June 23, 2018

Big 4 Recruiting Season: When Are a Good GPA and Internship Experience Not Enough?

Ed. note: Have a question for the career advice brain trust? Email us at [email protected].

Is it just me or has it been a strange, weird week? I mean, look at yesterday’s Accounting News Roundup for what’s been happening:

• Everyone’s favorite shove-chips-down-your-throat airline lost its chief financial guru.
• The curtain continues to be pulled back on the next great technology company bubble.
• Rick Perry
• Capitalism is on life support

And oh yeah, Ohio was momentarily resembled a safari. Christ. Get a re-fillturn up your iPod. Let’s push through this week. On to the questions:

My question is about recruiting. On Campus Recruiting has ended last week and unfortunately I wasn’t invited to any of the Big 4 interviews. I really thought that my high GPA and my experience at a F500 company and a large governmental organization would land me the internship.

After being rejected, I started talking to some friends to see who had Big 4 interviews coming up, and I found out that only campus leaders had interviews. By campus leaders I mean BAP, ALPHA, NABA, and etc board members. I’m currently a senior and I will be applying for full-time positions next year. Since I’m not in any leadership position, and probably won’t be by next year, am I screwed? Also, is it true that 90% of Big 4’s entry level full time positions are filled by interns?

Thanks.

Maybe you’re a sloppy dresser. Maybe you have sweaty palms. Maybe you think brushing your teeth is more of a take-it-or-leave-it option than a societal norm. Possibilities…but unlikely. This sounds more like a case of “Good College in a Small Market Where the Firms Just Don’t Need to Hire Many People.” Unfortunate, but it happens.

Here’s the sitch: the firms love to hire out of universities with a broad range of students. The USCs and U. of Texases (at Austin, yes, yes) and Penn States of the world; even smaller schools like Lehigh and NYU. Why? Because they have national appeal – good programs, brand names, and students from every state. A Longhorn from Austin could be interested in working in Boston or Chicago or New York. Lehigh grads regularly pursue options in Philadelphia, DC, Pittsburgh, and the NYC/Chicago/the west coast hotspots. Alums of these schools can share their stories of the recruiting factory lines – Beta Alpha Psi board execs, members, and club rejects alike find jobs with the Big 4. The Budgeting Gods love these schools and make a concerted effort to build robust programs around these schools and those like them.

Your current situation falls into a different category. You’re either:

a) at a good school in a smaller market and the local firms have limited hiring needs
b) at a small school that the firm is obligated to recruit from because the Office Managing Partner graduated from there in 1963.

Whatever the reason, it’s unfortunate because there are probably a number of qualified applicants like you who are out of luck. The firms have fairly tight budgets on a per-school basis; even if they had a lack of candidates at another school, it would be a one-off case.

All that said, you’re not necessarily “screwed.” The officers will most likely accept fulltime offers they receive at the end of their internships. There is a possibility that the firms will have additional needs for fulltime hires; I recommend keeping your options open (audit, tax, etc.). As far as your projection that 90% of fulltime positions are filled by interns, I don’t know if it’s that high (it was in ‘08/’09), but above 75% on a national average. The goal is “as many as $%*@ing possible.” Good luck.

Ed. note: Have a question for the career advice brain trust? Email us at [email protected].

Is it just me or has it been a strange, weird week? I mean, look at yesterday’s Accounting News Roundup for what’s been happening:

• Everyone’s favorite shove-chips-down-your-throat airline lost its chief financial guru.
• The curtain continues to be pulled back on the next great technology company bubble.
• Rick Perry
• Capitalism is on life support

And oh yeah, Ohio was momentarily resembled a safari. Christ. Get a re-fill on your coffee and turn up your iPod. Let’s push through this week. On to the questions:

My question is about recruiting. On Campus Recruiting has ended last week and unfortunately I wasn’t invited to any of the Big 4 interviews. I really thought that my high GPA and my experience at a F500 company and a large governmental organization would land me the internship.

