How Do I Get Into An Accounting Firm?

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Comments (28)

Shawn moving to Florida in Lawrenceville, Georgia

96 months ago

I feel like I am being punished for joining and staying in the military for 20 years of my life. I have all the education, however, my military background is combat arms and support mostly. I feel like there is this stigma against service members-especially enlisted Marines-that we are dumb. Yes my GPA may not be what the firms are looking for, but there is another side to that coin, not only was I a full time student at night school...not only was I a husband with two daughters....but I was also an active duty Marine. But yet I cannot compete for entrly-level positions with these firms. I keep hearing if a position comes available that match my experiences I will be contacted. How many accounting firm positions have anything to do with anything resembling combat arms in the Marine Corps? None! What can I do to over come this hurdle?

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Shawn moving to Florida in Lawrenceville, Georgia

96 months ago

I appreciate your input. However, I have one question, and not to sound dumb! But what is Industry...or what do you mean by Industry? Remember I am a Marine. If you mean Industry as in work for local companies...they all require Big 4 Accounting Experience (years of plus a CPA). I am studying for my CPA now...but I am skeptical of taking it...because once I take it....what will I do with it? The test means nothing in Corporate America without the experience to go with it...at least that is my perception. And to be clear the positions I am looking at are not CFO and crazy positions like that. I am looking for what I think are entry level positions that does not seem to mondane (hope that is spelled right...my dictionary is in a box in storage). Here is a question for you: how does one get SAP experience if everyone is asking for years of experience with it? How does one find an entry level position where (s)he can learn SAP? Once again appreciate your feed back..and hope to get more input from you.

Thanks!

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No Name in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

96 months ago

Industry is private or public companies. Companies like Lockheed, General Dynamics etc would appreciate a military background and there are many smaller companies that subcontract to these large organization. Here is where you need to do research. I see you are in Florida so need to find out what are the business in your geographical area and consider relocation.

If experience is the void. How about a small accounting firm? At late 30+ on you will not find an entry level at big 4. As I said they recruit out of college and those with few years experience. Remeber they work those people to death and then either release them in the slow season or they leave for private industry.

I suggest to use the Marine background and make a list of character strengths transfer to business needs. I.E discipline, can do attitude etc.....

Passing the CPA shows you are series and want to advance. Also back to my commenty on the public sector (government jobs) do not consider this out. There will be a large portion of the population retiring from public service. The baby boomers. They will leave government and education starting 2007 with the escalation in 2010 on. A vacuum to fill the void for these open positions will happen. Government and education have to staff and salaries will start to approach the private sector. It just will take some time.
A military background is given some edge. Your career transition may take some time so you will have to have a plan and work towards it.
Regarding SAP, the install of the application has many modules and only the big ones buy the whole package. These skill sets can be learned and you just need to get a chance.
In business technical skills also require skills in communication, team work etc. So do not forget the soft side.

(Shawn, good luck. I just happen to be on the web because I was layed off after 20 years and I am looking since Nov 06. So I know how a job search is. do give up)

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Army brat in Grand Saline, Texas

96 months ago

Mr Marine, I say that with utmost respect being an Army brat and living with a just retired Navy Chief. The civilian world may think you are a bit dumb, afterall, you were willing to take a bullet for little pay. That said, you should look to your strenghts and focus on those in your cover letter, resume and interviews. The few Marines I have known exemplify dedication and determination regardless of circumstance, are quick studies, and while a bit stiff( it's that military bearing) are personable. I'm suspect you have these qualities also. The toughest challenge you will have is correlating your military experience with civilian lingo. I'm sure you didn't spend the last 20 years constantly in combat mode. What were the supporting tasks you performed? They should equate to business tasks. Did you train subordinates? That's employee mentoring in business lingo. Did you track combat gear, perform maintenace on the gear, order supplies, replace items? That's inventory management. Sorry, I can't help you with D&T, but there are alot of other companies who would welcome your skills. Don't give up!

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Shawn

96 months ago

Thank you for your kind words! Let's clear up the stiff part though. If I was not to tell you, and you and I met on the streets, you would never know I was one. I have been told I am entirely too animated to be a Marine. But, yes translating Marine service to the real world is a challenge. I have hard/technical skills (construction, drafting and surveying), but I want to work in the Concrete Jungle (the glass buildings downtown), and that is why I went to school to get the education I thought I would need to get down there. Anyway Army Brat thanks for the kinds words of support. Wait! And for the note...I was not a bullet trap...I cleared the path for the bullet traps...lol!

