Today's advice column started off with the subject "Accountants with beards." My first thought was "damnnnn that'd make a great Tumblr," one that could rival the creeps at Messages from Match and the political poignancy of Kim Jong-un Looking at Things. WE COULD TAKE OVER THE WORLD. But…then I continued reading.
Wait. This is about an otherwise qualified accounting major not getting a job? Well, that just grinds my gears. Our reader's itchy sitch is detailed below:
To: Going Concern
Subject: Accountants with beards
Big fan of GC, read it every day you guys do the industry a great service in my humble opinion.I graduated from Yeshiva University in NYC in 2011 which, if you're not familiar with, is a college consisting of about 99.9% Jews. I believe I make a decent candidate, I left with a 3.75 GPA, an internship at a real estate firm, I'm a hard-worker, intelligent, good interviewer etc. I'm currently in a joke MBA program to get my 150 credits, doing a p/t bookkeeping job, and trying to finish off the CPA exams in about 6 months. The thing is…I have a beard. Its not a nicely trimmed professional one, but a scraggly hide-the-kids-hide-the-wife one. Why? Because I'm from a Chassidic sect of Jews that doesn't believe in shaving. Ever.I interviewed with 2 out of the big 4 for an internship while an undergrad but never got a second round even though I thought the interviews went well. Maybe I'm paranoid but I feel that the beard is screwing me over in a clean-cut industry. When I start full time interviews in the fall I'm afraid it could be a problem.Your thoughts?
You are right in thinking that the Big 4 are incubators of clean-cut-ness, as we all know it is a conservative industry by default. That said, the atrocious fashion choices (or lack thereof..come on, squared toed shoes?!) of many male associates should be no less damaging to one's candidacy as your beard has been to yours. Meaning, it should be a non-issue. Should be. But it's not, as you have found out first hand. Why? Because human nature is vastly imperfect. It's unfortunate to admit, but you were being judged on your face-value appearance more so than your GPA and earnestness to pass to pass the CPA exam.
So what are my thoughts, you ask? You're up against a lot. You're up against every clean-cut kid who is plug-and-play on any given engagement. You're up against the jelly-spined recruiter that is afraid of putting you in front of a partner or senior manager in a second round interview. You're up against short-sided thinking. For all of the advancements we might make as a society, we are still human and human nature is to stick with what we know is the middle of the fairway. And that sucks.
What you can do? Make it impossible for them to say no. Kill them with kindness, excitement, and a CPA. Make it impossible for them not to consider you. "CPA you ask? BOOM. Two parts down, two to go – your firm won't even have to foot the bill for the Becker course." "Only have openings in Tax? I LOVE Tax." Keep your grades up, continue to stay in touch with your contacts at the Big 4, and start knocking out parts of the CPA exam. I also advise you to reach out to recent alums of your school and see if they have any advice. If not advice, maybe the ability to put in a good word with HR.