Recruiting

College Students Would Rather Work at Walt Disney World Than at the Big 4

There was a time when the Big 4 used to dominate the top 10 companies in the business category of Universum’s list of the 100 most attractive employers for U.S. college students. But not so much anymore. In 2017’s ranking, only two Big 4 firms made the top 10 (EY at No. 8 and Deloitte […]

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Here Is Everything You Need to Know About Meet the Firms

Welp, it’s about that time of year to dust off your big brother’s hand-me-down blazer and practice your handshake for Meet the Firms. As you’re polishing up your personal elevator pitch, now is a good time to go over some basics, lest you make an absolute fool of yourself. What Is Meet the Firms? As […]

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Protip: Don’t Give Your Bank Information to Anyone Claiming to Be an Accounting Firm Recruiter

Never trust anyone online wearing a hoodie. Good night, nurse, what is this: Executives at UHY Advisors are sounding the alarm about online scammers who have been impersonating recruiters at accounting firms, offering enthusiastic young job seekers new career opportunities and internships. All the applicant must do, scammers tell them, is sign an acceptance letter […]

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Want to Find and Keep Quality Accounting Talent? Pay Them More, Already

Smiles and handshakes will ensue. The AICPA’s mega report on the supply of accounting graduates and demand for accounting recruits will be out any day now. If the CPA robots have proliferated to a far greater degree than anyone could’ve thought, then that will be bad for lots of you. However, I believe we’ll learn […]

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The State of Accounting Recruitment and Talent Shortages in 2017

The bloody battle over top accounting talent is nothing new. Firms have been dedicating countless hours in meetings over store-bought crudités on the subject of attracting and retaining top talent for years. But a recent Wall Street Journal article about the difficulty private companies are having filling positions for experienced hires got us wondering: just […]

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Talent Crisis Survey: Where Have All the Accountants Gone?

We’ve looked everywhere. In a March 6 article in The Wall Street Journal, we learn that there is some kind of accounting shortage, particularly for “companies adjusting to accounting-rule changes in the U.S.” In other words, public companies are struggling to poach or even barely seduce experienced hires from public accounting firms. Per the article: […]

PwC’s Recruiting Will Take a Hit Over the Oscars Debacle

Forty-two years ago I sat down to make an important life decision, my second in two years.  The first was to go to graduate school instead of accepting a commission in the Marine Corps. The second was to join Price Waterhouse. Marriage would come later. I was the first in my family to go to […]

PwC’s Recruiting Never Sleeps

PwC loves millennials. There are countless examples to prove this. Bob Moritz sticks up for them in public. Tim Ryan has them over for Thanksgiving so they can avoid their families. They help them pay off student loans. They respect (but do not condone) stylish holes. They (allegedly!) discriminate against the olds. They do all […]

Starting Salaries for Accounting Positions Keep Going Up

If you're a college student studying accounting, prepare your gloat face. Starting salaries for accounting and finance positions are expected to go up 3%-4.3% next year according to Robert Half's new salary guide.

The Future Audit Team: Smaller, Nerdier, Expensiver

As auditing changes, naturally, so will the auditors. Technology drives a lot of this change so it stands to reason that people who understand and build technology will become the new auditors. Or, maybe accounting programs will become more technology focused. Either way, recruiting auditors will look very different and sooner than you might think. […]

That Time an Accounting Firm Recruiter Told Me That My Personality Sucked

The only thing worse than sweating through your suitcoat in an interview? Not getting the job. The only thing worse than not getting the job? Getting a rejection letter. The only thing worse than that? Getting a four minute long voicemail from a Big 4 recruiter explaining that you didn't get the job because, “Yeah, […]

Don’t Miss Accountingfly’s Meet The Firms Week

Starting Monday, Accountingfly will be hosting Meet the Firms Week, an online event that connects accounting students with firms from across the U.S. There will be loads of valuable career information and if you register, your resume will reach over 7,500 accounting firms who are hiring entry-level talent. Read more about the benefits for students […]

McGladrey’s HR Department Is Interested in Relationships with Minors

Have you heard? The accounting profession is in crisis. The unemployment rate for accountants is at 2.2 percent, making it almost impossible for a licensed CPA to collect unemployment; and baby boomers are retiring like Brett Farve in 2006 and 2008 and 2009 and 2010, which means that younger CPAs are going to get promoted […]

DeAndre Jordan: A Slam Dunk Recruiting Case Study

Earlier this week, one of the wackiest free agency circuses in NBA history occurred. I realize this is an accounting website, so many of you probably don’t have even the faintest idea what I’m talking about. I will summarize it for you. Last Friday, Los Angeles Clippers star basketball player DeAndre Jordan verbally accepted an […]

PwC and Deloitte Are Recruiting Like Crazy in the UK

Here's your news from across the pond courtesy of economia: PwC and Deloitte have been named among the top recruiters of graduates in 2015, with 1,570 and 1,100 vacancies respectively Graduate recruitment by the UK's top 100 employers is set to reach a level not seen for more than a decade, new research by High […]

Here’s Your Open Thread for Public Accounting Full-Time Offers: Fall 2014

Did you recently get an offer? Have you been dying to have an avenue to share how much you'll be making and who you'll be working for? BOY are you in luck! This is your place to find out how your offer stacks up. If you're feeling cheated — or, worse, if you didn't get […]

Why are People in Public Accounting So Ridiculously Good Looking?

Alright, now this one definitely has to be a troll. From Reddit: As a student going through recruiting season, I can't help but notice that all the people I'm meeting, whether or not they are interns, associates, managers, or partners, seem to be extremely charismatic and attractive. The men seem like husband material (especially the […]

EY Admits They’ll Still Take You Even if Your GPA Sucks

In FT's Test results can define young careers, we learn that EY will give you a chance even with a 3.0 if you can explain your crappy grades: At Ernst & Young, the global accounting firm, good grades are a key qualification for entry-level jobs and a reliable measurement of “technical ability and work ethic”, […]

15 Reasons Why EY’s BuzzFeed Post Is a Bunch of Malarkey

BuzzFeed will let anyone and their mama post on their platform, including myself (see: 13 Things Only People Who Are Human Will Understand). Not wanting to be left out of the fun, EY has partnered (read: paid) with BuzzFeed to feed their carefully crafted message — in gif form, no less — to unsuspecting young […]

EY Is Not Against Using the Deloitte LinkedIn Group for Recruiting Purposes

It may not be specifically forbidden in the unspoken Big 4 playbook but I believe it is assumed that firms consider other firms' LinkedIn groups off limits when it comes to spamming for candidates. This guy at EY did not get the memo: Now, the video isn't just an informative short film on, say, ethics […]

Deloitte Reveals the Secrets Behind the Life at Deloitte Twitter Account

How many times have we wistfully wondered "there is no way this can be a real person, it has to be some HR bot" while scrolling through the Life at Deloitte account? Surely no one is that intoxicated on Kool-Aid. Are they? According to this interview with Marketing Sherpa, they are. Deloitte saw the account […]

What’s the Deal with These Public Accounting Sophomore Leadership Programs?

Recruiting events and firm slogans may change over time — even year to year — but one thing is constant: competition for top talent. Long gone are the days when firms scrutinized a candidate’s grade in intermediate accounting to see if they could make the cut. Today some firms aren’t even waiting for candidates to […]

EY Is Pounding the Pavement for Auditors

Are you in the UK? Are you looking for a career opportunity with a global company? Are you walking on a sidewalk? Great, have we got the campaign for you! If you really think about it, who better to recruit than a bunch of aimless shoegazers?

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" […]

Recruiting Season: There’s No Crying in Accounting

Are you desperate for an internship, full-time position, ANYTHING that won't have you slumming it as a freeloading 47%er? Email us your questions about getting a job, leaving a job or making hummus. I'm in need of some serious help. Tonight was one of the most humiliating experiences I have had in recent memory. It was […]

Reminder to PwC Partners: The Firm Won’t Be Considering Your Deadbeat Relatives for a Job

As fall approaches, Big 4 recruiting for next year's crop of capital market servants will shift into high gear. This means lots of handshakes at catered events where students will make small talk, laugh awkwardly, and feign listening in order to land that all-important first job. There's a lot of preparation involved for these students […]

Call for Submissions: Send Us The Worst Accounting Firm Recruiting Brochures You’ve Seen

Most of your offers are signed and many of you are ready to start at your new firms this fall but surely you've got some horrible recruiting brochures lying around that you'd love to show off. You know the ones I'm talking about; the smiling auditor hanging out in the jungles of Costa Rica, the […]

Here Are Two Accounting-themed Videos Parodying “Call Me Maybe” That You Didn’t Ask For

We've received a number of emails in the past 24 hours pointing to a recruiting video out of PwC Singapore that parodies an awful (yet, awfully catchy) song. I'm only sharing it with you because it deserves public worldwide scorn so this travesty will not be repeated by any misguided recruiting teams here in the […]

Overly Emotional PwC Partner Reminds Everyone In the Most Emotional Way Possible Not To Get Emotional About Penn State

The following email came out of PwC this morning and before we get to the part where we all stand here with our jaws on the floor wondering what we just read, let's all take a moment and remind ourselves that this is still a sensitive situation, one that remains pretty heated and emotional for […]

McGladrey Takes a Unique – If Annoying – Approach to Recruiting Talent

Considering interviewing with McGladrey? You might want to reconsider, lest your email inbox get blown up 2 years later. Or just hit the unsubscribe button the first time they follow up with you. Consider yourselves forewarned. From the tip box: Hello, I'd like to share with you the continued failure that McGladrey thrive to be. […]

Accounting Students Looking for That Extra Edge Should Look No Further Than Big 4 Bootcamp

Many dewey-eyed accounting students dream of capping off their time in college with a job at a Big 4 firm. But getting that elusive offer isn't as easy as it seems. There are many ambitious candidates that would step over their own mothers to get an offer so some candidates want a little extra edge […]

LinkedIn Etiquette: Adding Professionals You Meet During the Recruiting Process

This one comes from the mailbag. If you're somewhat new to GC, let me break it down: I can help you with all things social media and the CPA exam. Salary questions and all that crap should go to our general advice mailbox but if you have a question about how not be an ass […]

Ever Wonder What Accounting Recruiting Seminars Look Like? Here You Go

The following slides were sent to us from a reliable source who works within public accounting in a capacity that does not involve actual accounting. Call that talent acquisition if you'd like, all we know is that our source sat in on an actual seminar about recruiting talent that included these actual slides. I don't […]

Can a Reformed Degenerate Drug Addict Break Into Public Accounting?

Ed. note: Are family and friends frequently throwing labels like "workaholic loser who will be alone forever" in your direction? Maybe you need some advice on how to balance things better. Email us your situation and we'll shovel some guidance your way. I would appreciate your guidance on how to break into the public accounting […]

Big 4 Wanna-Be Who’d Even Settle For BDO Just Can’t Get a Break

Ed. note: While we can’t go rough up recruiters on your behalf, we’re happy to give you advice on how to make them do your bidding for you. Get in touch, we’ll put our team of trained monkeys on your problem right away. Also, I apologize in advance for the length of this letter.

Good evening Adrienne,

I’m a senior at the University of Michigan due to graduate in 2012 with a double major in accounting & finance with over 150 credits. I recently went through the recruiting process at the University to try and land an internship and I happened to land a couple.

My issue here is that I didn’t get any internships with any of the firms that I was really looking forward to interning with GM, Chrysler, another Fortune 500 corporation, Baker Tilly, Plante Moran, and another regional public accounting firm. My favorites which were Plante Moran and Baker Tilly didn’t seem to like my performance at the interviews and so I never heard back from them. But I did get offers from the regional public accounting firm for a winter and summer internship with a large Fortune 500 corporation that I did accept.

The reasons why I did not perform well during my first few interviews was because it was my first time having job interviews of this sort and so I was unprepared. I have since had numerous mock interviews with family and friends and I am now very good at interviewing, but I feel that it is a little too late because the damage has already been done, all of the firms have already gone through the recruiting process at our University.