After being rejected, I started talking to some friends to see who had Big 4 interviews coming up, and I found out that only campus leaders had interviews. By campus leaders I mean BAP, ALPHA, NABA, and etc board members. I’m currently a senior and I will be applying for full-time positions next year. Since I’m not in any leadership position, and probably won’t be by next year, am I screwed? Also, is it true that 90% of Big 4’s entry level full time positions are filled by interns?

Thanks.

Maybe you’re a sloppy dresser. Maybe you have sweaty palms. Maybe you think brushing your teeth is more of a take-it-or-leave-it option than a societal norm. Possibilities…but unlikely. This sounds more like a case of “Good College in a Small Market Where the Firms Just Don’t Need to Hire Many People.” Unfortunate, but it happens.

Here’s the sitch: the firms love to hire out of universities with a broad range of students. The USCs and U. of Texases (at Austin, yes, yes) and Penn States of the world; even smaller schools like Lehigh and NYU. Why? Because they have national appeal – good programs, brand names, and students from every state. A Longhorn from Austin could be interested in working in Boston or Chicago or New York. Lehigh grads regularly pursue options in Philadelphia, DC, Pittsburgh, and the NYC/Chicago/the west coast hotspots. Alums of these schools can share their stories of the recruiting factory lines – Beta Alpha Psi board execs, members, and club rejects alike find jobs with the Big 4. The Budgeting Gods love these schools and make a concerted effort to build robust programs around these schools and those like them.

Your current situation falls into a different category. You’re either:

a) at a good school in a smaller market and the local firms have limited hiring needs
b) at a small school that the firm is obligated to recruit from because the Office Managing Partner graduated from there in 1963.

Whatever the reason, it’s unfortunate because there are probably a number of qualified applicants like you who are out of luck. The firms have fairly tight budgets on a per-school basis; even if they had a lack of candidates at another school, it would be a one-off case.

All that said, you’re not necessarily “screwed.” The officers will most likely accept fulltime offers they receive at the end of their internships. There is a possibility that the firms will have additional needs for fulltime hires; I recommend keeping your options open (audit, tax, etc.). As far as your projection that 90% of fulltime positions are filled by interns, I don’t know if it’s that high (it was in ‘08/’09), but above 75% on a national average. The goal is “as many as $%*@ing possible.” Good luck.

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Show Me the Money: Six Tips to Getting the Raise You Deserve

Ed. note: The following post was submitted to Going Concern by a reader who wished to remain nameless. The author works at a “local” CPA firm somewhere in this great land of ours.

The topic is actually very amusing and can cause several different angles over the almighty dollar. As an American culture, we seem to be quick to talk about the personal financial well being enclosed in our own homes. The items that separate the big dogs from the goldfish are numerous. Below are the reasons why I am a big dog and why you need to show me the money.


Know who you’re trying to convince – People often equate success to dollar figures, and I personally think salary or raises don’t always speak of high ethics or quality of a peords of caution are: know how your boss judges success. My boss judges it on money. The buck stops at that point. Therefore, when I spoke of my personal salary to him, I adjusted my strategy accordingly. He always talks with me about how he is doing personally, and how he is doing better than people at his level. This is due to the amount of responsibility and client base he possesses. Therefore, I changed the pace of my conversation so my point of view mirrored his. I brought up the point that the work I do helps him with his client base, and that my level of responsibility is more than a vast amount of my peers. As such, my salary should be adjusted accordingly.

Have the math to prove your position – Being in public accounting, we deal with numbers every day. Therefore, I made a spreadsheet that listed out changeability and realization (for those who don’t know, we bill by the hour). My numbers are then compared against my peers and when they are, statistics don’t lie. I am a big dog swimming with mostly fish. Point is again related to your audience in a way they can understand you. Accountants love numbers.

Tout your level of responsibility – I manage a large client base so the partner I report to doesn’t have to get involved as often as most. The reason for this is because I have set up and maintained client relationships so the client calls me instead of the partner. The clients understand that this is cheaper for them and also job security for me. When you do this, you make yourself more marketable and the partners see me as someone that his clients trust. With those client relationships come higher dollars. You have to separate yourself from your peers by going above and beyond. If you want to do the average and be a run of the mill employee, then expect the run of the mill pay.

