you.

          I counsel all years 1-4 to call recruiters back. Seems anathema to the audit code (ALL coworkers ALWAYS snicker and remind you never to reply), but you have nothing to lose at that point in your career.

          • $19577774

            Headhunters are not professional contacts. They are a tool to be used for the job at hand (key word is “tool”). An example of a professional contact would be the controller at the company you’re auditing, not some scumbag headhunter who’s just looking to place you in any shitty position at any shitty company so he can get his commission on the 30% of your first year salary that your new employer will pay his firm.

            I did not say recruiters are not useful in certain circumstances. Of course they can be. Many people get jobs through them. All I’m saying is you need to be very cautious when dealing with these scumbags, because they don’t give a shit about you. They have no fiduciary responsibility to you, and you are not their client.

            I’m also saying that the average lifespan of a recruiter is about 5 weeks, mostly due to the fact that most of them are really lousy at recruiting and can’t make a living at it. But, as I said above, every time a recruiter leaves the business, there are 10 new ones swooping in to take his place.

          • $19577774

            To illustrate my point, next time you talk to a recruiter pay attention to how much time you spend talking versus how much time they spend talking. In my experience, about 95% of the “conversation” is the recruiter trying to hard sell you on “great opportunities”, despite the fact that they don’t know anything about you or what you’re looking for.

            Anyone who knows anything about sales or customer service, or recruiting, knows that you need to listen to the customer rather than talking all the time. This is so you can understand their needs and try to find a way to fill those needs. But that’s not how headhunters operate (as I said above, most are really shitty at their job). They are looking to spend the minimum amount of time with you, place you in any position that will get them a commission, and quickly move on to the next sucker.

            • Guest

              There is a huge amount of bitterness in your comments.  If you don’t like the person on the phone, don’t work with them.  Get a recommendation from another “professional contact” for a recruiter they have used and like.  Do you have any idea how many controller level, VP level and C level professionals maintain strong relationships with recruiters they have known since they were in public accounting?  There are plenty of good ones out there.  Build one or two good relationships and they could be valuable resources for you throughout your career.

              Also, I agree with your last statement.  A good recruiter should be listening and asking questions more than talking. 

            • $19577774

              I think you are confusing bitterness with disgust. Your senses deceive you.

              Again, I did not say that one shouldn’t use recruiters. I said that recruiters are tools, and you should use them as such. They are not professional contacts. Professional contacts are your clients, your co-workers, classmates from college, people you may meet at professional networking functions, etc.

              As for recruiters who deal with C-level postions, that is an entirely different ballgame. There are some very high end recruiting firms which deal exclusively with these sorts of placements. My comments were directed at the firms that focus on senior managers and below at public accounting firms. And my comments were also directed towards the recruiters who are going through a quarter life crisis trying to figure out what to do with their life, so they thought they’d give headhunting a whirl.

      • RecruiterGirl

        I am sorry to hear you have had bad experiences with recruiters. Not all of us are failed accountants. Recruiting is easy to get into, hence why a lot of people try it, but hard to be good at, hence why turnover can be high. Reasons for getting into recruiting might be: more independence, more people interaction, more money, more flexibility, better work life balance, more entrepeneurial career, wanting to be at the front end of the business rather than the back end. I don’t know a lot of other professions where you can earn a mid 6 figure salary under the age of 30 without an advanced degree. If you want to try it I will be happy to talk 🙂

        • Jeffrey R. Bainter

          I’m a former Deloitte audit manager and would love to chat.  Send photos.

      • PWC No Evil

        I generally don’t respond, but 90% of the activity I receive on Linked In is from recruiters.

        I ONCE made the mistake of calling one of them when I was having a shitty week at my job…he clung to me like a lost puppy, calling constantly for months.  

        • Caleb Newquist

          +1 on the name.

        • $19577774

          I agree with Colin. Great name.