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Shawn

96 months ago

You have got to be a scientist. You are spitting these terms at me like you are a professor. I have applied for government positions on the USAJOBS.com website, and I keep getting the we have found people more qualified for this position. Even though the OPM (Office of Personnel Management) says I rate to come in as a GS-9, I will never get in there. I think I am on my way to bagging groceries with the 16 year olds.....lol! Thanks for responding to my last comments.

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No Name in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

96 months ago

Hello S.

I just check back as I look myself for a job.

Here is my suggested plan.

Get the CPA completed. Do a career assesment and action plan. Set goals and timetables.

MS office tools need to be excel power user. If not get with a community college course. (Be able to do pivot tables and V look up and nested statements. This how to crunch data fast)

The job market is defined as 80% network and balance ads and recruiters. Networking is the most affective job hunt. If you are 40 or older probably recruiter will not do much. Most recruiter have just entry level and target market is peolpe 20-30 yrs. Here they try to control the wage level (20-40k)

Forget about big 4 and try the small firms. Get the phone book out and call them all. Also go back to your college to get help with the career center if available.

Sqeaky wheel gets the oil. I know its tough you are not the only one. It may take some time. I know it sucks.

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Army brat in Plano, Texas

96 months ago

Mr. Marine,
Sounds like you have what it takes. I think the suggestion from one of the other participants about 'squeaky wheel' is the way to go. I'm searching myself and have found that persistence is the key. I've search the websites and researched a couple of local placement companies before sending a resume. Then I follow-up in a day or two with a phone call. Sometimes, more than one call. It's taken a month, but I now have 4 companies working on placing me at key companies. Don't stop there, keep sending in the resumes and doing follow-up calls and attending any local job fairs. You never know when the next contact will have the position you are the person for. After all, this is your future. I'm now at the interview stage and am getting a few, not as many as I would like, but I think one will come through soon. Most of all, stay positive, I know that's the hardest part, but it's a selling game and the numbers will tell.

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Shawn in De Leon Springs, Florida

96 months ago

Yeah I may have to give up the Big 4. CPA Exam is on the list for summer. I will get some burger job just to keep me off the street. But the excel....I love excel. I do not remember how to build the pivot table...but love the V-LOOKUP! Anyway let me get off of here...I am at the library because where I am staying during my down turn and lack of ability to find a job...we are working with dial up....omg there should be a law against that.

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J in North Royalton, Ohio

95 months ago

Hey Shawn, no firm worth their salt would let a dedicated and hard-working Marine such as yourself get away! You're probably targeting the wrong type of firms. Stay away from the Big 6--they are prima donna companies that prefer Ivy league backgrounds and anyone under the age of 25.

Look for smaller firms that are growing rapidly and that are committed to diversity--race, ethnicity, and age. In Cleveland, we have a Weatherhead 100--fast growing companies. Look for something like that...good luck! And thanks for your service to our country.

Shawn moving to Florida said: I feel like I am being punished for joining and staying in the military for 20 years of my life. I have all the education, however, my military background is combat arms and support mostly. I feel like there is this stigma against service members-especially enlisted Marines-that we are dumb. Yes my GPA may not be what the firms are looking for, but there is another side to that coin, not only was I a full time student at night school...not only was I a husband with two daughters....but I was also an active duty Marine. But yet I cannot compete for entrly-level positions with these firms. I keep hearing if a position comes available that match my experiences I will be contacted. How many accounting firm positions have anything to do with anything resembling combat arms in the Marine Corps? None! What can I do to over come this hurdle?

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DNC in Savannah, Georgia

95 months ago

Shawn moving to Florida said: I feel like I am being punished for joining and staying in the military for 20 years of my life. I have all the education, however, my military background is combat arms and support mostly. I feel like there is this stigma against service members-especially enlisted Marines-that we are dumb. Yes my GPA may not be what the firms are looking for, but there is another side to that coin, not only was I a full time student at night school...not only was I a husband with two daughters....but I was also an active duty Marine. But yet I cannot compete for entrly-level positions with these firms. I keep hearing if a position comes available that match my experiences I will be contacted. How many accounting firm positions have anything to do with anything resembling combat arms in the Marine Corps? None! What can I do to over come this hurdle?

Actually if your clearance is still active, you have a several ace up your sleeve. Florida is full of Manufacturing and Consulting Companies for NASA and the US Military. Target them in your job seacrh.

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Shawn in Orlando, Florida

95 months ago

No my mistake was I dreamed of working in the concrete jungle. So, I went to school and educated myself to play in the concrete jungle. I have given up on that. I am going back to school and getting a degree in Information Systems Security and going to work at Lockheed Martin kind of place. So I will survive for the next 3 years doing mundane/meaningless work to survive...and then I will go and do meaningful work. Wow...I cannot believe all the responses I have in here...Let me go reply to them all.

