Update to an old post - And Help Please!

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Update to an old post - And Help Please!

Postby Brenda » Tue Feb 11, 2014 3:56 pm

Roughly four years ago, I was pondering a career change from Graphic Designer (which doesn't pay well and has very few job openings) to Accountant (which does pay well, and seemed to have plenty of jobs), and inquired about it here in the GRS forums.

My original post was titles "What Sort of Job Do You Have? Also: Suggestions?", and can be found here: viewtopic.php?f=9&t=4261

In order to make this career change, I went back to college in 2010.
In December of 2012 I received my Bachelors of Science in Accounting, with Honors.
This May (2014), I will be graduating again with my Masters in Accountancy (GPA is currently 3.96).

However, despite there being accountant jobs out there, I can't seem to land any job offers.
I've been applying at a wide variety of places: The "Big Four" public accounting firms, smaller public accounting firms, federal government positions, state government positions, regular corporate jobs, etc.

Usually my resume gets passed over altogether, and I never hear anything back. Once or twice, I've made it to the interview stage, but they always ended up going with someone else.

Accountants generally get hired 1 year before they graduate college, and most of my classmates already have jobs. I'll be graduating in less than 4 months, and I still have nothing lined up. Part of it may be due to my location (I'm located in the middle of nothing in southern Utah, and am NOT part of the dominant religion here), and I suspect part of it is my age, but there is no way of knowing for sure.

I'm willing to relocate to anywhere in the country, and I make this clear to the employers. My GPA is high, I'm involved in the college accountancy club, and I've done Volunteer Income Tax Preparation (VITA) through the IRS for the past 3 years.

I guess what I need to know is "How do I get a job?"
Can any of you great folks out there help me? Do any of you have an "in" to a public accounting firm that is hiring? Or has the economy eaten up a lot of the entry-level accounting jobs too? I'm hoping to be hired on as an Auditor with a public accounting firm, but at this point, I'm willing to do Tax work too.

Any suggestions, helps, tips, or contacts for companies would be very much appreciated! Thank you!


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Re: Update to an old post - And Help Please!

Postby alohabear » Tue Feb 11, 2014 5:26 pm

Congratulations on finishing your degree, and preliminary congrats on your Master's!

Does your university have a jobs center or resource center for recent and upcoming graduates that you can go to for assistance? Have you asked your classmates who received job offers how they did so? Both of these approaches might help you determine what you're missing or what your resume is missing that is causing you to be passed over. Also, have you considered going for any certifications in your field that would make you more competitive? (The one that comes to my mind is CPA, but I know very little about accounting.)

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Re: Update to an old post - And Help Please!

Postby DoingHomework » Tue Feb 11, 2014 11:40 pm

I have no idea what the job market for accountants looks like but it seems a little odd that you rarely even get interviews. You might consider networking just to get your resume looked at to see if you have some negatives you might not be aware of. You might also try looking in some larger cities (Phoenix, Vegas, SLC are all sort of in your area maybe, or Albuquerque if farther east, though I gather not based on your religion comment). If you have little experience perhaps getting a glorified bookkeeper job for a year or two at a small company may help.

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Re: Update to an old post - And Help Please!

Postby jpham540 » Wed Feb 12, 2014 9:17 am

Have you tried social networking like signing up for account like monster.com, linked in, indeed, yahoo hot jobs, craigslist, and job fox? There are many more but those are a good start. Good luck with your job searching let us know your progress.

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Re: Update to an old post - And Help Please!

Postby VinTek » Wed Feb 12, 2014 9:26 am

Have you gotten any actual work as an accountant since getting your BS in Accounting? With second careers, work experience really helps.

If not, are you planning to take the exam to become a CPA? From what I've seen in the field of accounting, getting certified increases your employment chances a lot more than having a Master's degree. The trouble with a Master's degree in Accounting without work experience is that you become overqualified for entry-level accounting jobs, yet without experience, no one really wants to pay you what a Master's degree is worth because no one knows how good you actually are at accounting.

If I were you, I'd take a hard look at my classmates who were getting the jobs that I wasn't. I'd bet a lot of them have notched up quite a bit more work experience in accounting than you and a good number of them either have or are planning to get their certifications.

DH has a good recommendation. Have your resume vetted, to see if there's something that makes prospective employers reticent about even taking you to the interview stage.

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Re: Update to an old post - And Help Please!

Postby Brenda » Wed Feb 12, 2014 4:52 pm

@alohabear: Yes, we do have a career center and I actively use it and apply to jobs listed there, as well as attend all career fairs, and have went to resume classes, had my resume looked at at the career center, and gone to interview class.

I've asked my classmates how they got job offers, and MANY of them were because "They had family there" or because "they knew someone".

@DoingHomework: I've definitely applied to jobs in all the "big cities" such as Vegas (the one interview I did get was in Vegas), and every city you had suggested, plus plenty more around the country. I sent out a bunch of resumes and cover letters last night to jobs in 32 cities spanning 16 different states (and I've sent out plenty before that). However, the "networking" events around here are all centered with companies in SLC, and said companies tend to be highly biased as to who they hire. So my "networking" doesn't do me as much good here (I'd have to convert to their religion for it to really do good) and it's hard to network face-to-face in other cities that are far away. I've tried for bookkeeper jobs in small companies in my town. They're even harder to get than jobs in larger companies in larger cities, because there is a huge small-town, same-religion bias here. Ok, I'll be frank: Utah is way different than the rest of the USA. It's like being in another country, if you are not Mormon.

@jpham540: Yes. My resume is constantly updated on Monster.com, my profile is updated regularly on LinkedIn, and I browse the other sites (plus more) you mentioned for job listings.

