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Anyone here know how to get an interview in public accounting firms?

post #1 of 22
Thread Starter 
My wife recently completed her CPA exam, she passed all 4 parts with great scores in about an 8 month period. We have sent her resume out many times (with forwarding to friends in firms) but she hasn't even landed an interview. She graduated in 2008 and we had a baby so she did not get a job straight out of school. I know experiance is a huge factor but i figured passing the exam would count for something. At this point she'd even be willing to intern at a BIG 4 to gain some experiance. She has reached out to her college for help but so far nothing has come through. If anyone here has any useful tips into getting interviews any advice would be greatly appreciated.

Also if anyone here has any influence in a firm and can do anything besides doling out advice feel free to PM me, i would be extremely thankful.
post #2 of 22
My wife works for a large regional public accounting firm and when she was applying a few years ago she was doing so in the late summer/early fall and was hired to start in early December (or January - I cannot remember for sure). She had a bunch of interviews with firms in that time frame and from what I gathered, it seemed like the firms were each hiring quite a few newbies all at once in preparation of the upcoming tax cycle. I have a few close friends who also work at various firms (Big 4 and small local firms as well) and they say that is how it normally works at their firms as well. Now that it's already January, it may be tough going to get an interview since the big annual hiring for the 2011 tax season has probably already been completed. Did your wife go to job fairs at her university? I know when my wife finished grad school and wanted to go to a public accounting firm to get her minimum hours in before she could get her CPA (she had already been working somewhere for a few years but not in public accounting) she went to the job fairs and there were always a bunch of accounting firms present and they were accepting applicants and setting up mass interviews right on the spot. I didn't study accounting or business but when I was in school I remember there always being accounting firms at the job fairs as well even though I wasn't looking for them particularly.
post #3 of 22
Thread Starter 
unfortunately the job fair thing was a big mistake, she had no guidance and her resume looked terrible at that point. as for applying, she's been applying since the summer and has got nothing to show for it.
post #4 of 22
Where are you geographically?
post #5 of 22
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Michigan Planner View Post
Where are you geographically?

nyc, i know the firms are/were hiring lots of newbies esp. PWC
post #6 of 22
I have a hard time believing she can't even get an internship in the Big 4.
post #7 of 22
Former Big4 auditor here.

Big4 recruiting/hiring is so structured, that if you don't go the "traditional" route, you're at a huge disadvantage.

The traditional route being that in your Junior year of college, you apply to intern the following summer and go through that recruiting process....you hopefully get hired as an intern, do well, and receive a full time offer. The other way is to go through the same campus recruiting process your Senior year (if you didn't intern the previous summer) and interview to join as a full-time employee after graduation.

I would say that's how 80-90% of all new-hires join the firms...at least in the bigger cities. The Big4 are in such high competition to get local talent from schools that the best students are identified from as early as Sophomore year.

You stated that experience is important. It is, in fact, the opposite. They don't care about experience, because the only experience that's truly valuable to you in audit/tax/advisory is on the job. They're much more concerned with grades, and whether or not you are a good fit as a person (not everyone is cutout for the job).

As to what steps your wife can take, there are still options, depending on what kind of professional/academic network she has developed. I would contact former professors she has a relationship with, and see if they can put in a good word...a LOT of them have connections to firms and recruiters (the recruiters need to be good with professors so that they direct their best students to their respective firms). If, while at school, she participated in Meet the Firms/Campus Recruiting events and has a relationship with the recruiters, I would contact them directly as well. As I'm sure you know by now, sending a resume into a general KPMG/EY/PWC/Deloitte website is basically gonna get you nowhere, so anything you can do to get the resume on someone's desk who can make a direct decision is much better.

Another option is to explore the non-Big4 mid-tier firms like Moss Adams/BDO/Grant Thornton. For one thing, being a part of a Big4 these days is NOT ALL THAT..especially when it comes to pay and work-life balance. They've managed to convince the world that if you're not Big4, you're not shit....that may still hold some validity, but goddamn if it isn't overrated. As a result of this pseudo-oligopoly on talent, the mid-tier's have to compete a lot of times in different ways to get good people who the Big4 might pass up due to their VERY structured recruiting process.

In either case, I would say that simply sending in a resume and hoping for the best is not a great way to go. Personality and communication skills are so important in public accounting that the people making the decisions need to speak to the candidate before they can even get their foot in the door. I know it sounds silly telling you you need to speak face to face with them when you're asking how you can speak face to to face with them...but that's the nature of the beast.


OH!! I also forgot...at least in LA, the Big4 are hurting bad for people. There have been a ton of departures in the last 6 months (including my own) and they need people. I know my firm has a referral program and so do the other 3 where they will pay an employee a few grand for recommending someone and getting them hired. If your wife has anyone on the inside, tell her to contact them directly...they'd be more than happy to help out a friend and get some $$$ out of it.

