Getting hired

The Inside Dirt on Employment Background Checks

Ed. note: Herc Hammer — obviously not his real name — is a Certified Fraud Examiner and licensed private investigator who works for a Big 4 firm. If you still have questions about the background check process, head over to Open Items and ask away. So you’ve landed a job offer from a prestigious firm, […]

KPMG Is Holding a Live Facebook Chat on Branding Tonight

Personal branding, not the kind cows get with a hot poker on their round steak. Here are the details: How will YOU stand out? Branding yourself is a great way to discover things that make you who you are, develop key messages about your strengths and abilities, create a consistent look and voice, and market […]

Contrary to What You May Have Heard, Thank You Notes are Still Appreciated

Are post-interview thank you notes absolutely required? No. Neither is brushing your teeth before the interview, that doesn't mean it's a good idea to forgo either. In this recent piece from CGMA Mag (I know, I know), Ken Tysiac discusses the importance of the thank you: Candidates should display their gratitude for the interview and […]

Forget Putting Your CPA Exam Scores on a Résumé, Try Your SAT

I am willing to bet those of us who recall the Space Shuttle Challenger disaster as experienced through the eyes of Punky Brewster barely even remember our SAT scores. I can tell you my grandparents let me go to Madison that weekend to stay with friends before the test and I ended up staying up […]

If No One Will Hire You, Maybe It’s Because Your Parents Aren’t Offering to Pay Them

Today's dose of lawyerly schadenfreude comes courtesy Above the Law, which is pretty much to Going Concern as watching Hoarders is for people who aren't the best at keeping up with housework: Times are still desperate for recent law graduates looking for work. There’s no guarantee that you are going to get a good job… […]

Why Referrals Mean Nothing If You’re a Nothing

Ed. note: There's another new face around here and though his name might make you think he should have been a lawyer or, possibly, a comic book villain instead of an auditor, we hope you'll welcome him with open arms. Andrew Argue is a CPA and the founder of Ten Key Heroes, a freelancing platform […]

Guess Which Big 4 Firm Allegedly Just Punked Its Rejectees

According to the tip box, here are the details: One big 4 company figured it'd be best for all of their rejectees to commiserate together, so they decided to CC everyone. When following up after the faux pas, rejected candidates came back from class to a nebulous "I'm from campus recruiting, give me a call" […]

Accounting Student Whose Awkward Email Made the Rounds at Big 4 Firms Makes Fitting Retaliatory Video

Though it is never our intention, there have been a few times when news published on Going Concern has a life-shattering effect for some people. You know, like that weirdo who was filming coworkers in the bathroom stall next to him and young people stressing about retirement. Heck, even I suffer consequences from being associated […]

How to Have Recruiting Season Conversations Without Scaring People Off

You spent your entire junior year reading Going Concern horror stories instead of brushing up on your communication skills and now the heat is on. Recruiting season is here and you don't want to end up working for the firms that get made fun of all the time around here. Instead of hyperventilating, email us […]

Questions You Might Get Asked During the Big 4 Hiring Process

Everyone should be familiar with the weird Google/Microsoft interview questions like "why are manhole covers round?" and "how many golf balls can fit in a school bus?" but how many times have you heard about the difficult interview questions asked at Big 4? Go ahead, take your time answering that. When Vault was busy putting […]

Can Someone Help This Guy Know What It Feels Like To Be Wanted?

I am pretty sure some of you have some sage advice for this poor lost little sheep who can’t seem to elbow his way into the Big 4.

I have a question. I go to a small college where I am an accounting major. I hold a high GPA, several internships, involved in campus activity and in the community and a member of a fraternity. I understand that your resume is not going to get you an interview with one of the big 4. However, since I do not attend a school that the big 4 recruit from I am not able to gain any face time. I cannot get the time of day from any recruiter because I am not in their “pipleline” and I am always told that they willl keep it for consideration come time to recruit in the fall. I have networked like crazy through alumni of my school, my fraternity, my friends, my church, and my community. I am always referred to the recruiter and then I am always told that I will be considered. If you can shed any advice on how to obtain an interview from the big 4 that does not recruit your school I would appreciate it. I am I just out of luck and should of went to a bigger university?

Ahem. “Should have gone to a bigger university” for starters. This particular OP also attached a resume which I obviously won’t share and didn’t even open. I didn’t need to. And I’m a no-CPA-having, pissed off blogger, imagine what Big 4 recruiters would think reading a submission like the one above.

When you say you’ve “networked,” what exactly does that mean? “Networking” with your fraternity usually doesn’t have anything to do with work, and unless you are a member of the St H&R Block congregation, I’m unclear as to how your church is helping you get in at the Big 4. It’s good that you are making the rounds to get advice and support on this but the best thing you can do is evaluate your own way of approaching this because something obviously isn’t working.

In any correspondence with the firm, double-check this list to make sure you aren’t making any of these. I wouldn’t dare say working at the Big 4 is like rocket science or that you need to write a perfectly-worded dissertation to get in but maybe your fraternity experience is better expressed in person than written. You’d probably do great at a recruiting event if you had the opportunity to go to one.