I did apply for PwC, Deloitte, and E&Y early on but I never heard back from them. KPMG does not recruit at our campus. I thought that I was a very solid candidate with an overall GPA over 3.8 and a 4.0 accounting GPA which I have maintained while holding a part time job throughout my college career. I think the area where I am lacking is the volunteering department but I have been active in Beta Alpha Psi which I do volunteer work through. I have participated in programs such as Junior Achievement amongst others. I would have done a lot more volunteer work but I am the oldest child from a single parent home. We have 5 younger children in our family whom I help my mother take care of (if you’re wondering where our father is, I am too; we haven’t heard from him since 2001)!

My dream is to work for a Big 4 firm but I am having a hard time landing any interviews with them. Considering that I will be interning with a regional this winter and a large corporate firm during the summer of 2012, do you think I will ever break into the Big 4? They say that once you start working for a regional firm, it is extremely tough to move up into a larger firm such as one of the Big 6. I have worked very hard over the past 4 years and I feel that I deserve it, but I understand that I am not entitled to it just because I have worked hard up to this point. If it is at all possible to break into the Big 4, do you have any advice on how I should go about doing so considering that I will be graduating soon? I only have about 4 classes left before I graduate so I won’t be in school for that much longer.

The regional accounting firm is a great firm but I just don’t feel like it would be a good fit for me. I’m not ungrateful, I do realize that there are hundreds of students in the same position that I’m in who interviewed with numerous firms and didn’t get a single offer. I’m happy that I got 2 offers from different firms. I just feel that I would be much happier with either a Big 4 firm or maybe even BDO or Grant Thornton. Can you give me any advice about breaking into any one of these firms?

Also, I feel that since I didn’t do well at the interviews with Plante Moran and Baker Tilly which are 2 very highly regarded firms, I will never be able to work for these firms in the future. Do you think I have a chance of redeeming myself with them? What advice do can you give a person such as myself?

In case anyone finds this to be TL;DR, I’ll save you a few minutes and sum up the predicament: soon to graduate, 3.8 GPA, flopped Plante Moran and Baker Tilly interviews and wants to get into the Big 4, BAD. You’re welcome.

Anyway, I have to admit I’m a little stumped. On paper, you sound great. High GPA, u spell gud, Junior Achievement and BAP experience, able to express yourself… wait a minute, maybe that’s it. You know how to express yourself.

I’m going to go way out here and wonder out loud if your lack of success with the firms you want centers around the fact that you have a pretty good idea of what you want. You probably also have opinions you are not afraid to express. You realize that scares the crap out of firms looking for a blank, unquestioning canvas they can mold into their own private workhorse, right? You use words like “I feel,” which you are not allowed to do when you work for the Big 4. I kid. Kind of.

Your point about being unprepared for interviews should serve as a lesson to the junior accounting students out there reading this: interview skills are critical for landing a gig in public before you leave school. Anyone who actually works in a public accounting office can confirm that you don’t even have to be much of a step above completely awkward to get the job, you just have to know how to shine at an interview.

Are you doomed forever? Doubtful. There is not some master list the firms share amongst themselves that brands you as a loser for the entirety of your life in public.

My suggestion to you would be to fast track the CPA exam as having that done will definitely make you more marketable. Also make sure you are discoverable to recruiters by having a strong LinkedIn presence once you have some work experience under your belt, and try to do as much networking as possible both online and in the real world; any professional events you might be able to sneak off to will allow you to make personal impressions with those in positions you are working toward.

In the meantime, try not to feel too butthurt about the regional firm gig (try this discussion earlier about mid-size firm opportunities). On the bright side, you actually got an internship, so use it.

Can anyone else help this guy out? I’m kind of stuck for ideas.

Ex-Marine Who Missed Internship Deployment Looking For His Next Assignment

Do you guys ever get an insidious sense of deja vu when reading some of these advice posts? I know I do. Anyway, here’s another lost little sheep looking for a sense of direction in this big scary world. If you’re feeling lost, hopeless, confused or otherwise unsure, hit us up with your issue and we’ll do our best not to make fun of you in front of everyone.

Dear GC,

I have a situation that may be just a little bit different than most college undergraduates but can’t be the only one in this situation. I attend a small private business sch I am a Marine Corps veteran of 4 years and currently using the G.I. Bill as an undergraduate accounting student with a 3.62 GPA. I am in my second year; however, this is my 4th semester and because I do summer semesters as well and I got 21 credits from military experience, I am right along with the Juniors in terms of graduation date. In fact I will have more credits than them when they graduate needing only 15 more to get the 150. The problem arises in me being ahead, yet behind. I am far ahead of the the sophomores, yet a little behind the juniors in regards to accounting courses completed. I am taking Intermediate I and AIS this semester and Intermediate II and Tax in the Spring. I thought because I didn’t have that many accounting courses completed going into this semester that I should wait to apply for internships, especially Big 4. Then I found out that the most accounting firms around here do all of their recruiting in September. Even though Deloitte and PwC are the only big 4 firms recruiting at my school. So I started applying for internships in October to smaller firms and filling out talent profiles on the Big 4 websites. I do plan on attending University of Pittsburgh’s MAcc 1 year program after graduation so I would in a sense have another summer opportunity to get an internship. My question is, should I in the meantime try and get an internship doing individual tax returns or private accounting at a chain retail company? (I have offers for both) Ideally I want something in Public, and eventually that is what I want to; however, would either of those internships help me at all in the long run towards getting an internship with the Big 4 next year? Also like I said only those 2 seem to recruit at my school. Is there anyway to really have a chance at E&Y or KPMG? Thank you in advance.

First off, thank you for your service to this country. My grandfather was a Marine (enlisted just before the end of WW II and missed the action), so out of respect to you for your service, I’m not going to make an excessive number of comments about how much editing I had to do to make your letter readable. But I will make a humble suggestion (in case you weren’t just being sloppy given who you were emailing), please tighten up your writing a bit before you go out there sniffing for Big 4 gigs. Granted, most recruiters can’t spell recruiter but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be putting your best foot forward here.

Now that we got that out of the way, can I ask you something? Why are you so dead set on the Big 4? You’re not actually planning on spending your entire career there, are you? It is unclear from your email why you want to be in the Big 4 so bad, so we’re going to assume here that either you drank the Kool-aid or don’t realize that there are a myriad of other opportunities for someone with your background.

Coming from a small school with low recruitment and boasting a 3.62 GPA probably won’t make you stand out on any HR desks anytime soon but the tide could definitely turn when you get in to the University of Pittsburgh MAcc program, assuming you do well and are able to attend recruiting events that are likely more active than the ones at your current school. As you noted, this is good. Also good: your military service (they eat that stuff up, it shows an ability to take orders and not revolt) and the fact that you will definitely be CPA eligible from the moment they bring you on.

What’s the rush in the meantime? Are you looking for the experience? Trying to get your foot in the door in public? Have bills to pay? Just want to get out of the house? You have plenty on your plate (not to mention the CPA exam ahead of you), if I were you I’d just focus on school for now instead of considering doing tax returns in your spare time. Unless that’s what you want to do with the rest of your career.

Since many accounting students participate in VITA anyway, telling recruiters you interned on tax returns probably isn’t going to earn you many points. And unless the “private accounting” gig involves work under a licensed CPA that you can use toward your experience requirement for CPA licensure, I wouldn’t bother.

Comment section is open for the Peanut Gallery’s (much appreciated) two cents.

You’ve Been Denied by the Big 4. What Next?

Ed. note: Have a question for the career advice brain trust? Email us at advice@goingconcern.com.

Hello Going Concern,

I’m currently finishing my last semester at the University of Kentucky, I’m a fifth year student that will be graduating in December with a dual degree in accounting and economics. The recruitment period for the big 4, regional and local firms are all over and done. I applied to basically all of the positions/internships and was not asked to interview for any of them. At first, I naively thought they just weren’t hiring from my school, but the voice of reason deep inside my head finally convinced me that it was indy own doing. My GPA was simply too low (about a 3.1).

Granted, accounting is a challenging course of study, also majoring in econ certainly steals valuable time and energy towards getting that very good GPA. My problem now, is where to go from here. I can’t change the past and must move forward, from all indications I will graduate in December with no job prospects. Should I continue to push and attempt to network with the larger firms, or should I just try and get a position somewhere….anywhere, accounting related to develop some valuable experience? I didn’t do a good job at all of networking through college, just put my head down and hit the books. I’m not a social pariah by any means, however I know that this shyness of mine will not cut it and has hindered me tremendously at this point. I feel overwhelmed and a little disheartened at the makings of the future. If I don’t land a firm job will I be stuck in a perpetual rut in a dead end job? Is it important to avoid the private industry right out of college to get a taste of what you like in the public industry? How would you go about networking out of college, cold calling? I know I’ve asked a bunch of questions here, and maybe have not provided enough background information. To be outstanding you must stand out, now I’m at the crossroads of trying to do just that, but am a little unsure of how to start.

Sincerely,
Pablo


Pablo,

Playing the “I’m holding out for a job in public” doesn’t pay the rent or student loan bills. Not only are you up against stiff competition due to your lower-than-most-interns GPA, and self-decribed “shyness”, you’re fighting the timelines of every firm’s recruiting schedule. Meaning, the firms are done with their hiring needs by this point in time, especially if you are in a smaller market. You ask in your email to GC if you should “continue to push and attempt to network with the larger firms” only to admit in the next sentence that you “didn’t do a good job at all of networking through college, just put my head down and hit the books.” What the hell happened? Your email leaves me wondering if you simply dropped the ball on putting any effort into your job search, leaning too heavily on the notion that all you need is an accounting degree to receive free job handouts.

If going into public accounting was always the goal, your economics degree was not necessary. As “majoring in econ certainly steals valuable time and energy towards getting a very good GPA,” why didn’t you cut your losses after a few classes and drop the major? If your answer is “because I was interested in the subject,” I’m going to call bullshit. If you were so interested in the topic, one would safely assume you would, you know, do well in those classes.

But enough about the past – given that you are about six weeks from graduating, you need to be aggressive with your job search.

Contact Career Services – Your school’s career services should have resources available to help you overcome some of the interview/social anxiety you might have that has held you back in your efforts to network with employers up to this point. They can set you up with meetings, discussions groups, mock interviews, etc. Take advantage of these free resources now; in six weeks it’ll cost you.

Stop being so damn picky – Your questions above gave me the impression that you’re being too picky (dead end jobs worries, hesitation about entering private industry instead of seeking public accounting experience, etc.). The economy – if you haven’t noticed – sucks. You’re entering a job market that is sputtering around nine percent unemployment and approximately 103 percent underemployment. Your competition is more experienced and potentially has better grades and soft skills than you.

The job market – even for accountants – is a simple numbers game – You apply to 30 jobs. You receive interviews at five. You receive second rounds at three. You hope for one offer. You should be applying to accounting roles in every industry in every sized firm. If they’re seeking an accounting degree, your résumé should be there. Search Indeed, LinkedIn, and the Monsters of the world on your own. Look into your college’s resources for alumni. Get in touch with recruiters in your area to see if they have any entry level or temp to perm positions. Play the numbers and see what hits. Good luck, and keep your head up.

First-Generation Americans’ Parents Need Convincing That Accounting Is a Better Career Choice Than Law

As we all know, the Big 4 are more than happy to market themselves as the melting pots of the professional services world. First in your family to go to college? Great! Not an Ivy League graduate? No problem! Completely devoid of WASPyness? Even better! With the relative success of the firms to market this inclusive culture, however, Reuters reports that the biggest challenge is convincing the parents of first-generation recruits that accounting is just as worthy of a career path as medicine or law:

Accounting has long provided a path for first-generation Americans into the professional classes. Good pay and a focus on numbers makes it an attractive career choice. Still, recruiting the children of immigrants is complex, say some Certified Public Accountants (CPAs). Parents’ opinions are influential and they often don’t know the field, a problem that alternatives like medicine or the law don’t face. Once on the job, first-generation CPAs can face new challenges like decoding the relationship-driven, sometimes self-promotional American business culture.