Good luck!!
post #8 of 22
Quote:
Originally Posted by taxgenius69 View Post
I have a hard time believing she can't even get an internship in the Big 4.

Big4 won't give an internship to someone who has already graduated. They are given to students in between Jr/Sr year 99.999% of the time.

Her only option is to be hired as a full-time associate.
post #9 of 22
Embowafa is 100% correct, from what I know. My gf just got a job at E&Y and they only recruit auditors on-campus. I'm not sure that even in a market that needs people, like LA, that she'll get another glance. Here's another option: Master's in Accounting. 2nd shot at on-campus recruiting, it is a credential that will be required as of next year (to get the credits necessary to sit for CPA) and it's probably her only way into a firm. It means a year off but, at a solid program, at least a job at a smaller national (BDO, Grant Thornton) or a regional. Baruch in NYC is a great school that feeds into the Big 4.
post #10 of 22
Quote:
Originally Posted by BC2012 View Post
Embowafa is 100% correct, from what I know. My gf just got a job at E&Y and they only recruit auditors on-campus. I'm not sure that even in a market that needs people, like LA, that she'll get another glance.

Here's another option: Master's in Accounting. 2nd shot at on-campus recruiting, it is a credential that will be required as of next year (to get the credits necessary to sit for CPA) and it's probably her only way into a firm. It means a year off but, at a solid program, at least a job at a smaller national (BDO, Grant Thornton) or a regional. Baruch in NYC is a great school that feeds into the Big 4.

Didn't consider that option, but it's also a viable one. I have a friend who didn't get a job at a Big4, so she went back to school to get her Masters in Business Taxation. I think she got a job with E&Y.
post #11 of 22
Quote:
Originally Posted by eddievddr10 View Post
My wife recently completed her CPA exam, she passed all 4 parts with great scores in about an 8 month period. We have sent her resume out many times (with forwarding to friends in firms) but she hasn't even landed an interview. She graduated in 2008 and we had a baby so she did not get a job straight out of school. I know experiance is a huge factor but i figured passing the exam would count for something. At this point she'd even be willing to intern at a BIG 4 to gain some experiance. She has reached out to her college for help but so far nothing has come through. If anyone here has any useful tips into getting interviews any advice would be greatly appreciated.

Also if anyone here has any influence in a firm and can do anything besides doling out advice feel free to PM me, i would be extremely thankful.

PM me.
post #12 of 22
Quote:
Originally Posted by embowafa View Post
Former Big4 auditor here.

Big4 recruiting/hiring is so structured, that if you don't go the "traditional" route, you're at a huge disadvantage.

The traditional route being that in your Junior year of college, you apply to intern the following summer and go through that recruiting process....you hopefully get hired as an intern, do well, and receive a full time offer. The other way is to go through the same campus recruiting process your Senior year (if you didn't intern the previous summer) and interview to join as a full-time employee after graduation.

I would say that's how 80-90% of all new-hires join the firms...at least in the bigger cities. The Big4 are in such high competition to get local talent from schools that the best students are identified from as early as Sophomore year.

You stated that experience is important. It is, in fact, the opposite. They don't care about experience, because the only experience that's truly valuable to you in audit/tax/advisory is on the job. They're much more concerned with grades, and whether or not you are a good fit as a person (not everyone is cutout for the job).

As to what steps your wife can take, there are still options, depending on what kind of professional/academic network she has developed. I would contact former professors she has a relationship with, and see if they can put in a good word...a LOT of them have connections to firms and recruiters (the recruiters need to be good with professors so that they direct their best students to their respective firms). If, while at school, she participated in Meet the Firms/Campus Recruiting events and has a relationship with the recruiters, I would contact them directly as well. As I'm sure you know by now, sending a resume into a general KPMG/EY/PWC/Deloitte website is basically gonna get you nowhere, so anything you can do to get the resume on someone's desk who can make a direct decision is much better.

Another option is to explore the non-Big4 mid-tier firms like Moss Adams/BDO/Grant Thornton. For one thing, being a part of a Big4 these days is NOT ALL THAT..especially when it comes to pay and work-life balance. They've managed to convince the world that if you're not Big4, you're not shit....that may still hold some validity, but goddamn if it isn't overrated. As a result of this pseudo-oligopoly on talent, the mid-tier's have to compete a lot of times in different ways to get good people who the Big4 might pass up due to their VERY structured recruiting process.

In either case, I would say that simply sending in a resume and hoping for the best is not a great way to go. Personality and communication skills are so important in public accounting that the people making the decisions need to speak to the candidate before they can even get their foot in the door. I know it sounds silly telling you you need to speak face to face with them when you're asking how you can speak face to to face with them...but that's the nature of the beast.