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Shawn in Orlando, Florida

95 months ago

Thank you for appreciating my service. And, I have given up on the Big 4 world. I got the we considered you for several positions...we just chose someone that we felt would be a better fit. "I guess I am an idiot." I am sorry for all the young college grads that read this...but there is absolutely no way you can sell yourself as having a better work ethic or history than I do. It is all about cost...! They know if they hire there 20 to 30 year olds....they can keep their costs down...and that is all it is. But as I have said....in a previous response..we have moved on...the GLEIM Publications (CPA Review) are put in boxes....! I am going back to night school for Information Security Systems. We are moving on!

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no name in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

95 months ago

A burger flipping job to pay the bills while you train and wait for the real job you want will delay and possibly make harder entry into the are you seek. Try to at least get a position with related skill sets. There are no transferable skills from fast food to LM.

You are at a career transition point and it will take time. Work hard and smart. Be your own advocate. When things do not work, take a day off and then re-group.

Maybe consider the CMA exam instead of CPA. You are not alone in your frustration or desire to want a meaningful decent job. People all over this site are doing the same including myself.

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Just Hit 50!! in Indianapolis, Indiana

95 months ago

Shawn,

I recently acquired a position with DFAS (1 yr in about 10 days). You have to take another approach to securing a position through the OPM jungle. Go to the college recruiting website and you should see a recruitier name and email. Forward your resume' directly to that individual. Most often you will get a quicker reply than going throuhg the application process. This is what I did and it worked (yes I was a student, but in my late 40's). I didn't feel comfortable with using the application process because I did not feel that I would get a response, since I was aware of the need to bring in younger employees that did not have experience. Hang in there it does get easier. By the way, I had a dream 10 nyears ago that I would work at Frt. Harrison and I too took classes to prepare for the opportunity that came my way.

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Shawn in Oceanside, California

95 months ago

I appreciate your inside scoop. But, I have given up on any of that accounting/finance mess. Especially on the government side. I started to write the OPM another letter, but I come to the realization-it didn't do me any good the first time, why waste my time writing again. I am just going to go some where and write tickets-be a cop. I have served for 20 years, and I am comfortable with it. Once I take this civil service test I am going to remove my resumes from monster and careerbuilder. I wish you the best at DFAS.

Later,

Shawn M. Smith, MBA
Staff Sergeant, United States Marine Corps (Ret.)

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no name in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

95 months ago

Sometimes you do not get a response because a position is advertised and the permisson to interview and hire is delayed. I just got a call from a comapny I applied to 4x. Be persistent and do not give up. Only you can manage your career.

If you remove your resume then not visable. Marketing my friend!

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Marine Dad in Newton Center, Massachusetts

95 months ago

First, thanks for your service in uniform.

If you haven't looked into "Marine for Life", please do so. It is Marines helping Marines.

www.m4l.usmc.mil/

Good luck.

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shakil127 in Orlando, Florida

86 months ago

I am located in Orlando and an accounting graduate. I was looking for an entry level position in a local firm and I never found one. It is still a mystery to me why I did not get any offer. I interviewed with dozens local firm and nobody never call me back for second interview. I never had problem with getting the first interview. I tried to do better interview everytime I met interviewer. I am not sure what else to do. I am taking a staff accountant job with a Fortune 200 company. I wanted to work in public accounting and i never got a chance to work with any of them. i even asked them to give me a chance as an Intern. I really like to hear from other people what they think about it and any advice. Not to mention my gpa is a little above 3.1. I guess BIG 4 does not even invite for interview if you dont have 3.3 or 3.4 unless you know someone. I don't really know anyone who can refer me.But I would pursue my CPA. But I dont think i can even open my own firm without any public accounting experience.

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Accounting Acquisition Agent in Gahanna, Ohio

86 months ago

Well,,,,,,,,

you should soon have your opportunity to work with a public firm,,,there is a true talent shortage and at some point most of the people in public want out. It's the die-hards that stay and then they end up adding to the top heaviness of the firm.