          When I was much younger, I once went to a real shitty used car dealer. I didn’t see anything I liked, so I decided to leave. As I was driving out of the parking lot, the used car salesman literally chased my car on foot, knocking on my window asking me if I’d like to look at some other shitty cars he was selling. He looked like he needed to make a sale in order to pay for his next crack hit. This experience is what I always remember when thinking about what its like to go into the dark underworld of headhunting.

      • Pipolipo

        very smart to generalise a whole group based on a few bad experiences you had…  It even looks like discrimination

      • Guest

        This comment is beyond ignorant. I doubt you have the stones to reply in this way, but really hope you do.  Many of those “useless assholes” have good relationships with several hiring authorities in your professional network and people talk.

        • $19577774

          I have the stones to reply in this way, and have.

          What are these “hiring authorities” you’re referring to?

          Do you think companies the recruiters are working with have any respect for them? The companies view recruiters as tools, just as I (and apparently DOT.NOT.THE.FEATHER) do. Most of these recruiters are public accounting washouts who are trying to make a quick buck, and then maybe a career, on leveraging the contacts they made during their short time in public. Most fail spectacularly in a short period of time, and end up finding something else (and more productive) to do with their life. And then the next batch of public accounting washouts come to fill their vacant spot at the recruiting firm.

    • rgbudman

      One days you all might appreciate the help of a recruiter

    • Guesticles

      There are definitely jobs a-plenty out there to be had. I got out of the public game about a year ago, and I still have the same recruiter I was talking to last year sending me job postings to send to my friends to see if they are interested. Like a complete idiot I’m trying to get back into a Big 4 (not auditing, however, so save me some points there please) and still I find many opportunities to be had there, but that’s obvious because it’s Big 4 and they’re bleeding people faster than they can bandage themselves up.

      Anyway, it’s still an employee’s market as much as it is an employer’s market, IMHO. Fret not.

      • Guest

        Maybe if these companies didn’t treat their people like crap (with patronizing ads in the WSJ and iPads that aren’t actually a gift) they’d cut down on attrition.

    • Guest

      I’ve never even worked in public accounting (much less Big4) and I still get messages from recruiters about once a month nowadays.  The market seems to have picked up considerably.

    • loansta

      Recruiters are still calling here.  I applied to a B4 position and had a recruiter call within 2 hours!

      • Broseidon

        Good luck on your internship champ

    • Another exKPMGer

      The jobs are out there but employers know that Big Four staff are itching to leave and are holding out for the better ones. We have an opening that we’ve kept since December because we haven’t liked anyone who has interviewed. We know a lot more will be looking in about a month so we’re just waiting.

    • Gs7045

      Market is getting tight for great candidates!! There are a ton of people still in the market looking for positions, however employers are getting very specific in the criteria of what they want. My corporate clients are wanting private/public mix with a CPA. They will not take anyone directly out of public, especially, big 4. Why? When you work for a BIG 4 you get specialized in one particular area and can only do 75% of job vs. someone who has a public/private background has been exposed to different areas.

      If you are having problems with recruiters, your not using the right one!!

    • guestt

      I used to get annoyed when they call. But now I feel bad for them because they are making cold calls based on a resume that I submitted 3 years ago.  That job must suck.

    • Guest

      Accountants are truly the kings of #firstworldproblems.  While lawyers can’t find a job and are stuck with $150k in student loans, and teachers keep having their salaries and benefits chipped away, accountants are complaining that annoying recruiters are pestering them with job offers.

    • I am 4 months into a good corp job. I am getting calls and emails almost daily. Its like I’m a experienced professional lol. 

      • Guest

         Why would you go through the trouble of linking your account to Twitter if you’ve set your account to private and don’t want people reading it?

    •  Having been displaced after 22 years, with a mix of, at the time, Big 8 and much industry experience, I came to understand just how valuable a credible and experienced recruiter could be.  With the economy as it had been during the last year, I opted to pursue entrepreneurship by way of a franchise business.  Would have loved other options, but adequate options did not arise.  Manage your network, to include recruiters.  Never hurts, and you may just need them some day!