Makes sense to me. Medicine is easy because doctors are in the life-saving business. Law is attractive because parents hope that they might become Jack McCoy or the protagonist in a John Grisham novel. But accounting? Jesus, numbers are boring, it’s not even a real profession:

When Maria Castanon Moats, PwC’s chief diversity officer, told her family that she planned to be a CPA, she remembers her parents asked “Why not be a lawyer?”

“They did not understand this accounting thing … To them, a professional was an attorney or a doctor,” said Moats, 43. Moats, who emigrated from Mexico at the age of one with her father, a migrant farmworker, said the profession appealed to her because it brought stability. High ethical standards and integrity, strong values in her family, were also important. Now, as part of the firm’s 14-member leadership team, she welcomes young recruits with a similar background. “The first generation really wants to be successful to make their parents proud. They are committed and loyal,” she said.

We’ve had the accounting vs. law debate before and we don’t to call Elie Mystal in here to explain why pursuing a career in a law is a risky proposition. The Reuters article doesn’t come out and say it but it really amounts to candidates educating their parents about the advantages to pursuing a career in accounting. Recruiters at the Big 4 can’t really say, “Clue your parents in,” so they put on aggressive marketing campaigns to tout diversity and inclusion. The students take this message back to mom and dad (along with salary ranges) and they start warming up to the idea. This way, everyone is happy. The kids get a decent job; the parents can beam about the CPA in the family. Sure, accounting isn’t justice but it beats being unemployed and doing this:

Accounting can be door to U.S. professional class [Reuters]

Big 4 Recruiting Season: Career Fair Tips

Got a question for the career advice brain trust? Email us at advice@goingconcern.com.

Good afternoon, GC’ers. I’m going to be devoting posts to general campus recruiting advice this week. College students – listen up. Already-employed cohorts – chime in with your own advice. Today I’m going to cover Career Fairs, everyone’s favorite meat market.


Questions you should be ready for – “Did you submit your resume through Career Services? Did you submit our firm’s additional paperwork? When do you graduate? What office are you interested in? Will you be CPA eligible up graduation? What practice are you interested in?” If you know what practiced you’ sure to have your paperwork submitted through the necessary online means. Don’t know what you’re applying for? Read below…

Know what you’re applying for – Nothing worse than talking to a student who is, “Uhhhhhhh, you know, I’m open to anything.” To me, that means you are unfamiliar with my firm’s services and you’re standing in line like a lemming because you know it’s good for you. Do you homework ahead of time about what practice groups are being targeted on your campus. Here’s a hint – focus on the job posts that are on your Career Services site; this is what each firm is focused on and actively recruiting for from your particular school. Don’t see Transaction Advisory Services listed? Probably ain’t gonna happen.

Suit up – Take a piece of advice from Barney Stinson and rock a suit to the Fair. It doesn’t need to be an expensive suit; heck, it doesn’t even have to be yours. Personally, I’m not a fan of the trend of suits becoming the norm at career fairs but it is better to match your competition than to assume “different is better.” Accounting firms are not Google; they breed a conservative culture. Play along, at least until you have an offer.

In an effort to avoid this becoming an Esquire-like blog post, I’ll keep my suit advice simple.

Ladies: Make sure your blouse is comfortably but securely buttoned, and take the potential of taller recruiters (aka wandering eyes) into consideration. Also, avoid hot magenta or any other color that would be included in a pack of highlighters.

Gents: That Calvin Klein tag on the outside of your jacket’s left sleeve? Yeah, that’s supposed to come off. Also, be sure to open your pockets and jacket vents before going to the Fair. It’s always awkward to see a guy trying to stuff a business card into a sewn up pocket.

Relax. Don’t sweat it. – Really, I mean that. Few things are more repulsive than shaking the moist hand of an anxious student. It can get hot at career fairs, I know. You can do a couple of things to chill out if you have a sweating problem: 1) Hold you résumé folder in your left hand and keep your right hand out of your pocket. This will let your hand breathe. 2) Small talk the person next you – it will help both of you relax. 3) A good swipe of your right hand on the back of your leg when you know your turn is coming up is totally fair game.

Always mints, never gum – There’s a good chance you’ll have to wait in line at the Big 4 booths. As you’re waiting in the mass herd of people, pop a few Tic Tacs or mints (avoid Altoids – too strong). They’ll help you relax and will be gone before you start speaking to the recruiter.

Business cards = cheat sheets – Ask for business cards when you meet with the professionals at the career fair (note – if they don’t have any, just remember to get their name so you can take notes later). Generally speaking, they are alums from your school and are excited to be back on campus and they can be a great resource going forward. They will also be at other events, even as early as the same week as the career fair. In between visiting booths, take two minutes to scribble notes on the back of the business card to help you remember who they were. “Black hair.” “Red glasses.” “Talked about baking.” “Mentioned she was an Eagles fan.” Reviewing these cards prior to next week’s firm-sponsored social event on campus will help you remember the connections much better.

Find out when they’ll be back – The five minutes you spend with the recruiters and professionals at the career fairs are not enough to earn yourself an interview. It is imperative you make personal connections with members of each firm. Beta Alpha Psi presentations. Cheesy happy hour mixers. Whatever. Go, shake hands, and laugh at their jokes. Earn yourself an interview.

Remember your manners – Thank everyone for their time. As happy to be on campus as they may be, many of the professionals will put in hours for work back at their hotels later that night. It is not always easy for them to take time off from work to make the trips back, so have a little respect for their time and their neglected inboxes.

Have anything to add? Email us or leave your comments below.

Are the Big 4 Starting to Demand Higher GPAs From New Recruits?

Ed. note: Got a question for the career advice brain trust? Email us at advice@goingconcern.com.

Hi GC,

I am a longtime reader of this website and it has never failed me so here I go once more – some Big Four positions just got posted to our school’s résumé submission website here at University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign. PwC internship and full time positions have a minimum required GPA of 3.4 while EY is 3.2 and KPMG is 3.0. Deloitte’s have not been posted. I know our school isn’t the greatest in accounting [Ed. note: huh?]and the public accounting profession pales in comparison to investment banking and management consulting but a 3.4 MINIMUM GPA to apply??

Last year’s minimum GPA was 3.0 to apply which was understandable but this new recruiting team from PwC increased the GPA by 0.4. Do they feel like someone is throwing out GPA points like Bernanke is throwing out dollars? Would it be kosher to change my 3.37 GPA to 3.4/4.0 on my resume to qualify for on campus interviews?

Best,
Drinking Beer in Champaign

Dear DBinC,

I’m always glad to throw a loyal reader some freebie advice. Thanks for checkin’ in with us.

First of all, forget that last year’s GPA requirement was 0.4 points lower; last year is irrelevant. Put your game face on and rise to the challenge.

Yes, absolutely round your 3.37 up to a 3.4. That’s fair game. In fact, this is a non-issue.

Also, take two minutes of your time to figure out what your major-specific GPA is. Should that be higher than the 3.4 cumulative GPA, add it to your résumé as well. There’s no reason that Intro to Woodcarving should hurt your chances of interning with one of the Big 4.

Why are the GPA requirements rising? To weed out résumés, obviously. Why look through 500 when you can whittle things down to 400 by cutting out the bottom? If you fall into this range, beg, borrow, and NETWORK your way to an interview. Circumstances are individual – if you have a story or reason as to why you’re on the cusp, track down the recruiter (not a audit/tax professional) at the career fair and state your case. Hard work can be rewarded in cases like this.

How Should an Academic Zero to Hero Approach Recruiting Season?

Ed. note: Have a question for the career advice brain trust? Email us at advice@goingconcern.com.

Going Concern,

I’ve been worrying about this for so long, I’m hoping some people in the profession can shed some light on my fears. When I was 18, I was an idiot. I attended a school far away and I literally never attended class. I also never dropped any classes. Needless to say, I flunked out with many Fs on my transcript (almost a full year’s worth). Later on, I went to a community college and remained an idiot. I did the same thing. My GPA was ~0.9.

Fast forward a few years in a new location, and things are a different story. I went to a community college down here and after screwing up yet again in the first term, I had a 4.0 GPA for the remaining 18 classes. I matriculated to a 4 year school (automatic admission in Florida for AA graduates) and continued. My last 64 credits have been straight As, and I have taken some of the hardest accounting classes – including Cost and two Theories.

I am absolutely dreading recruiting. My institution tells me that my “real” GPA consists of the grades I’ve earned at the school – which would make my GPA a 4.0. However, my transcript is going to have my overall GPA of 2.6 on it. To make matters worse, my actual coursework from the newer community college won’t be on the transcript so they won’t even notice much of an admirable grade trend.

I am also not a member of Beta Alpha Psi. To be an accounting major at my school, you need a 3.0 GPA – I was ineligible my first semester. Since I did not have an accounting GPA before last week, I have to submit my application in the next few weeks. I hope their admissions process isn’t so slow that I miss out on any of their opportunities. OCR is next month.

I know this is a scattered story that very few people can relate to. I don’t know what happened in those years and can’t understand it either. If anyone has some direction for me I would be extremely grateful.

Thank you and I love the site. It’s easily my favorite place for shameless mental masturbation when I’m feeling anxious.

– Zero to Hero

Dear Z to H:

Whatever you did to break out of the unfortunate streak of bottom feeding failures in the classroom and get yourself up to a 4.0-GPA-earning level, please tell me. I would like to make it, bottle it, and sell it to the masses.

The way that your college calculates “real” GPAs is standard for the industry; realize that this is absolutely to your advantage. The 4.0 you are currently carrying should be reflected on your résumé. Also on your résumé should be the time you spent at the community college. The time there launched you to where you are now.

Do not be afraid to approach recruiters. That said, I recommend talking to every firm regardless of size. Some might be turned off by your unconventional path to Dean’s List. Be prepared to be honest with the recruiters about your first attempt at college and the years you took off and when you began to right the ship. Honesty is absolutely the best approach here, because come offer time you will need to provide a transcript of your academic history. You want the transcript to be confirmation of your story, not the bombshell. Good luck.

Heresy: Dennis Nally Says Money Isn’t the Only Motivator for Recruiting Millenials at PwC

Apparently, things like “mobility” and “skill development” are important too. If you can believe that.

Having a competitive compensation base is really important. It’s [also] about how to create an environment where people want to be. This millennial generation is not just looking for a job, they’re not just looking for salary and financial benefits, they’re looking for skill development, they’re looking for mobility, they’re looking for opportunities to acquire different skills and to move quickly from one part of an organization to another. How you manage that sort of talent and how you deal with their expectations is very different from what’s been done in the past.

So I guess that means that none of the London recruits will be stuck at the Embankment Place dump. That doesn’t sound like an environment where anyone would want to be.

PwC Chairman Aims to Keep Millennials Happy [WSJ]

How Does an Overachiever Stand Out From Other Overachievers During Big 4 Recruiting Season?

Ed. note: Got a question for Dan Braddock or anyone else on the GC advice team? Email us at advice@goingconcern.com and we’ll get to your query in due time.

Dear Going Concern,

I am currently a sophomore in college and am interested in a Big 4 internship (Chicago) for the summer of 2012. This means that I will be
involved in the heavy recruiting season this coming fall. I have a 4.0 GPA, am on my way to becoming Executive VP of Beta Alpha Psi, am a member of the Accounting Club, and have done some volunteer work. Any tips on how to stand out from the sea of other students just like me? Should I do anything else before recruiting season besides networking? Any advice would be appreciatedver

Big 4 Lover,

Glad to see that GC has some young people in the audience. Take what you read here with a grain of salt and shot of tequila – adulthood makes people cranky, not just public accounting.

Be cognizant of the fact that there are two versions of you that every recruiter sees: the version of you on paper and the version of you in real life. Either version can make or break your candidacy. Let’s break it down:

You on paper: At first read, the “résumé” you describe seems just fine – you’re maintaining strong grades while being involved in extracurricular activities outside of the classroom, even holding a leadership position. I wonder if your “volunteer experience” was only due to the Beta Alpha Psi volunteer requirement or if you do it on your own; either way, this is minor and I’m nitpicking for the sake of nitpicking. Any Big 4 recruiter will have your résumé sitting in their “yes” pile going into the fall recruiting season.