I am involved in the community – By coaching little league football at a well known church, I interact with parents that might need a CPA firm to help them with tax issues or own a business that might need accounting services. Also by doing this, it shows the firm that I have no problems interacting with successful business people and can help them in various situations. I can grow the firm by doing this. Again, my peers don’t involve in the community as much as I do. This should be financially rewarded. I have an interest to bring in business, and should be compensated because of it.

I can leave this at any time – If my boss did not give me a descent raise, I was going to quit. I saw the storm coming, and therefore did all that I could prior to my salary evaluation. Quitting a job without another one lined up is a dumb move and would put my wife and me in jeopardy. I had (have) a job currently lined up and I could take it in a heartbeat. Therefore, I had my ducks in a row when I started to see the storm brewing three months ago. Always have a current résumé.

Be ready for the rebuttal – I know my weaknesses and had to be ready to discuss what I was lacking. I have not passed the CPA exam yet and that’s a huge drawback in my profession. So when I went in there, I had to tell him where I was in the process. Him knowing that I am taking care of it and not blowing it off, gives him a piece of mind that I am not average.

Case in point, just saying you want a raise and basing it off “because your deserve it” would make the employee look uneducated and should be embarrassed. You need to have a firm understanding of the reasons to justify your pay. In a pinch, always look at numbers. There is a reason 2+2=4 and will never equal 5. In a tough economy, you better have everything straight prior to walking into the boss’s office. When the economy settles, I’ll be expecting another sizable increase. If not, I will be very upset and will repeat the mentioned steps.

Three Things to Remember Come Goal Setting Season

Final reviews are a thing of the past and – at least for some of you – so are the days of terrible raises. Things seem on the up and up at most firms. That said, focusing on FY2011 is crucial for your career. Hopefully the potential for raises will be consistent if not better than this year’s, and but you need to be thinking about everything now.

The typical HR mantra is, “your goals need to be realistic and attainable but should also stretch you to push yourself.”

Yes, finding the middle ground between cruisin’ down Easy Street and setting yourself up for failure is crucial. So, what are you supposed to do?


1. Firm recommended goals: Every firm supplies their employees with suggested goals, and I’ve always recommended that people should use these at a starting point. Why? Two reasons:

a. Your managers and partners know them. While going through performance management training, partners and managers receive the outline of sample goals as part of their training materials. HR says, “Look, these are the goals your staff members should be shooting for” and the room goes “Ahhhhhhhhh.” Using these goals will be familiar to your superiors as you begin the review process. However, it’s important to…

b. Customize the goals to be you As valuable as the sample goals can be as a template for you, it is important that you adjust them to focus on your unique ambitions. This is your opportunity to voice your needs, i.e. – involvement in planning the audit, volunteering at firm events, or getting involved with recruiting. Showing your commitment to the firm away from the day-to-day engagements is just as important as being committed to busy season.

And for the sake of everything holy – PROOFREAD. Passed your CPA this year? Remove all of the passing-the-CPA related questions. Missing details like this will make your superiors question the effort you put into the process; don’t give them that option.

2. Review last year’s goals: Roll-forward successful goals. Re-evaluate goals you didn’t reach or didn’t surpass to your satisfaction. Demonstrating and documenting continual improvement is key.

3. Speak with your mentor: If you were promoted this year, congratulations! Newsflash – you’re in for an incredibly difficult year. New senior staff members and managers are put through the wringer, and rightfully so. Senior management doesn’t like being wrong and weeding out misguided promotions early is important to their long-term planning. Seek out the guidance of at least one person who was in your situation the previous year. What would they have done differently? Did they overshoot on a particular area in their goals? What’s one thing they recommend including in your goal setting?

Still unsure of what you should do? Talk to your peers, flip a coin, or Google it. Whatever you do, don’t miss the submission deadline.

Unless – of course – you actually want to be blacklisted.