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swif lee in New York, New York

86 months ago

hey shakil. let me give you some input as i am pretty much in the same boat. in my opinion you should stay away from the big 4, reason being everybody wants to get in the big 4. so chances of them looking into your resume is very slim. it is true that if you know somebody in the big 4 you are most likely to get an interview and if hired the person who referred you gets a big bonus something like 10-15k. my suggestion is try going for the smaller firms you get great experience.
not too sure if you are familiar with the hiring trend, but in ny if you apply now, you are really applying for a position for the following year in fall.
i've been done with college since 06 still not in cpa firm yet, but i have gone through interviews. i was never told about the hiring trend until recently (probably a couple of months ago). but from the time i graduated til now i've been working in the accounting field. i honestly feel everybody who are pursuing a cpa firm should have a year of accounting experience it could be A/R, A/P, or staff accounting.
but don't worry you are going the right track. just try and send out your resume with cover letters. call the firms and speak with their hr coordinator, and inquiry about a position.
now if your goal is to open up your own firm in the long run, pursue the cpa exam. you don't need to work in public acct to get your certification. you could work for a private firm, but you have to be under supervision who has a cpa, it takes a little longer.

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shakil127 in Orlando, Florida

85 months ago

swif lee in New York, New York said: hey shakil. let me give you some input as i am pretty much in the same boat. in my opinion you should stay away from the big 4, reason being everybody wants to get in the big 4. so chances of them looking into your resume is very slim. it is true that if you know somebody in the big 4 you are most likely to get an interview and if hired the person who referred you gets a big bonus something like 10-15k. my suggestion is try going for the smaller firms you get great experience.
not too sure if you are familiar with the hiring trend, but in ny if you apply now, you are really applying for a position for the following year in fall.
i've been done with college since 06 still not in cpa firm yet, but i have gone through interviews. i was never told about the hiring trend until recently (probably a couple of months ago). but from the time i graduated til now i've been working in the accounting field. i honestly feel everybody who are pursuing a cpa firm should have a year of accounting experience it could be A/R, A/P, or staff accounting.
but don't worry you are going the right track. just try and send out your resume with cover letters. call the firms and speak with their hr coordinator, and inquiry about a position.
now if your goal is to open up your own firm in the long run, pursue the cpa exam. you don't need to work in public acct to get your certification. you could work for a private firm, but you have to be under supervision who has a cpa, it takes a little longer.

Thanks for your good and kind opinion. I am just keep looking for jobs with public accounting firm. I think that having public accounting exprience is a big advantage in future advancement in acounting career in both public and private accounting.

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got jobs and no candidates in Columbus, Ohio

84 months ago

if you have previous background in public and have an real interest,,,just buzz me

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ED ED ED in Epsom, United Kingdom

84 months ago

Getting into a good accounting firm is very hard... have you had a look at www.wikijob.co.uk/wiki/Accountancy:_the_most_popular_career_choice_for_graduates%3F or at www.wikijob.co.uk? This might help you...

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ED ED ED in Epsom, United Kingdom

80 months ago

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Kaylee in Phoenix, Arizona

52 months ago

got jobs and no candidates in Columbus, Ohio said: if you have previous background in public and have an real interest,,,just buzz me

Hi, I write for a CPA review course Facebook page where we have many candidates who are pursuing their CPA and seeking work. If you have openings, please let me know.

KL

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Kaylee in Phoenix, Arizona

52 months ago

Shawn in Oceanside, California said: I appreciate your inside scoop. But, I have given up on any of that accounting/finance mess. Especially on the government side. I started to write the OPM another letter, but I come to the realization-it didn't do me any good the first time, why waste my time writing again. I am just going to go some where and write tickets-be a cop. I have served for 20 years, and I am comfortable with it. Once I take this civil service test I am going to remove my resumes from monster and careerbuilder. I wish you the best at DFAS.

Later,

Shawn M. Smith, MBA
Staff Sergeant, United States Marine Corps (Ret.)

Shawn, don't give up on your dream. A couple of suggestions:
1. Contact HirePatriots.com in Carlsbad. They are a job board and provide career counseling for those who, like you, have served our country so well.
2. There are many small manufacturing companies in Oceanside, Carlsbad and Vista which supply the military. You might pick up a list of businesses from the local Chambers of Commerce and call those businesses. Ask for the person who hires their accounting people. Tell that person that you have 20 years in the USMC plus your degree and your pursuit of the CPA. Close by asking for an interview: "Is Tuesday at 3 or Wed. at 10 better for you?" Two days and two different times.
3. Ask for free tickets to the local Chambers of Commerce Sundowners or social gatherings. Print up a business card (Vista Print is inexpensive) that has your contact info and 3-4 salient points about your background. TRADE business cards with everyone there. Next day, call and follow up.
Hang in there! The right job is looking for you right now. :-)

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Clark Hayes in Beverly Hills, California

21 months ago

When I got my job in accounting it was not from applying to an online application. Everyone gets a job from who they know not what they know. People need to stop applying to random online jobs bc thats all you are to the company.. A random resume. Some companies like jobunlocker provide contacts and a method to contact these accounting professionals to land a job. Check it out and best of luck.

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