However, your résumé is strong on the “I am just trying to land an internship at a Big 4 firm.” What are your interests outside the realm of debits and credits? Unless you are a living, breathing calculator, I’d like to think that you have hobbies other than what is described above (this is assuming you did not leave any experiences out when describing your background above). I encourage you to diversify your experiences in college – not just for the sake of your résumé but for the sanity as well. VP of the Wiffle Ball Club? Great. Part of the campus sewing circle? Fantastic. Genuine, non-accounting extracurriculars will not only enrich your life but they’ll be great conversation starters when you begin meeting with recruiters and Big 4 professionals on campus.

You in real life: As you mentioned, you’ll be in the thick of the recruiting process this fall. Being that you’re only a sophomore (and probably on the 5 year track due to Illinois requiring 150 credits for the CPA), you’ll be interviewing for the “leadership” programs at the Big 4. These lead to internships which lead to job offers which lead to high-fives and back slaps for everyone. Here’s what you need to do when you meet the firms:

Do not regurgitate your resume – let your strong résumé speak for itself. No one likes a bragger, not even your mother.

Do not be too transparent – 99.99997% of Beta Alpha Psi members join the society because it looks good on a résumé. DO NOT TELL THE RECRUITER THAT. Unless you want to come across as an internship-chasing fool, then by all means go ahead and say so.

Do not suck up – There is a subtle difference between saying, “I’m only a sophomore, but I have heard positive things about your firm from my professors and older classmates and I’m hoping to learn more,” and “OMFG your company is so cool!!!”

Be yourself – you are more than accounting. The best people you’ll ever work with in the industry will also be much, much more than debits and credits.

KPMG Advisory Doubles Down

KPMG’s head of advisory practice in the Americas, Mark Goodburn, recently gave an interview to Consulting Magazine where he predicted that the House of Klynveld would double its advisory revenue by 2015. While this an admirable goal, it certainly causes one to pause and ask the obvious question: “Does this mean we get double the meat?”

But forgetting animal flesh for just a sec, it may cause the more serious-minded of you to ask, “Just how in hell are you going to do that?” Well, MG goes into details about “transformational business,” “the evolving world of risk,” “the myriad of changes in public policy and regulation” and that’s all fine and good but we’re most interested/curious/shaking with anticipation about the acquisitions the firm will make.

Doubling a multi-billion-dollar business in no easy task, for sure, especially when you consider that KPMG advisory will probably have to significantly outpace the market, which most forecasters— including Kennedy Consulting Research & Advisory—expect will experience very modest growth the next several years. Most likely, the firm will have to make a few significant acquisitions along the way.

This probably doesn’t come as a surprise since we’ve seen Deloitte and PwC shopping around to boost their own advisory practices but Goodburn says you won’t see the HofK making a move on every boutique out there:

Goodburn’s quick to point out that any potential acquisitions, would have to meet KPMG’s criteria—the ability to upgrade to a global platform, quality controls that match the firm’s standards and a financially attractive opportunity for clients and employees. “We’re only looking for companies that meet our standards” he says.

Right, then. So for all you consulting boutiques out there sexing yourselves up to get a big pay day, you better be a match or you won’t be getting a blue rose. KPMG is looking for soulmates.

Naturally, all this revenue-doubling and business development talk means headcount will increase. The firm has already put it out there that they plan on hiring people in spades and MG makes no secret about who will be leading the charge:

Goodburn says KPMG has been hiring pretty aggressively since the firm saw its first sustained uptick back in early 2010, but will that be enough to keep pace? “We certainly expect advisory to grow faster than other parts of the KPMG business in the near and possibly longer term,” Goodburn says. “Our brand is very strong right now, clients are demanding our services, our people are outstanding, and our ability to recruit is extremely high.”

So, from the sounds of it, opportunity abounds for KPMG’s advisory business and anyone interested in joining the blue team. Whether this manifests into an extra-beefy future remains to be seen.

Double Time for KPMG [Consulting Magazine]

KPMG Takes Subtle Approach Wooing Anyone Interested in a Job at Ernst & Young

Recruiting for the talent amongst the Big 4 is competitive. This is known. What isn’t widely known are all the tactics in this competitive game of catch the accountant. In the past, we have seen direct solicitation by an E&Y recruiter which may be an effective method but it may be too abrasive for many within in the business who value propriety over the win-at-all-costs attitude.

Now comes news of a more subtle approach from KPMG, courtesy of an E&Y tipster who was searching for the firm’s career website:

While searching for the link to my firm’s career website I stumbled upon a pretty awesome ad (in a “ohhhh no you didn’t!” sort of way).


Since we’re fairly unfamiliar (read: completely unfamiliar) with Google’s method to the madness, we can only speculate how this little link found its way to the very top of Google search of “ey careers” but it does say “Ad,” so make of it what you will. Anyhoo, just for fun, we did our own quick Google Search of “ey careers” and got this:

So, it’s in the margin for us as opposed at the very top. But it’s still prominently placed on the search page and it’s also pretty hilarious that the hyperlink, “Ernst & Young Opportunities” goes directly to a KPMG URL (yes, it’s clearly disclosed by the Jobs.KPMGCareers.com at the bottom but who pays attention to that?). Perhaps our tendency to make mountains out of molehills is getting the best of us here but at the very least, this is an exciting twist on Sneaky Pete Piet.

Survey: Young Accountants Think Big 4 Is Overrated

Most people choosing the art of debits and credits as a career path, likely had aspirations for working for one of the illustrious Big 4. Fame, prestige, working with only the finest accountants that Omaha Steaks can buy, are all par for the course. This has been accepted as truth for many years.

But now – if you can believe this – this truth is being called into question in the UK – a part of the world that you might not expect.

Accountancy Age reports that a recent survey has found that young accountants (less than three years experience) are not as hung up on working at a Big 4 firm:

Only 40% of accountants with less than three years’ experience surveyed by recruiter Marks Sattin said it was important to work for a big firm — compared to an average of 67% for all of the 450 accountants surveyed in practice and industry.

“We are entering a new era in financial services…in which candidates want to sell themselves not by reeling off lists of FTSE 100 clients, but on their experience on smaller accounts providing higher levels of responsibility,” said Laura Wilson, associate director of the professional services division at Marks Sattin.

Granted, this is the pulse of the UK but there’s always been a large firm vs. small firm debate and this a trend that makes its way to the States (if it hasn’t already).

The reason for young accountants’ attitude, it turns out, is that they don’t care if they are working on prestigious clients; they are looking for more expansive professional experience:

“Whether it’s true or not, candidates think they’ll be doing work that is more involved at an early stage in their careers by joining a smaller firm. The perception is counting against the Big Four because candidates think that smaller firms offer more variety and more autonomy – and candidates are increasingly willing to sacrifice exposure to the FTSE 100 to get it.”

According to one person quoted in the article, part of this is a generational attitude but we’re not convinced that’s entirely the case. Sure, Gen Y wants to have more responsibility as quickly as possible but it’s not as though the Big 4 are taking on the same number of new recruits each year. As a result, a competitive recruiting process has made smaller firms a very good option. Plus, news about layoffs and a slow climb up the corporate ladder at the largest firms might have some students looking for opportunities.

Make no mistake, working at a Big 4 firm will always be goal number one for a lot of students and young CPAs. Regardless of what any survey says, many still have ambitions to be a partner in one of the largest firms or to work in some of the world’s prestigious companies. But the more informed students and young professionals are about career options, the perceived need for Big 4 experience on your résumé will be less compulsory.

Young accountants shun Big Four firms [Accountancy Age]

Should Grad Students Crash Another School’s ‘Meet the Firms’ Event?

Welcome to the your-life-would-be-easier-if-you-just-embraced-Monday edition of Accounting Career Emergencies. In today’s edition, a graduate student wants to know if crashing another school’s ‘Meet the Firms’ event is a good idea or if it will land him on the Big 4 blacklist.

Looking for some career advice? Need help filling out your Holiday Gift list? Bored with your life after Big 4 and need some ideas on how to fill the hours? Email us at advice@goingconcern.com and we’ll and we’ll find you a hobby in no time.

Back to the Big 4 crasher:

I am attending a master’s of tax program in a small city that only has two Big 4 firms, only one of which does tax. As a result of this, the other firms don’t recruit at our school and won’t let us apply for associate positions because they don’t recruit at our campus.

A couple of classmates and I were wondering if it would be wrong to travel to a larger city and attend that school’s ‘Meet the Firms’ night next year to hand our résumés to the recruiters and get face time with them. Would doing this do more harm that good to us with the firms or would it show how much we want to work for them?

Thanks for the advice,
Small town accountant

Dear Small Town,

We like your enthusiasm for a road trip. This particular journey has a mission, however, so it has a little more significance than your average cruise through the desert with a trunk full of narcotics but we understand you’ve got your future career to consider. Anyway, we’re all for this idea for a couple of reasons: 1) It’s a relatively low-risk proposition that could pay big dividends and 2) If you’ve got some self-control, the trunk full of narcotics could still happen.

That said, the most important thing to keep in mind while on your recruiting journey is that you are wandering into enemy territory (so to speak). This means you’ll have no choice but to be completely honest about your non-affiliation with the school. Your résumés will easily show this but any kind of misrepresentation will eventually torpedo your plans one way or another. Clearly explaining your situation to the firm recruiters will demonstrate your willingness to go the extra mile (or 50 to 100) and assuming you’ve got a stellar résumé, it will likely impress them even more.

As for the risks – your rival school could just up and throw you out once they find out that you’re not affiliated with the school. For starters, you’re jockeying for face time with the firms at the expense of their students. As long as you don’t make a spectacle of yourself, we feel there’s only a small risk of you getting the heave. Likewise, one of the firm’s recruiters may frown on your little crashing escapade but frankly, if you don’t make it seem like a big deal, they won’t either.

So we say go for it – show up, shake hands, chat ’em up and who knows what will happen. You’ve got very little to lose except maybe a job.

Anyone out there who has crashed a recruiting event is invited to share the highlights or if you agree/disagree with the advice, chime in below.

Grant Thornton Employees in Chicago Feeling the Heat to Join Big 4

After reporting rumors that PwC was chasing Deloitte seniors in Chicago, now comes another report out of the House of Chipman:

Is it just me or is pwc trying really hard to bring in seniors in Chicago? The other day at GT, the same pwc recruiter called every S1 in audit asking if we’d be interested in moving over.

A few of us actually answered just to see what he had to say and he was pushing real hard in getting people to accept that if we made a move, we’d have to take a step down (S1 to move over to A3), and that they’d be making a large investment in keeping us long-term (at least through a promotion to manager). This is after we lost a S2 and an A2 who both moved to pwc. Plus, we’ve received several emails from other outside recruiters gauging our interest in the Big 4, not to mention my friends at the Big 4 trying to get me to send them my resume so they can refer me (for a much larger referral bonus, I’m assume). Not sure if this is juicy enough information, but that’s pretty much what’s happening right now over at G to the T.

Here’s the deal people – all the firms need people at the Senior Associate level. All the firms have made it known that they are hiring aggressively, both experienced and entry-level employees and the recruiters within the firms have jobs too. Besides, where are they supposed to look for the appropriate talent to fill their empty positions? Dunkin’ Donuts?

Grant Thornton, believe or not, has plenty of talented people and the Big 4 will take those people if they can get them. Management probably gets tired of all the bellyaching by employees about how short-staffed they are so the pressure is on the recruiters to get asses in the seats.

If you don’t want to be hassled by Big 4 recruiters, simply say, “I’m not interested, thanks,” and go on your merry way. But judging by all the complaining at GT, lots of employees are probably happy to entertain some options.

University of Tampa Wants Accounting Firms to Get to Know Beta Alpha Psi Members with New Recruiting Tool

As previously discussed, the fall recruiting onslaught is a huge part of the major accounting firms’ strategy to keep as many bright-eyed and bushy-tailed auditors, tax and advisory professionals on staff. Some schools simply rely on their reputation for churning out dynamite candidates on paper to keep the firms coming back but what about other schools that don’t necessarily enjoy the sterling reputation?

Well for starters, you could burn those other schools to the ground. If doing a 6 to 10 stretch doesn’t work for your career plan, then perhaps getting your name out there before you meet the firms will help.