OH!! I also forgot...at least in LA, the Big4 are hurting bad for people. There have been a ton of departures in the last 6 months (including my own) and they need people. I know my firm has a referral program and so do the other 3 where they will pay an employee a few grand for recommending someone and getting them hired. If your wife has anyone on the inside, tell her to contact them directly...they'd be more than happy to help out a friend and get some $$$ out of it.

Good luck!!

good info
post #13 of 22
Quote:
For one thing, being a part of a Big4 these days is NOT ALL THAT..especially when it comes to pay and work-life balance.
Can you talk more about this? This is important for people to know.
post #14 of 22
Quote:
Originally Posted by Reevolving View Post
Can you talk more about this? This is important for people to know.

Having 2000 charge hours, 100 hours of CPE, 8 holidays, about 4-5 weeks vacation, and don't forget your unassigned time. Think about how 2000 charge hours + CPE time+ unassigned time+ travel time (total about 2300+ hours a year) fit into about 45 weeks of work. Then consider the salary you get and you'll see why it isn't always all it's cracked up to be.
post #15 of 22
Quote:
Originally Posted by Reevolving View Post
Can you talk more about this? This is important for people to know.
Don't get me wrong...in a lot of ways I'm still a big fan of the Big4...it's where I got my start and I wouldn't have the job/position/salary I have now if it weren't for them....someone who makes it out of a Big4 firm without getting fired has basically survived accounting/finance/business bootcamp. There's a reason they are consistently voted by many reputable publications as one of the 20-50 Best Places to Start a Career. You're basically being paid to soak up the knowledge of some very large/powerful companies...but you're also learning this much at the expense of any personal/social life you may want (if you want to see daylight between January and April, do not work in public accounting). On the other hand, the last 2-3 years in the Big4 have been SHITTAY. You'd be hard pressed to find a staff (1st through 4th year) that is very happy with their job, both the work-life balance and the salary. The mantra in the Big4 when I started in 2006 was "every 5 years your salary will double"...."we work hard and play hard". Yes, you'd work your ass off (80, 90, 100 hour weeks for a few months), but you'd get paid for it and there were other perks. When the economy took a shit and tons of clients went out of business/were bought out and existing clients wanted to pay lower fees, we lost a lot of business, raises came to a screeching halt, and any small perks disappeared. At my firm in LA (and I'm pretty sure this is across the board), raises were 0% in 2009 and in the single digits recently in 2010. To top it off, we were being told by partners to basically "suck it up"...there was no "We appreciate your efforts, we'll get through this...*pep talk*pep talk*" With how stressful the job is, this lack of appreciation for our working through the tough times just wasn't there....I don't think the partners realized that can go a long way. I won't get in to the details of how/why the job itself eventually sucked. What used to be an interesting profession that provoked critical thinking/research/complex analytical skills turned into a job of checklist upon fucking checklist. With all the lawsuits facing the firms, they basically took any subjectivity and decision making out of the job and made sure you followed the goddamn checklist. The thought of preparing a General Binder is making my skin crawl. When the economy picked up in late 09-10, things got worse....people would leave (there is a high amount of turnover in this industry, hence the emphasis on constant recruiting at the campus level) and there was MORE work for the people left over...just no pay or bonuses to match that increased workload. This was right around the time I left. I had had it and wanted OUT. I got a call from a client I audited for 3 years and they had a management position available....since they knew me and the quality of my work, I didn't even have to interview..they wanted ME...I was able to name my price and my terms (this is where I wouldn't be where I am w/out Big4). I almost doubled my salary and cut my hours in half...more money, less work...can't beat that! Back to the original point of Big4 vs. Mid-Tier. There is no doubting that the resources available at Mid-Tier are just not the same as Big4. The opportunity to work on Fortune 100-500 clients just isn't there...the chance to do long term international rotations isn't there (I don't think). However, when it comes down to it...audit is audit is audit. Whether you're auditing Bank of America or Local Bank X, you're still getting the experience of auditing a bank. IN FACT, you generally get more experience at a smaller client since a company of any considerable size is so massive, you'll only see a piece of the puzzle. I think people just get so caught up in the NAME of the company that they lose track of the big picture. I've spoken to so many recruits who even get caught up in the rankings/prestige among the Big4 even though there's hardly any impact of that rank in their day to day lives. WHO CARES if Deloitte is currently pulling in more worldwide revenue than PWC or EY or KPMG?? Are YOU gonna get paid more? Is someone gonna give you a gold star? Furthermore, WHO CARES if Grant Thornton's revenues are $5B and the lowest ranked Big4 (KPMG) is at $20B?? Are YOU gonna get paid more? Will people spit on you in the streets? Please. /rant
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