      • $19577774

        I can’t imagine why I would ever “need” a recruiter for anything. If I were suddenly out of a job two years from now, I guarantee you that 95% of the recruiters soliciting me right now will have moved on to greener pastures by then. There will be new recruiters to take their place, and I can just call a couple of them if I want to go that route.

        Here’s a tip for the GC community from someone who’s been out there for a while, and who’s been placed at positions both through recruiters and through personal/network contacts. The best positions are the ones you get through your network. Recruiters are mostly trying to help companies fill the shitty positions, or at least the unremarkable positions.

    • Big4Veteran is a BigDouche

      Big4Veteran is a BigDOUCHE.

    • Section 245

      My wife’s friend dated a recruiter for a few years.  He owned a boutique firm that focused on financial professionals (i.e. accountants like us).  He really opened my eyes.  He referred to the people he was ostensibly helping to find work – all of them – as “assholes”.  What was genuinely disturbinh was the way he said it – it wasn’t even a pejorative term to him, he called them assholes with no emotion, the same way you’d tell someone the file was on your desk.  The only other thing I heard him call his job candidates was “shitheads”.  That was reserved for an asshole who turned down a crappy job offer so did involve some emotion.  His  clients, the companies that paid his fees, were clients, at least until they were hard to please, when they became “idiots”.  He had exactly zero interest in finding you a job that was the good for you, let alone the best for you. In fact he’d pressure people to stay in terrible jobs long enough to lock in his fee (usually about a year).   And yet he had been doing this for more than ten years with some (personal) success so I’ve concluded the entire industry stinks.  

    • It seems to me that if nothing else the entire industry and the service that they provide is inefficient and overpriced, as far as recruiting for the accounting industry at least. Temping and headhunting might work better for other industries, but all of the bigger accounting firms have their own recruiting departments, and have in-house recruiters (which are actually respectable jobs) who work year-round to find talent for their company) and the smaller firms tend to hire people with more experience.

      Recruiters are really only able to help with private companies, where their industry does not involve accounting, and you’re just on their accounting staff. I agree with what somebody said before, that it makes more sense for the upper levels to use recruiters.  Firms don’t have the skills or departments to know much about experienced recruiting, and companies that need a CFO or Controller are more likely going to pay a big fee to get that decision right.

      For people who little to no experience: pick up the phone and call employers, send out your resume, and do the work yourself. 

    • Expat Tax Mgr

      I used recruiters to find “good enough for now” jobs while I worked my way through my Masters in Tax.  A couple were pretty good – knew that I was smart, but not staying for more than a year or two at any job they’d find; or they suggested that I go through on-campus interviewing and go into public accounting rather than the private industry work they had, even though there was no commission in it for them.  Another skeevy one got pissed off when I declined a shitty cost accounting job.  Nevermind that it had low pay, a crappy environment, and it was cost accounting.
      Once I was in the Big 4, I could expect lots of calls right after deadlines, and the day after salary increases were announced.  Unfortunately, almost none of them understood what the heck I did, even though “Expatriate Tax” in my LinkedIn profile was a big clue.  They kept asking me if I wanted to do corporate tax work.  (I want the better hours and lack of timesheets, but not having to deal fixed assets and provisions and whatever else.)

    • tax turned recruiter

      I recently left a senior role in the big 4 to join a small recruiting firm. This was completely my choice and it was on positive terms. My role was becoming too specialized, consisting of nothing but compliance for the foreseeable future, so I decided the sacrifices I was making to stay there were simply not worth it. There are definitely some scummy recruiters out there and it certainly gives us a bad name. It seems to me that they are the ones that have to hit their numbers every quarter or else. The reason I joined a smaller firm is that since they are not a public entity, they are not slaves to shareholders, and therefore don’t face as much pressure to fill every job instantly with the first people who answer the phone. Relationships are important and they can lead to far more than one quick commission. Unfortunately some recruiters aren’t able to wait and end up putting themselves before their clients. If you use the same rules in recruiting as in big 4, placing your clients first, then the money will come.