That’s exactly what the University of Tampa’s Beta Alpha Psi chapter is doing for their members – posting their photo, bio, résumés and email address to allow firms to get to know candidates prior to meeting on campus.


So far the feedback has been positive, including some from KPMG that was included in the chapter’s press release:

“It was a great resource for us to be able to recall the individuals that we had the opportunity to meet, and then easily review their goals and current status, and then further review their resumes. It allowed us to obtain quick and accurate information on those we met.”

Perusing around some of the other chapters like Texas, Notre Dame and BYU it’s pretty obvious that U. Tampa’s site is more interactive and easier to navigate. Plus, if you’re participating in the recruiting in the process for your firm, it’s a great way to prepare to meet recruits as opposed to the standard awkward small talk.

Kudos to U. Tampa BAP for getting their members names and faces out there. Hopefully other chapters will follow their example to engage more effectively with the firms in their cities and regions to assist members as they go through the recruiting process.

UT BAP Spotlight

PwC Reject Wants to Know If Making Another Run at the Firm Is a Good Idea

Welcome to the Hump Day edition of Accounting Career Couch (or as Adrienne puts it, “advice from a bunch of asshole accountants”). Today we have a PwC reject who is going back for round two. Does previous rejection mean that P. Dubs has its mind up about how big of a loser you are? Maybe!

Feeling rejected and looking job soon? Unhappy at your current firm who doesn’t provide any training to turn the frown upside down? Need some advice on to get your co-workers to loosen up? Email us at advice@goingconcern.com and we’ll make everyone happy.

Returning to our glutton for punishment:

Dear Going Concern:

I interviewed earlier this year for a full time tax position with PwC. I made it to the final round and was given an office tour, lunch, 3 interviews and all that good stuff. Unfortunately, I did not receive an offer.

It is now the fall on campus recruiting season and again I am applying for a full time tax position with PwC. The lead recruiter already knows me from the recruiting process earlier this year. I’ve managed to speak with him once already at an on campus event and will see him at a career fair again next week. My question is can the fact that I’ve been rejected earlier this year hurt me in my attempt to get another interview and hopefully a full time offer. I plan on asking the recruiter this question next week but I get the feeling he will tell me that it’s okay and it won’t hurt me in anyway. However, being the cynical and skeptical person that I am, I need some perspective.

Dear Cynical and Skeptical,

Dealing with rejection, eh? Lots of that going around today. Unlike the Democrats, you have done nothing wrong. You made it to the very end and you simply didn’t make the cut. That happens. However, you are taking it in stride (not cursing PwC, blamestorming, etc.) although you are carrying the standard neurosis that comes with said rejection.

Your previous rejection by PwC should not dissuade you from your chances at a job with the firm. For whatever reason unbeknownst to you, the firm passed you over. It’s likely that it was a difficult decision on their part and your interest in the firm will be seen as a positive.

We understand that somewhere in your head, you’re thinking that the firm was just toying with you. Stringing you along, only to crush your Big 4 dreams at the last minute. The only scenario we can foresee where this would be a reality is if a recruiter/partner had the hots for you and eventually their belief in your “talents” were overruled. Fortunately, the odds of this being reality are slim.

So make another run at P. Dubs, reiterating your interest in the firm, reminding them why you’ll be a kick-ass associate and what you’ve done in the last few months that will get them hot for you all over again. Taking the “You made a biggest mistake of your life” is probably not the way to go, but a subtle hint at why you are everything they want and more may get them to see the error of their ways.

Big 4 Recruit Needs Advice on Table Manners, Office Visits

Today in “I need advice from strange accountants and Going Concern trolls,” a Big 4 recruit needs some insight into the office visit and how to behave when breaking bread with Big 4 professionals.

Need to know what to expect for your first busy season? Looking for pointers on how to subtly attract your rival’s employees? Want ideas that aren’t über-lame for your team’s next happy hour? Email us at advice@goingconcern.com and we’ll put our heads together like the Stooges.

Back to our aspiring Big 4 rube (KIDDING, we know some of you are sensitive):

What should I expect at an office visit for the Big 4? Also, how do I behave at a dinner or lunch?


Simple enough. The Big 4 office visit is standard operating procedure in the recruiting process and we asked our resident Kool-Aid™ mixer, DWB to give his take on these show and tell excursions:

I apologize in advance if my answer comes off as salty; someone must have spit in my Cheerios this morning. But really – what kind of question is this? I’ll remind everyone about my rant the other day about providing Caleb with greater details when submitting questions. So with that, I have some questions for you – are you a college recruit? What practice? What office? Is this a one-off tour or is it part of an official recruiting program?

Because your submitted question was useless, I will make the assumption that you’re going on an official visit. Expect a tour, an interview (I hope – why else would you be going?), and the normal HR run-around of work-life balance, salary growth, etc. I advise you to talk to as many individuals as possible – on the record, off the record, etc. Get business cards, and follow up with questions you might have later. NETWORK your ass off. The people you meet in the “casual” settings have just as much of an influence on whether you receive an offer as your interviewer does.

Well, the bad accountant angle is obviously out, so regarding your behavior at chowtime, some good rules of thumb:

1) No booze. We realize this sucks but you don’t get bonus points for being able to hold your liquor.

2) CHEW WITH YOUR MOUTH CLOSED.

3) Don’t be too chatty or too quiet. Nobody likes someone who talks without breathing throughout the entire meal but you will be noticed if you say nothing.

4) Topics of conversation to avoid: recent campus ragers; office visits that you’ve gone to at other firms; negative news about the firm you’re currently visiting; the hot server’s physical attributes.

These are just a few but in general, if you have to ask yourself, “could this make things awkward?” then avoid the behavior. If that doesn’t clear things up then ask Emily Post.

If we’re way off base here or anything crucial is missing, let us know in the comments.

Jim Quigley Believes That ‘A Sustained Recovery Has Begun’

That’s what he told Fox Business Network anyway. He doesn’t stat it explicitly but Quigs is probably referring to his Big 4 and professional services brethren.


Not exactly sure why JQ thinks we aren’t headed for a double-dip after Team Jehovah gave the ‘fairly bad’ to ‘very bad’ outlook.

Is he still riding high on the biggest of the Big 4 news? Discuss.

Deloitte Adding 11.5k New U.S. Employees in FY11; 5k Campus Hires

FINS has more details on Deloitte’s hiring bonanza, reporting yesterday that the firm will add 11,500 new U.S. employees during fiscal year 2011.

The company expects to hire 11,500 in the country, which includes 5,000 campus hires. The U.S. numbers are part of the more-than 40,000 hires the company anticipates in FY 2011, said Patty Pogemiller, national director of talent acquisition.

The company is hiring across all of its major businesses in the U.S., particularly in its financial services industries. According to Pogemiller, the company is looking for candidates with “superior analytical and problem-solving skills” as well as and team-building abilities.

The breakdown of “hiring across all of its major businesses” remains unclear, although since the consulting business is going gangbusters while audit, tax and advisory are more or less flat, you could reason that the demand for consultants would be be on the rise. Assuming normal (or abnormal) attrition, the other business lines will still have their typical demand for fresh faces but a source close to Deloitte indicated to us that if the hot pace of the consulting biz continues, it could easily outpace the rest of the firm’s services.

Our source also indicated that the recruiting levels of 11,500/5,000 is consistent with those the firm had in the pre-financial crisis years of 2007-2009, which could mean the firm’s demand for new people has normalized.

Deloitte Will Hire 11,500 in the U.S. in FY 2011 [FINS]

How Do I Get into a Big 4 Tax Specialty Group Without a ‘Preferred’ Degree?

Today in “fish my career out of the crapper,” a recent grad has started a masters program hoping to get into a speciality tax practice with a Big 4 firm. However, the reader is concerned that their program won’t be attractive the speciality groups. HELP!!

Have a question about your career? Worried that your porn star spouse might derail your path to partner? Need advice on broaching the subject of the shitty coffee in your office? Email us at advice@goingconcern.com and we’ll be sure that you get the help you need.

Back to our accountant-to-be in jeopardy:

I graduated from undergrad with a degree in accounting in April of this year and immediately began a masters of accountancy program in the Boston area. I did not have an internship since I chose to study abroad instead. I am fluent in Korean, and am interested in tax issues encountered by expatriates and multinational corporations. I am also interested in valuations for M&A. I have wanted to work in a Big 4 or other large accounting firm in the business advisory or tax divisions. However, looking at the job requirements for the positions in these two divisions, the firms prefer students with degrees in economics, finance, taxation, and even JDs and LLMs. My program, on the other hand, is more of a general accounting program geared towards auditing and preparing students for the CPA exam. So, my question is, “how can I get a job in tax or advisory–preferably dealing with tax issues–without experience or a ‘preferred’ degree?” The simple answer would be to just apply and point out the interests that I have, but would this accomplish anything more than alienating myself from potential employers and positions in assurance that could get me in the door and eventually onto the career path that I desire?


While your advanced degree will help your chances with the Big 4, we are wondering why you didn’t go with a program that would have allowed you to pursue a tax concentration, since that is your primary interest.

But never mind that, the issue at hand is how you get into these specialty groups without experience or a preferred degree. The answer is: it will be tough. You do have the advantage of being bilingual which will be extremely attractive, especially for any international speciality groups. If you can land a tax position, leverage this strength and communicate your interest in areas of expats and multinational issues. If you’re feeling really ambitious and learning a new language is easy for you, consider picking up a little Mandarin or Japanese to give you an even bigger advantage over your peers.

That may sound crazy but it will make you stand out from other people competing for these sexier jobs in specialty tax and advisory and like you said, if you just have a plain-Jane Masters and not the ideal background, you’ll need to make yourself stand out somehow. These groups are small and they don’t take on many new hires and yes, they do prefer people with the degrees you mentioned.

You also ask, “would this accomplish anything more than alienating myself from potential employers and positions in assurance that could get me in the door[?]” Again, if you’re interested in tax, why are you thinking about interviewing for audit positions? It will make your path to the speciality groups longer and even more difficult. Only pursue this if it’s the last resort.

Get into the tax practice if you can and go from there; your interest in international groups will seem less self-serving. You’ll probably have to do some time in compliance but that will serve as a good foundation for your career goals.

Do The Big 4 Use Intermediate Accounting as a ‘Weed-Out’ Course?

Back from the meat sweat-infused Labor(less?) Day Weekend with the latest edition of “help me get my career out of the crapper,” a young accounting student is concerned that their “C” in Intermediate Accounting will derail their Big 4 dreams of fame and fortune.

Have a question about your career? Need advice on how to handle the client contact who just happens to be a complete lunatic? Undecided on whether or not you should eat the frozen pizza that isn’t yours when you’re working at 1 am? Email us at advice@goingconcern.com and we’ll get you back on the crooked and wide.

Back to our latest gradeobsessed recruit:

I’m currently a Senior at ASU, graduating in May 2011 and plan on enrolling in the MTAX program at ASU that Fall. I currently have a 3.52 G.P.A., but ended up with a C in Intermediate Financial Accounting (For the record, I took an accelerated 5-week course and was also working full-time). I have heard that many firms (mostly Big 4) use this course as a “weed out” of candidates. I have maintained all A’s in my other accounting courses but am worried that this C will turn off recruiters. If I plan on going into Tax, will this pose a problem? Any recommendations to counter potential problems?


Here’s the deal with grades people – they shouldn’t be a dealbreaker. There are tons of fine candidates out there who weren’t as naturally talented in the academic sense of double-entry accounting but have a lot more intangibles to offer.

Unfortunately, the current reality is that most Big 4 partners and those in recruiting are of the mindset that looking at a candidate’s grades is most efficient way to identify the best candidates. Is that bullshit? In the editor’s opinion, yes. Do you have to deal with it, anyway? Yes. Is impossible to have a low-ish GPA (between 3.0 – 3.5) and still land a gig with Big 4? No, but be prepared to sell hard why your lower GPA isn’t an issue.

