How To Get A Job In Public Accounting – People leave public accounting for a number of reasons, but chief among them is the desire to do something new and take on a more challenging role. That is why there is nothing sadder than seeing aspiring professionals leave one sector and languish in another.
I am a witness again this time. Accountants stop building their technical expertise when they take on a new job, or they jump into positions that offer high salaries and fancy titles but little in the way of professional development.
How To Get A Job In Public Accounting
Others become complacent and they stop building their professional networks, don’t seek out challenges and fail to connect with people doing innovative work. But you don’t have to be a victim of this career kiss of death! By taking a holistic view of your job options, you can make smart, informed choices about the companies you work for.
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Changing jobs can be difficult. How do you know when the time is right? Is your itch just a passing feeling, or is leaving public accounting the best option for you?
When work becomes a low-energy, boring, motion-by-motion experience, it’s time to do a self-check-in to see what’s really going on. You’re miserable and hate your job, but you don’t feel as excited and interested as you did before.
If you’re having these conversations and feelings, it’s time to consider leaving public accounting. By nature, accountants are quite conservative and risk-averse – this means they may stay in a job for a long time because they don’t want to take a chance on something new.
Sometimes feelings fade. But if the feeling of resentment doesn’t pass with the season, you may be ready to consider leaving public accounting.
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“By nature, accountants tend to be quite conservative and risk-averse – which means they may stay in a job longer because they don’t want to take a chance on something new.” What do I like about my job?
If the main thing you enjoy is the people you work with (not the work itself, the headspace or fulfillment you’re in), this is a major sign that it’s time to move on. Everyone wants to like the people they work with, so dig a little deeper. Are you passionate about your daily job duties?
Long stretches of the busy season (especially with double busy-seasons) can make it even more tempting if you’re feeling a lack of passion for your job.
Other accounting and finance professionals may like the technical aspects of their work, but realize they don’t enjoy being part of a large corporate entity. They feel they don’t fit into a large corporate-structured environment, so they may want to explore startups or professional services firms that operate with a structurally different model.
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Use the following criteria to judge whether or not a company furthers your ambitions and offers dynamic, fulfilling opportunities.
The person you regularly report to can make or break your work experience. If you’re coming from public accounting, you want to work with a supervisor who understands what you did there. She knows how to emphasize your strengths and improve on your weaknesses, and she has a keen sense of what projects fit your experience when you first joined the team.
You don’t want to land in a company where supervisors don’t value finance and accounting. Not only are you missing out on valuable mentorship opportunities, but you’re also doing boring work in a cramped back office. That kind of setup is bad for morale and can lead to career stagnation. Inquire about the background of your immediate supervisor. If she works in accounting and finance or has a track record of hiring and developing CPAs, you’ve found a plum firm.
The finance and accounting industry in Silicon Valley and the Bay Area is small, so researching a company’s reputation is not difficult. If few people have heard of the business or negative rumors are flying around, proceed with caution. When you interview at any company, talk to as many people as possible about the culture and work environment. Some good questions to ask are:
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The last question is a particularly strong indicator of a company’s status. Well-regarded businesses often see employees moving on to challenging roles at top companies. You want to know if this position fits your desired career trajectory. Look for companies with at least 5-10% annual growth. You want to work for a growing company, especially in your first job outside of public accounting.
You can really draw on the specialized knowledge you’ve acquired as a public accountant. If you have a lot of experience in asset management or have a passion for consumer products or biotechnology, you can go after positions in these industries.
Recruiters help you find the right opportunities and present your experience in a way that works for a new job. At, we help public accountants who want to move into a wide range of industries. If you’ve developed the right experience as a public accountant, you can use it to your advantage when you’re ready to take on a new role.
Startups offer an exciting, challenging environment and fantastic financial experience. However, working in a large company before joining a startup has some advantages.
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Larger firms have larger finance departments, which means more opportunities to learn many skills and gain valuable professional guidance. You will also learn about implementation techniques and standard best practices, which will help you if you join a startup later.
When you work with a more established company, you develop a broader network of contacts in financial planning and analysis, corporate development, and other areas. These contacts will help you in getting jobs in future.
If you still decide that the startup world is better than a large corporation, consider the questions below to find the right opportunity.
Research their previous investments and whether they were successful or not. Ask about the investor’s principles and personalities. His reputation and records speak for themselves.
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Working for a startup can be incredibly exciting, but understanding the financial landscape and risks before you sign a contract is essential. In some cases, founders may say they have a year’s worth of capital, but when you look at the books, you’ll find significantly less than that.
Again, it’s important to know the background of your boss or manager. A CEO without a finance background doesn’t understand that if you’re coming from public accounting, you won’t have experience closing the books and will have a significant learning curve when you start.
However, if you are working under a regulator who has a public accounting background and can train you in operational accounting, it is a fantastic opportunity to learn and grow your skills.
High salaries and glamorous-sounding titles often lure public accountants into unfulfilling and stressful positions. Getting good compensation is important, but if you’re leaving public accounting you need to take a big-picture approach to your job search.
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“Always come back to your core career goals and focus on quality of experience and short-term financial gain or ego satisfaction.”
Some of the best companies in the Bay Area don’t pay the highest salaries because they don’t have to. Their great reputation and acclaimed cultures make them a litter pick when it comes to job candidates. Working for one of them means taking a lower salary for a richer professional experience.
Beware of companies that offer disproportionately high salaries. They can compensate for negative work environment, long hours and poor work-life balance. The same goes for impressive-sounding titles. They are less important than your actual job duties, so don’t be deprived of money and perceived power.
Always come back to your core career goals and focus on quality of experience and short-term financial gain or ego satisfaction. You will earn more money and see more success in the long run if you take jobs that have integrity to your values and goals.
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Say, “I’ve received another offer. I am ready for a new direction with my career. It makes the organization more about you.
Show that you are grateful for the opportunity and maintain a positive attitude. If you’re resigning from someone you work directly with, come to the meeting with a transition plan. If you are resigning from a consultant at an organization, express gratitude for how they have invested in your personal growth and for what you have learned from the organization.
Public accounting and industry jobs are very different, and you can see that difference early on – in the interview.
First, when you interview with a public accounting firm right out of college, there are usually 50 open positions depending on the size of your starting class. Your interviewer will ask standard questions about your education and your GPA, and why you chose accounting.
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“You don’t have to figure it all out, and you have the opportunity to learn more about yourself
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