@VinTek: No, I have no experience at all, other than the VITA tax preparation experience. And therein lies a big problem. Many of the companies out there won't hire an accountant without experience, and without being hired, I cannot get experience. It's a catch-22. The "Big Four" and other larger public accounting firms *DO* hire college grads with no experience, and it's almost expected that a college grad begin by getting their first job with a company like Deloitte, McGladrey, KPMG, BDO, PwC, Grant Thornton, or Ernst & Young. However, I found out AFTER I invested four years into school that those big companies prefer to hire *young* college students. I've heard through the grapevine that they don't usually hire older people who are starting accounting as their second career. I didn't believe the rumors, because i figured that my age and maturity would be a PLUS, but I'm finding out that perhaps the public accounting firms don't see it that way. I've heard that their concern is someone of my age won't take orders from the young kids who are often the managers. Which is silly... i don't care what a person's age is. If they're my boss, I listen to them.

I've had my resume looked at by teachers, counselors and my classmates, and everyone is very impressed with how it looks and reads. But none of those people are responsible for hiring, so I have no idea. I've tried to get feedback from the companies I've given my resume to, but usually I do *not* get responses to my questions.

That's why I'm posting here. This is literally my last resort, because I've exhausted all the other options already.

As for the CPA exam: Yes, I will still be going ahead with it. The reason I got my Master's Degree is so that I *could* take the CPA exam. About half the states in the US require a Master's Degree (or 150 class hours) before you are even allowed to sit for the CPA exam. That is the requirement here, so I could not have taken the CPA exam here with just a Bachelor's degree. I'll be graduating in May, and then starting the exam some time in the Fall. It's a long process, since there are four parts to the exam, and each part is around 3.5 hours long (a total of 14 hours of testing). But yes, I'll definitely be taking it. It's just a shame I have to do it on my own, because supposedly, most of those larger public accounting firms will pay for you to take the exam (it's pricey) if they hire you. Which is one of the reasons I was really hoping to be hired first, before I take the exam.

Anyway, thanks for the suggestions everyone. I guess what I really need is someone who is a hiring manager to take a look at my resume, and figure out what I'm missing.

If anyone here in the forms is responsible for hiring in their company, I'd love for you to look at and critique my resume, if you could!


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Re: Update to an old post - And Help Please!

Postby Guitar Salad » Mon Mar 10, 2014 1:14 pm


I'm not sure how I missed this post a month ago as I've been lurking on these forums more frequently since, coincidentally, finishing my master's degree in accounting this past May. I don't remember specifically reading your first post but it feels really familiar, and I was reading these boards back then.

The main reason I'm writing (and please feel free to PM me is you want to talk more) is that I've run into a lot of the same stuff you have. I went back to school (previously studied marketing) at at age 28 and finished my master's at age 29 after a year of accounting prerequisite classes and the one year master's program. By the sound of it, you might be older than me, but I do understand the feeling that you got that firms wanted to hire younger people.

From the get-go I wanted to go into auditing. Preferably Big 4, but other national, regional or local firms were not out of the question at all. My experience at meet the firms was first as an undergrad who had barely completed an exam in an upper level accounting class and hadn't posted a grade. After on my interactions with recruiters, I managed to land a few interviews for internships/externships without any accounting grades. I'm guessing that was based mostly on the fact that I graduated with a 3.75 GPA with my marketing degree. I was unfortunately very rusty in the interviews, and luck was not on my side as well as my grandfather passed away suddenly during interview week. It was everything I could do to get through life without sobbing uncontrollably, let alone nail an interview. Afterward, I told myself that there was always next year and tried desperately to find any kind of internship. Luckily, there were a hand full of companies hiring accounting interns in the spring and I found one with a large SEC filer (there are only a few in my city).

Turn the clock forward to the following year and I went through meet the firms once again in the fall of 2012. This time I was armed with a much better plan of attack (get there early, get in with the Big 4 first because everyone wants to talk to them, then talk to anyone with a pulse afterward). Even with what I think was an outstanding plan, I came up short of talking to every firm I wanted to because that meat market of an event only lasts for a couple hours. I could have spent another hour there talking to firms. I also had a fuller resume at the time with an accounting internship, a 4.0 undergrad accounting gpa and a 4.0 grad program gpa. I don't write this to sound like a braggart because despite having different luck with interviews (I got about 9 or so) I wound up without a single offer from an audit firm. I was pretty shocked and was really down for a few weeks as I tried to salvage my job search since there are no real spring recruiting events at my school.

What I came to realize was that in addition to a bias toward younger people that no firm would likely admit to, that the number of audit jobs available in my city was pretty small despite the fact that it is a large metropolitan area. Half of the big four had no positions available in town. Most other firms had something like 3-4 with a few others having even more. I found myself competing for jobs in a small market alongside students from 3 state universities. I didn't get any of them. A large reason for the small number of jobs was that my school offered a 5 year accounting program that placed undergrads in internships with firms. It would have been fantastic to be part of it, but I would have wound up with an additional year of loans just for that. Most of these students got offers from their firms which limited the number of available jobs for people like me. Ultimately, I wound up with two offers to consider (so don't give up). I applied to the state auditor general's office that offered me a position in a department I wasn't interested in, and I had an offer from my internship to continue my employment as a full time staff accountant. I'm still working for the company I interned with and love my team.

However, my company is merging and our HQ is relocating to a city that I don't want to live in. In order to take advantage of a generous severance, I'm planning on staying here until they close the doors in my city and then find another job. My current plan is to try to network with firms' recruiters on linkedin, finish my CPA before I have to find a new job (FAR and REG to go!), and network with friends in other businesses that might need people in their companies' accounting departments.
Student loans of approx 50k. Taking those bad boys out is the name of the game.

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