In this case, while the “C” in Intermediate Accounting may rise an eyebrow or a brief mention from someone on the recruiting team, it is not the ‘weed out’ course that you are picturing in your head. Your 3.52 GPA is good enough that the Big 4 will give you a serious look and if you received “A” grades in your other classes, the “C” will look like an outlier that a partner may ask you about briefly, “What happened there?” in an attempt to be funny. You’ll give him/her the story and that will likely be the end of it.

Plus, since it sounds like you’re most interested in joining a Tax Practice, this shouldn’t be an issue at all. They’ll look at your Grad School grades and the classes you took in the program to decide where you’ll best fit into their practice. They likely won’t give your “C” in Intermediate a second look.

Can You Get a Big 4 Job If You Didn’t Go to a “Brand Name” College?

Today we hear from a Big 4 dreamer and their frustration with the firms’ penchant for “brand name schools,” and what, if anything, you can do about it.

Have a question about your career? An inter-office love triangle? How to interpret the partner’s passive-aggressiveness attitude? Email us your query to advice@goingconcern.com and we’ll level with you.

Back to our reader:

I can’t tell you how frustrating it is to go onto the Deloitte Job Board and see positions with schools next to them, indicating the spot is only for a graduate of Notre Dame or some other brand name school. I turned down Notre Dame to go to a small liberal arts school in Chicago and now I have no idea how to get into the recruiting cycle for the Big 4 or regional public accounting firms. There were no accounting firms at the job fairs or on-campus interviews held at my school.

I graduated cum laude last December (a semester early and with my 150 credit hours). Desperate not to move back home, I took a private accounting job, but it didn’t work out and for personal reasons I moved up to Wisconsin. Now I am studying for the CPA and searching for a job. My question: how can I get in on this recruiting season? Is there even a way?

Unfortunately, this is just the way it is for public accounting firms. Unless an influential partner has a personal connection to a small school (Alma Mater, children are students there, etc), they are typically overlooked. The factory-like recruiting machines that are public accounting firms look for the same attribute in their target schools; where can they get the most bang (candidates) for their buck. If you think about it, it makes sense:

Recruit at Notre Dame – meet 100 qualified accounting students
Recruit at small liberal arts school – meet 15 qualified accounting students

Of the 1-2 students a firm would hire out of the small school, those numbers can be made up at the larger universities. This saves on expenses (travel, lodging, premiums, etc). Dollars and sense.

All that said, the issue is not that you’re from a small school, it’s that you’re now graduated and part of the workforce. Being a recent gradutate is more difficult; you’re not part of the campus recruiting scope and you’re too green to fit the typical experienced hire mold.

The best thing you can do is reach out to the firms directly. Use your network to find out who the HR contact is in the city where you live or want to live and call or email them. The most crucial thing with recruiters is getting them to know your name and face.

You’re cum laude so they’ll like that and if you are legitimately interested in the firm, they will take an interest in you. It will take some footwork on your part but it can be done.

Will the Big 4 Take a “Late Bloomer” with a Low Undergrad GPA?

Today from the mailbag we have a Big 4 hopeful that – like many of you – enjoyed the splendors of undergrad life to the detriment of their GPA and want to know if this will dash their Big 4 hopes and dreams.

If you’ve got questions about your career, a problem at work (romantic, political or otherwise) or what you should have for lunch, shoot us an email at advice@goingconcern.com. We will ignore pension accounting questions with extreme prejudice.

Back to our friend:

I just started an MSA program this summer after graduating with a BA in Economics. My cumulative undergrad GPA was 2.78, which is certainly not helping me attain my goal of Big 4 employment. I’ve been told that talking to recruiters now would be certain career death and I’m hoping on using the “late bloomer” story whenever I do begin the recruiting process. I can honestly say my attitude towards academics has improved tremendously over the past year or so. In the two graduate summer classes I’ve taken so far, I’m pulling a 3.85 GPA.

My question is, how long will it take for my improved academic performance to become substantial evidence of my matured academic attitude? Should I hold off on fall recruiting? Go for an internship instead of FT? Any advice would be greatly appreciated.

While a 2.78 isn’t the end of the world, you are correct in your thinking that most Big 4 recruiters will turn their nose up at you. That being said, talking to recruiters is not “certain career death.” Quite the opposite, in fact. The more face time you get with these Big 4 types, the more they will remember you. Your “late bloomer” story certainly holds water now but you admit that you’ve only taken two classes. If you can maintain the GPA, then great, you’ll be in good shape. And yes, recruiters will see this is as a positive direction. If you revert to your keg standing ways (some people never get over it) then hopefully your guessing skills on exams have gotten better.

In the meantime, here are a couple of things you can do to hopefully marginalize that 2.78:

List your summer course GPA on your resume – leave the undergrad GPA off, but be honest if and when you’re asked about it.
Major GPA vs. Cumulative GPA – We’re assuming the 2.78 is your overall, or cumulative, GPA. Calculate your major-specific GPA (the classes that differentiate you from another business degree) – if it is above a 3.0, list it on your resume.

The problem with your situation, Late Bloomer, is that you don’t know what the thought process of the Big 4 recruiters, employees and partners that you meet are. Some of them may love you and others will take one look at your undergrad GPA and will respond not with “no” but “hell no.” Typically when a recruiting team is split on a candidate, the hierarchy trumps and if you didn’t impress the pants off that partner, you’ll be out.

Considering all that, you should absolutely attend the fall recruiting events and meet as many different firms and make as many contacts as possible. Also, be realistic with them – it’s okay to admit that you faltered a bit during your undergrad – just know that you’re going to have to prove it to them in the long run that you can keep things on the up and up.

Whether or not you should go for an internship or FT is your call. Will you be graduating in spring or summer of ’11? Then going for full time is probably the best move, regardless of the not-so-stellar undergrad GPA. If your MSA program can be stretched out, go for the internship. Even if you don’t get it, you’ll make plenty of contacts in the Big 4 so that when recruiting comes around for next year, you’ll be a familiar face and the recruiters will get a sense that you’re committed to academics and that you are a solid candidate for their firm.

Big 4 Careers: Can I Get into the Tax Practice?

From the mailbag, we have a young lad who is about to go through his first recruiting season looking to land a Big 4 position. He requested that he got some advice from those of you in the biz and that have been through the process.

If you have questions about your career, recruiting, choosing a firm a problem/challenge at work (wonky technical questions will be ignored) or whathaveyou, send us an email at advice@goingconcern.com. In the meantime, let’s oblige this young man.

The details:

I need help (advice from professionals) deciding whether I should apply for tax jobs, or audit/assurance jobs. I want to work for one of the Big 4 firms, but I know that may be lofty since I didn’t necessaril path to a career in accounting. Below is a brief narrative so that you may better understand my experience and qualifications

I am a senior at the University of Memphis (Memphis, TN) and will be graduating with a BBA in Accountancy in December 2010. I work full-time during the day to provide for my family and I attend classes at night. I work for a small bank opening new accounts, but accounting is the field I would like to have a career in. I am 24, so not much older than many of my accounting peers, and this is my first degree. I currently have an overall GPA of 3.35 and a major GPA of 3.89. I am the VP of Development for my Beta Alpha Psi chapter, and I have attended BDO’s 2009 Pathway to Success Program. Due to a change of major from Biology to Accountancy several years ago, I will have 156 credit hours when I graduate in December. I have enrolled in a Becker course beginning later this month, and plan to complete three parts of the CPA exam in the final window of 2010 and the fourth in the first window of 2011. Firms are now posting staff positions and internships on the career and employment website at my university. The time has come for me to go through my first recruiting season, and I am experiencing some anxiety.

As I mentioned earlier I am really interested in the tax specialty, but I am most interested in working for a public accounting firm. I have been told by several people in academia that a masters is necessary for tax staff, and about 90% of the entry level tax staff positions are filled with individuals who have had at least one internship. I must delay my advanced degree for a few years since I am out of cash and do not want to incur debt via student loans. I have hopes, though, that having at least some portion of the CPA exam passed will give me a leg up in the battle for staff positions at accounting firms. Also, an internship is not really an option at the current time, unless it is absolutely necessary.

I would like to know if someone with my education and experience would even be considered for a full-time tax staff position at a Big4 firm. Should I apply and hopefully interview for tax staff positions? Should I focus my attention on landing an audit/assurance staff position? Big time public accounting is where I want to be, and I know I have what it takes to make it there.

I hope you can publish my question, and ask for feedback/comments from professionals that work at big 4, regional, and local firms.

Okay, so lots of “interests” to wade through here. Let’s break these down. You say, “I am really interested in the tax specialty, but I am most interested in working for a public accounting firm,” but then you also say that you want to work for a Big 4 firm.

Depending on how you rank the importance of these three goals, that should give you the answer to your dilemma.

Let’s say working at a Big 4 firm is the end all to be all for you. You might have an easier time getting in by taking a job in the audit practice. A market like Memphis won’t be hiring too many tax professionals and it is likely that they will have advanced degrees. If there are tax positions available, by all means apply and interview for them. To answer your question, a Big 4 firm interviewing for tax positions will probably listen to what your interests and career goals are but you might not fit their ideal candidate criteria.

To address a couple other of your issues – having portions of the CPA may help you but is by no means is it a huge advantage. Also, if putting off an internship is what works best for you, then understand that will put you at disadvantage to those that have had them, especially since the Big 4 is making full-time offers primarily to their interns.

However, your GPA, work experience and BAP involvement are all good things so chances are, a Big 4 audit practice will give you a serious look as long as you interview well.

If you land the gig, you could do some time in audit and then explore some rotational opportunities a couple of years down the road, although again, those are probably extremely limited in a small market like Memphis.

On the other hand, if you are truly interested in working in a tax practice, it might easier to go with a regional or local firm to get the work experience you want. Since it sounds like you’re a good candidate, you can be selective about who you ultimately choose and what areas of tax you want to work in. Once you have a few years of experience and you still want to work for a Big 4 firm, it might be easier to get into their tax practice.

For the rest of you out there, dispense with your experiences and advice. Does he have a chance at tax? With Big 4? Should he just give it all up and join the Peace Corps? Help him out.

Experienced Recruiting Amongst The Big 4 Gets Aggressive

As you know the Big 4 are extremely competitive when it comes to picking up talent. Now that the firms have amped up their experienced hiring, things appear to be taking an interesting turn.

Case in point, the following email went out to PwC professionals in the Southeast:

Hello. I work for Ernst & Young’s Assurance Recruiting Team and, through my networking, came across your name. I was wondering if you would be interested in making contact for professional networking purposes.

We are currently seeking managers and senior managers in our Southeastern markets. Your referrals would be greatly appreciated as you know the best people in this industry! We are expanding our Assurance Experienced talent pool and look forward to hiring only the best and brightest talent!

There are twelve more reasons to consider EY as a strong career option!! Ernst & Young was just named to FORTUNE’s “100 Best Companies to Work For” list for the 12th year in a row–and ranked highest among the global professional services organizations. The reason? Our people. Together, we’ve created a culture of learning, flexibility, inclusiveness and community responsibility that truly makes a difference.

I have been a finance/accounting recruiter for six years and assure you that not all Big 4 firms are cut from the same cloth……it never hurts to have a dialogue!!!

Thanks in advance for your time and consideration. Have a wonderful summer!

Say what you want about these particular tactics but if there is a need in a particular office or region, it is Big 4 recruiters’ job to go out and find the talent to fill that demand. Other Big 4 firms seem like a pretty good place to start since they have the “talent” that the firms want. Plus, the email does state that the intent of the message is to “open a dialogue” which, sure, could lead to someone switching firms but let’s be real – this happens.

And don’t forget! This isn’t confined to Dixieland. You may recall that PwC in the UK had been allegedly poaching E&Y partners, as reported by the Times Online.

So if you want to get all defensive about a rival firm going behind enemy lines to do their jobs, so be it, but your firm is likely doing the exact same thing.

Earlier:
Grant Thornton Picks Up Four Tax-Exempt Experts from WTAS

Big 4 Rotations: Great Career Opportunity or Recruiting Gimmick?

We touched on international rotations yesterday, albeit one that probably would be provide more risk than most accountants are comfortable taking.