There is a back door you can take by attending other professional events to see if you can meet someone who knows someone that likes your __________ (knowledge; ability to be molded into whatever they need; desire to please people whose job it is to bullshit you into one more busy season) and get you in. I don’t think writing to these people is going to help you.

In short, your fast track to the “pipeline” is to make yourself marketable and desirable to these bloodthirsty sharks. Slit your wrists in the water if you have to knowwhatI’msayin.

In a followup email to the OP, I asked “How are you approaching these recruiters? ‘Hey I kinda want a job with you guys’ or ‘I have x to offer and will take y assrape in exchange for it’ ?”

“I am pretty assertive so I am probably approaching it the second way you mentioned it. I am not sure if I would want to stay forever but, I want the name on my resume and I am willing to put in the time while I am young and single,” he wrote. I’d have to see his communications with recruiters or HR shlubs to confirm if he is being explicit about the level of assrape he’s willing to endure and for how long.

They can smell it, you know.

Smart Guy With Useless Masters Wants to Know How to Break Into Public

This is a good one. A really good one. If you have a good question for us (none of this crap we’ve answered before nonsense), please get in touch.

The lesson we learn here is that: A) not all Masters degrees are created equal and B) appreciate those networking and recruiting events you get at school because not everyone is so fortunate.

Hi GC,

Just need some advice and suggestions on how I should approach my accounting future. I finished my MBA – Accounting from Keller (Graduate division of Devry) about 2 years ago. I have a really good GPA (3.72), and I have some years of experience of accounting in private industries under my belt (3 years of being staff act a job recently as an Senior Accountant in a non profit organization. However, my true goal has been to get into public accounting, and I have tried and tried to breakthrough with no avail. Even before my recent job, I have applied to many entry level positions at any and every accounting firms (small, big 4, and in between) and no response. NONE… Networking and job assistance at Keller/DeVry is a joke… I sometimes regret going there…

As for the CPA exam, I am working on them right now. None passed so far, but I am really aiming for finishing it by the end of this year.

Something that piqued my interest recently is that CSUN is offering a Master’s in Accounting program this fall. I have already applied, and I have a good chance of getting in. However, I don’t know if its a worthwhile endeavor.

My question is, should I go back and get another master’s for the whole chance of getting networking and interning opportunities? It feels like it might be a waste of $20000 just for that… but then again, I spent about $50000 at Keller/DeVry for hopes of getting into public accounting with no result… and just because I’ll be attending an MSA program doesn’t mean that it’s a lock in getting into public accounting either…

Another thing that interested me is a MST program, possibly from Cal State Fullerton, or again, CSUN. However, time is an issue for me. I’m in my early 30’s already, and waiting another year seems like a death knell to my already slim window of opportunity in getting into public accounting.
Does anyone have advice on how I can get my foot in the door into public accounting?

Any feedback will be appreciated!

Thanks!

Sincerely,

Hopelessly Frustrated

Dear Hopelessly Frustrated,

If I spent $50,000 on a degree that won’t help me get a job, I’d be Incredibly Pissed Off so congrats on taking this so well. Your frustration is warranted, however, I have seen that Keller complaint before – did you do your due diligence before you forked over that kind of cash or was this a case of you getting suckered into their Masters/CPA review package without reading the fine print? Either way, I am really not going to tell you to go get another Masters just to bump into a few recruiters on campus, that’s a dumb idea and you don’t seem like a dumb guy. I mean if you’d do that just to get a Big 4 job, why not just bring a suitcase stuffed with $100 bills to your nearest Big 4 office and tell them you’ll work for free in exchange for work experience?

You’re right that at 30-something your chances of breaking into public are slipping by the day, old man. My thought on this is that at 30, you have pretty much formulated your opinions on the world, lost the idealism of your youth and settled into who you are pretty comfortably. Of course, the Big 4 don’t like hiring people with solid opinions about how the world works, it’s much easier to take on an army of starry-eyed 22-year-olds eager to be told how they feel and what they think.

That being said, sounds like you have a lot to offer, especially if you knock out the CPA exam. I have difficulty believing you cannot get in with any firm; when you say you’ve been trying, what exactly have you been trying? Lingering outside of recruiting events pretending that you attend that school? Waiting outside in the parking lot to pounce on HR people?

If you haven’t already, I would get your ass on the good old Internets and start networking like a motherfucker. There are tons of recruiters lurking on Twitter and LinkedIn, and the better your professional presence on these sites, the higher your chances of bumping into one. It can’t hurt.

Firms do troll the schools you mentioned (both CSUN and Cal State Fullerton have – believe it or not – decent accounting programs, at least by California standards) but do you really want to be elbowing 25-year-olds out of the way at awkward recruiting events? Instead, I would advise getting active with CalCPA and hitting any other professional networking events (like AICPA conferences) you can afford. It’s all about who you know, and if you know enough people, eventually one of them is going to know where you can get in and be so impressed with your decent GPA, previous experience and communication skills that they will put in a good word for you. It can’t hurt. Another $20,000 on a second degree, however, sounds pretty painful.

Good luck!