That being said, rotations – either to another practice, office or international – can be a way to re-energize your career if you’re feeling stagnant or a simple distraction from the distinct possibility that you don’t like your job. We’ll discuss all three of these possibilities and then open it up for discussion:

International Rotations – Offering international rotations is an excellent recruiting tools for the firms that offer them (primarily Big 4) and most people that work in firms that offer them would state that they are “an extremely rewarding experience,” whether or not they’ve actually experienced one. It’s one of the cliché message that firms put out without mentioning the fact that the politics of negotiating one can be tricky. All that being said, those lucky few that do experience them rave about their experiences (for the most part, there are some that just can’t be pleased) on both a personal and professional level.


Domestic Rotations – Again, firms market these as opportunities for those that are interested in them. There are less politics involved in the domestic versions although a particular office may have to demonstrate a need before it would be approved. A slight twist on these the domestic “rotation” is an unsolicited one, where one office has a desperate need for warm bodies and your firm offers you up to spend a significant length of time (e.g. two to three months up to a year or more) working in a different office.

Practice Rotations – You’re sick of auditing/tax/advisory. One day the idea of a rotation to a new service line or to a support department (e.g. HR) comes along and you jump at it because, well, you’re bored out of your mind. This can be a great opportunity to do something completely different which could be the start of a new career path. Or it could be your firm filling its need for grunts in a practice that is short-handed.

From a recent thread on staying or leaving public accounting, commenter Guest had this to say regarding internal rotations.

Internal rotations are also BS. They are generally looking for cheap labor to bridge them in times of need. Most people don’t get asked to stay on, in which case your peers that stayed in audit may have a leg up. If you do get asked to stay, you will be behind your advisory/tax peers since you didn’t start with them.

So it’s a bit of a mixed bag out there. On the one hand, landing one of these rotations is the first step and then you have to consider the repercussions of leaving an office/practice for a length of time. If you’ve got personal experience with any of these, discuss below for the wishers and dreamers out there mulling rotations.

The Big 4 Continue to Impress College Students, Dominate Latest Universum List

It’s been far too long since we had a Big 4 dominated list to share with you. The last that we can dig up was PwC’s three-peat for Training 125. We were starting to get the shakes…

Thankfully the drought has ended with the latest list from Universum, who we last hear from in the fall with their 50 Most Attractive Employers.

This time around, it’s the Top 100 IDEAL Employers, that is described as “annual employer image survey…based on more than 163,246 employer evaluations, reflecting the opinions of approximately 56,900 Undergraduate students.” In the “Business” field of study, the Big 4 have, once again, landed high on the list:


Ernst & Young – #2
PricewaterhouseCoopers – #3
Deloitte – #4
KPMG – #6

Big 4 domination on a college student list is nothing new. Their recruiting strategy is aggressive and any company getting bested by Google in anything is exactly a surprise. Some other notables:

FBI – #11
IRS – #23 (IRS 2, Sarah Palin 0)
Grant Thornton – #30
Accenture – #66

Frankly, the number beside the firm name is irrelevant. The firms will boast the latest ranking in press releases and on campus visits per standard operating procedure. This continues to demonstrate that the firms are impressing college recruits effectively. They are presenting the image they want to present and they are doing so with an ever increasing online presence. We will continue to see them high on these lists.

The Universum American Student Survey [Universum]
Universum USA Presents the 2010 Top IDEAL Employers [Press Release]

Ernst & Young Needs You to Beg Your Friends to Work at Ernst & Young

Maybe beg is a stretch but the Banking & Capital Markets (they had non-Lehman Brothers clients, you know) practice needs more people ASAP.


The following email is from a partner in the FSO practice requesting recipients to get three to five of their friends to drop whatever they’re doing and join Uncle Ernie’s Army:

Hello Everyone,

Please review the following notice regarding Employee Referrals. The success of our Banking & Capital Markets practice is dependent upon the quality of our people and our ability to grow. In order to reach the goals we have put forth this year, we will need to significantly grow the size of our Practice. A key driver to that growth is Employee Referrals. I would like each person in the practice, from Staff through Partner/Principal, to come up with 3 to 5 qualified referrals who you believe would be strong additions to our practice and help contribute to our growth and success. In addition to submitting them through the Employee Referral Program website, please send the candidate’s name, contact information, resume (if you have available) to our Recruiter, [redacted].

Thank you very much for all of your help and hard work!

Does anyone that just finished up busy season even have 3 to 5 friends/acquaintances outside the firm? Anyone that was your friend prior to the beginning of the year probably assumed that you’re dead.

Anyway, here’s the original plea for Ernsters to play recruiter that includes a nice little bonus if your friend/acquaintance/frenemy makes the cut:

Your help wanted to fill critical job openings within the FSO Assurance Practice
Employee Referral Program

The Employee Referral Program encourages and generously rewards you for recommending great people to Ernst & Young. Over and above the monetary awards, we believe the ultimate satisfaction of making a referral comes from the very real difference you can make for your friends, as well as for Ernst & Young. Here’s a great opportunity for you to help a friend or acquaintance, Ernst & Young and yourself — all at the same time!

The Assurance – Banking & Capital Markets practice is looking to immediately fill positions (Experienced Staff and Seniors) in the areas listed below. You could receive a generous referral bonus (up to $7,500!) by suggesting someone you know who you think would be a good candidate and a great EY team member. All referral bonus award information is listed on the EY Employee Referral Program website below.

Banking & Capital Markets (New York, Boston, Stamford)
Asset Management (New York, Boston, Stamford)
Insurance (New York, Boston)
On-Call Advisory/FAAS (New York) *openings at Senior and Manager levels

To make a referral for one of these positions, please visit the EY Employee Referral Program website at http://chs.ey.net/Referral.

Through the referral program, you make can make a real difference for someone you know, for Ernst & Young and for you. We know for a fact that our very best hires are referred to us by our current people. So, please think about who you know that might make a great addition to our team.

Whether this means that the markets mentioned will avoid layoffs this summer remains to be seen. Happy hunting.

Decoding the Latest KPMG HR Talking Points

FINS published an interview with Bruce Pfau, KPMG’s vice chair of Human Resources, on Monday, with the topics ranging from, “getting a foot in the door, poaching amongst the Big Four, the firm’s push into environmental advice and its goal to capture the best and brightest on U.S. college campuses.”

You can read the entire interview here, but good luck understanding the HR-code served by Pfau. Calm your fears, you don’t need a Ouija board in order to understand the current state of the KPMG Kamp. Below is my best attempt to translate Bruce.

Kyle Stock: Can you provide a geneent hiring?
Bruce Pfau: Each year we hire a couple of thousand people from [college] campuses into our audit, tax and advisory practices. In addition to full-time people, we’re also hiring interns.

We’re also very focused on making sure that we’re keeping an eye on creating a diverse workforce compliment.

DWB – Yes, we’re still hiring. But hell, we have to. We’ve committed to interns and fulltime hires going forward multiple years. Remember when the bottom fell out in late 2008? Yeah, we already had 2010 kids signed up. Also, non-English speaking professionals help out with our diversity statistics; even H.R. has numbers targets. Have fun in that client meeting!

KS: It seems that some of these concentrations would favor certain geographies, are there any specific parts of the country where the firm is growing?
BP: You can pretty much gather from some of the areas of focus that there will be some geographic concentration. We have a gigantic financial footprint in New York, but that doesn’t mean we’re not hiring financial folks on the West coast as well. And we’re obviously beefing up in developing countries — in China, Southeast Asia, India.

DWB – Yes, I used the word “gigantic” to officially describe our position. PS – if you’re not in the gigantic New York market or the west coast, you’re dead weight. Expect cuts or consolidations in offices. Conversely, thank you to our folks in the Big Apple and the Silicon Valley for keeping our pants on these past 18-24 months. Your free Phil hat is in the mail.

KS: KPMG also recently hired the United Nations’ chief climate change expert, Yvo De Boer. Can we expect the firm to offer more environmental advice?
BP: We’re looking to expand our footprint in that area, not only in the standpoint of the firm’s commitment to being a good corporate citizen environmentally and having our own green efforts, but also to try to utilize some of his capabilities, knowledge and relationships to expand our business and gain higher visibility in that space globally — areas like carbon evaluation and emissions trading.

DWB – We finally moved away from paper audits, didn’t we?

KS: You recently hired a new partner in charge of campus recruiting, Stacy Sturgeon. Is the firm taking any new directions there?
BP: I don’t expect to see any major changes in our approach there. We’ve spent the last several years taking campus recruiting to a new level. We’ve redoubled our relationships there and did a variety of things to make sure that our message is getting across to the best and brightest students.

DWB – Hell no, we ain’t changing a thing. There will always be a slew of helicopter parents shoving their over-achieving children into an accounting career. Our traps are set. Fish. In. Barrels.

KS: Do you engage in recruiting via social media and has it proved to be valuable?
BP: Yes. Obviously, [we use] the electronic job-boards and things of that nature. The Facebook-type forums we’re obviously participating in as well, though I cannot say it has transformed our hiring at that level. It’s more of an incremental difference. Our hiring at the more junior level really has a lot to do with sustained relationships with students. Huge percentages of the people that we bring in from campus have done an interview with us. That’s the best social interaction that we can have [with them].

We believe that we’re a great place to build a career.

DWB – we always have and always will scour the Monster.com’s of the world for tax and advisory talent. Audit is a lost cause. I don’t have a freakin’ clue about Facebook. My kids are on it. Our first year associates swear by it. Some of our managers think it’s suave to “friend” their staff. But just like everyone else in the universe, no here has figured out how to profit it from the networking site.

But newsflash – we interview kids on campus, not on Facebook. Most of them, that is. There’s a select group that have parents at important clients that we let into the KPMG Kamp for free. And do you like that last line about building a career? Yeah, I’m paid to say that.

KS: You mentioned culture, how is KPMG’s culture different from the other three of the Big Four?
BP: Our cultures are way more similar than they are different.

I strongly believe that we face the same challenges, we recruit the same kinds of individuals, we’re in the same business — there’s a lot that’s similar. Where we differ is in a few areas.

First, although all of the firms have a good record in this, I truly believe that our firm has a remarkable culture of corporate social responsibility and volunteerism. I think that that’s something that really is a little bit different at KPMG. I literally could go on and on about how our people have risen to the occasion in that area.

The second thing is the whole area of continuous learning and development. We want to differentiate ourselves as being a great place to build a career.

DWB – We’re all accountants; how different can we be? In terms of volunteerism, what other accounting firm stuffed bears instead of getting blitzed on light beers and chardonnay? That’s what I thought. Build a bear, build a career (I said it again!). Come on, this was a brilliant idea.

A brilliant idea that us partners are still paying for. $*%@.

Newsflash: Accounting Candidates Are Stalked

In what should come as no surprise, social media and its effect on the job market continues to be a conversational presser. The topic is often discussed by nobodies (like myself) in online environments like Twitter and blogs (here’s looking at you, GC), but as the topic shifts from the Wild West of the Internet blog-o-sphere and into dinner conversation circles, CNN is jumping on the topic.

CNN’s article expanded on a recent study by Microsoft that “found that 79 percent of United States hiring managers and job recruiters surveyed reviewed online information about job applicants. In fact, 70 percent of United States hiring managers in the study say they have rejected candidates based on what they found.”


You read that correctly – 79 percent of recruiters and hiring managers Google stalk their candidates. If this was a toothpaste study, that’d be 4 out of 5 dentists. Convincing, right?

As busy season winds down and the itch to test the job market becomes irresistible, what should you do? Many of the people interviewed in CNN’s piece changed their Facebook profile names to be something other than their first and last names. This is all fine and dandy except for the fact that profiles can still be searched by email address, employer and school networks, and geographical location. So yeah, switching your name from Jay Smith to Jay Tizzy is great until your recruiter types the email address on top of your resume into Facebook and finds your page.

What should you do? I covered the importance of Facebook etiquette a few weeks back (refresher can be found here), and I can’t stress how important it is to take advantage of their privacy settings. Once you set them accordingly you should test them out yourself. Log out of Facebook, Google yourself, and click on the search result that is for your public profile. What you’re able to see this way is exactly what your recruiter or potential new boss is limited to.

Pictures of last weekend’s rager? Probably not a good idea. Tighten up your security settings until you’re satisfied with how you’re represented online.

Are the Edgy Efforts Really Necessary for Recruiting Accountants?

PwC’s Branding Week taught us nothing we didn’t already know.

So as you may recall, PwC launched its massive PR campaign two weeks ago, wrapped up in super-PR spin in this clip from ABC news:


Even if you sat earnestly with pen in hand, I doubt you had any significant takeaways from the video. “Networking starts with the people you know.” “Students should be aware of what they post online.” “Careers are a marathon, not a spring.” Really? For a moment I thought networking was accomplished by connecting with complete strangers on LinkedIn. Please.

Don’t forget about Deloitte’s push to join the 21st century, albeit it a few years late. Talk of Facebook pages, Twitter feeds, and YouTube channels, oh my! Come ON. Walk into a campus lecture hall of 100 students and you’ll find 97 of them tapping away on their cell phones. Are they tweeting? Hell no. This generation finds Twitter boring. They need more (as in pictures, tagging, communication channels) than Twitter can offer. Blah.

At the core of it all, are these efforts really necessary? The fundamentals of supply and demand will always make accounting majors one of the top recruiting prizes on college campuses. The major consistently has a top-five placement rate after graduation. Both the accounting firms and the private sector will continue to flourish as hiring grounds.

Then why bother? We all know the profession is sugar coated with promises of worldly travel or volunteer release time; the need for the best and brightest is no secret. That is, in itself, the answer.

Anyone can recruit an accountant, but the best and brightest are chased. Hounded. Stalked. All in the name of tweets.

Deloitte Polishes Its Online Recruiting Presence but Who’s Listening?

A few weeks back I talked about the flashy websites the Big 4 have invested in for recruitment purposes. For those of you DT’ers still wondering where your raises went, the answer is now clear.

Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and a brand new (interactive!) recruitment website. DT is completely revamping their online presence.

Seemingly launched the same week as PricewaterhouseCoopers’ personal branding campaign, DT’s overhaul is much more comprehensive. The Twitter page already boasts 1,500 followers; its unique twist is that employees take turns tweeting about their daily work. Interesting approach, only if you remember to log in to the Twitter page and read the biography of the weekly tweeter.


Deloitte’s YouTube approach is similar to that of KPMG’s established page; clean and consistent website hosting professional videos. One of the videos, entitled “What if your work mattered to the world,” delves, umm, deeply into the importance of cow manure on the job. Taking the term “shitty job” quite literally, I suppose.

Finally, everything is nicely tied together with a flashy site showcasing – shockingly – its youngest and brightest employees. Stories, videos, and links to various DT pages make working for the dot seem downright enjoyable and fun.

The question remains, though – who is this targeting?

From my brief experience on the sites, there’s still no direct way to contact the recruiter responsible for a particular school (PwC boasts the only clear option). There’s no way to ask questions, request feedback, contact the recruiter who’s business card just went through the wash.

This maneuver of hiding behind a flashy website is a running theme for corporate recruiting websites. Why? Why not? The employers hold the cards. The recruiters mailboxes are already overflowing. And if you’re a top student on campus, trust me, the recruiters will find you. So why the website?

See the Joneses out there in front? Yup, better go catch them.

We’re still at a point in the social media world where no one really knows what works best. Facebook has been all the rage for teenagers and young adults, but now that older generations are joining in swarms (i.e. creepy overprotective parents) , there has been a shift of concern among younger users. Twitter is a cluster of a mystery, but the it’s a cluster that everyone (including me) is going along with.

The Big 4 marketing gurus are no different. They know that the recruiters will do the legwork to find the best candidates. They know students will talk to their professors for advice, and listen to their older friends who interned elsewhere.

Perhaps in the end the websites, tweets and cow videos are for the helicopter parents. Seriously. Recruit the parent, recruit the student.

Busy Season Interns: Don’t Waste Their Time

Continuing with the busy season theme, let’s touch on everyone’s favorite coffee jockeys, the interns. This isn’t prime season for interns at accounting firms but we know there are a few lucky (?) teams out there that have an extra set of hands on deck.

Getting serious for two, this time of year, everyone is under pressure to get things done and if you happen to have an intern on your team, they either make your job infinitely easier or they are the bane of your existence. If you fall into the latter category, why is this the case?

It’s pretty easy for you to conclude that the blade of grass tapping you on the shoulder every ten minutes is the person at fault but a lot of times, interns get thrown into bad situations where they end up working for seniors or managers that are so swamped (or helpless) that they can only think about their own workload while there’s a 21 year old that needs something to do (besides looking through menus and making copies).


Since accounting firms put so much effort into recruiting the next wave you’d think that this enthusiasm would spread to teams like the Plague. Unfortch, there are many that see interns as an annoyance during this time of year because, “I have so much work to do and I don’t have time to handhold interns” and we think that’s bullshit.

We’re not saying that there aren’t bad interns out there. And we’re not saying you’re not busy. We know better. But if you gave that intern something meaningful to do instead of whining about how busy you are, they might make your life a speck (or a few) easier.

And interns need hand holding because they’re interns. Don’t forget that up until this point, they’ve been wearing sweats 24/7 and that you used to be just like them. Experienced team members should take this time to utilize them in a meaningful way and not as gofers. If you’re one of those teams that needs a gofer, at least squeeze some meaningful work somewhere so they can learn something and they probably won’t mind the gofering as much.

Yeah, it might take some effort on your part but it’s definitely worth your time to mentor these future associates. If you give them some challenging work now and show them a little bit of appreciation for their efforts, they’ll run through walls for you later.

Signed, Your Friendly Human Resources Professional

HR.jpgEditor’s note: Welcome to the debut post from Daniel Braddock, your friendly Human Resources Professional. He could very well be considered a hypothetical love child of Suze Orman and Toby Flenderson. Following his varsity jacket wearing college days, he entered the consumer markets as an auditor for a Big 4 firm in New York City. He spent three brisk years as an auditor before taking the reins of stirring the HR kool-aid. He currently resides in Manhattan. Daily routines include coffee breakfasts and scotch dinners. You can follow him on Twitter @DWBraddock.
Greetings,
Please let me take a moment to introduce myself.
My name is Daniel W. Braddock, and I was a resourceful human. I was not chargeable. I was not overworked. I stroll in at 9:00am, take a long lunch, and skip out before 6:00pm. You consider me a waste; overhead expense; non-vital to the process. You have me to thank for Summer Friday’s, the crackdown on mentor-ship lunches, and for that blasted Bear Hunt. My degree can be in liberal arts, accounting, or psychology. I was from the world of H.R., or Human Resources Rubbish, as you refer to me.
You generally loathe my kind.


My name is Daniel W. Braddock, and I was on your side once. Stressed, over-utilized and under-charged. I know work/life balance initiatives are as good as the fluffy magazine rankings they earn. I saw first-hand how leadership continously drops the ball on estimates, budgets, and correspondences. I was invited to lush recruiting events, asked to slap on the charm and pretend the ship wasn’t sinking. I’ve been in the trenches, didn’t like what I saw, and left.
My name is Daniel W. Braddock, and I am adaptive. I spent years in the audit practice of a Big Four firm before transitioning my career to the the H.R. side of the house. I have traveled through the looking glass and back. Contributing to GC will shed new light on many topics, including:
Outsourcing, both foreign and domestic
• Hiring forecasts
• The world of recruiting
• Hiring cycles and leadership’s faults
• Work/life balance initiatives and the real “initiative” behind them
• Firm rankings in the media
• The next step – life after the Big 4
I’m looking forward to our future discussions, beginning with a new topic on Thursday. As always, please send suggestions and ideas for topics to tips@goingconcern.com.
Regards,
Daniel W. Braddock
H.R.

PwC Doesn’t Want Anyone That Isn’t Special

Denny keeps it pretty vague but we’re guessing he’s not talking about serving as captain of the Delta Chi beer pong team. If you’ve got other ideas on “special,” discuss in the comments.

[WSJ via FINS]

GC Weekend: How Did You Choose Your Firm?

Thumbnail image for BelushiCollege.jpgRecruitment is still going on in many parts of the country and soon little grasshopper accountants will have to make a decision on where their career will start. Their decisions will be based on many factors, including but not exclusive to:
The obvious
• Benefits
• The people they meet
• Perceived prestige of the firm (or lack thereof)
• Work/life balance
Web CPA has a piece from last week written by an HR service professional that makes the point the better benefits will yield better employees for a firm.


Okay, maybe. As important as benefits packages are, most firms offer competitive packages that won’t serve as a deal-breaker. That still doesn’t stop some partners from boasting about standard options that most companies already have, however.
While we’re not crazy about the idea that benefits serve as the major selling point for employers, it does bring up the interesting question of how you were originally sold on your current (or former) firm?
Regardless of how you feel about your employer now, you were probably excited to start working for said company at some point. If you’ve hated your employer since day one then you seriously need to consider talking to someone. No one put a gun to your head to take the job so what was it that convinced you?
Maybe it was the firm with the coolest schwag? Maybe you were getting the extra-special hustle from a partner. Or maybe you just took what you could get.
Whatever your reasons for jumping on board, discuss them in the comments in order to give the recruits out there some guidance with some non-firm responses. Recruits if you’ve already made a choice, discuss who and why. For the rest of you, if you knew then what you know now, would you make the same choice? Some recruits are still getting the pitch now so let’s give them the straight shit. They’re going to be working for you, after all.

Problem of the Day: Your Staff Makes the Same Money As You (Maybe More)

money.jpgApparently it’s happening, people. With several firms freezing pay for this fiscal year, some already hinting at an additional freeze for fiscal year 2010, and with less fewer offers being made on campus, it’s not outside the realm of possibility that the new associate nearly has the same salary as you.
It goes without saying that this is a contentious issue amongst the staff and it can be made worse if it is known to exist between members of the same team.
If you’ve been busting your ass for the last two to three years and seen very little appreciation in the form of merit increases and suddenly the new associate walks in making virtually the same as you, your motivation may evaporate on all fronts.
From a staff perspective, no new associate, no matter how virtuous will ever ask, “Is that what a senior associate makes? I wouldn’t be comfortable making that much without any experience.” Nice thought but not gonna happen. Firms will claim that they have to keep salaries competitive in order to win the best talent and may even encourage it in order to foster the “competitive environment”.
So discuss how prevalent this is on your team, in your office, or at your firm. Is there any good solution here? We’re talking about money, so there has to be some opinions.

Tax Grads in Colorado Can Get Over PwC Now

pwclogo.thumbnail.jpgLess than thrilling news out of the Denver office of PwC as a source has filled us in the firm’s plans for tax graduate students:
“PwC told tax graduate students at the University of Denver that they werent [sic] hiring again until September 2011.”
We touched on this last month, as campus recruiters have found that their intern pipelines will end up filling their full-time budgets for the following year. We can only assume that students specializing in tax at the other schools that P. Dubs-Denver visits are being told the same thing. If you’ve got news on firms’ hiring expectations at your school, discuss or drop us a line at tips@goingconcern.com.

Recruiting, Week 2 Thread

BelushiCollege.jpgWe hear that both KPMG and Deloitte are on campus this week so we’ll start another thread about these two firms and what they’re bringing to the table, including quality of the social events (which we’ve heard are now alcohol free, please confirm).
If you’re a recruit, let us know what your impressions are and if there are other firms on your campus this week. Are you getting straight answers to your questions or are you getting dodged on pay, number of new hires, etc.
If you’re a recruiter or associate meeting the recruits, what are your impressions? Is anyone showing up in sweats? Are they asking nosy questions about money, layoffs, etc. that result you having to tell half-truths because you’ve got no idea if you’re going to have a job in the next month or two?

Recruiting Season Kicks Off

BelushiCollege.jpgClasses started for a lot of colleges in the past week and it sounds like some firms are already out there spreading their propoganda good word. At least according to one account, the early events have been well attended which fits with the notion that enrollment has remained high.
So if you’re a student, let us know what your early recruiting events have been like and if you’re a recruiter for a firm or a professional working these glad-handing fests, let us know your early impressions about next year’s newbies and interns.