Blog Archive

Thursday, November 19, 2009

The Great Employment Challenge of 2009

This past year has been like few others in recent memory for firms in our industry, professional accountants and accounting students alike. The recession has had a considerable effect on our industry, which has ultimately resulted in many more job seekers than jobs, both at the experienced and college levels.

One of the responsibilities that I have is to monitor and respond to inquiries that we get by phone, by email, and our social media channels (our Facebook page primarily). On an almost daily basis, we have been hearing from people asking about what they need to do or who they need to speak to in order to be considered for any of our current openings. Those that are inquiring in many cases include students at universities we don't recruit at (we are recruiting at 130+ campuses nationwide this year), as well as those who graduated in the last year or two but are still looking for an entry-level opportunity. Up until last year, there were plenty of opportunities for everyone to go around. Oh how quickly and dramatically times have changed.

I feel tremendous empathy for all those who are having so much difficulty with their job search these days. I have several friends who have been out of work for most of this year. I remember when I came out of college in the early '90s just how many of my fellow Liberal Arts graduates were unable to find full-time jobs and either went on to continue their education or went into jobs entirely unrelated to their major.

But looking back, I also see what made a difference for me in helping me get my career off the ground. I wasn't that much smarter or had better grades than my classmates. I was a Psychology major, and there aren't too many entry-level career opportunities for those with a BS in Psychology, let me tell you! The difference for me was a great connection that I had. In my senior year, I was an undergrad research assistant, and the professor I was working for hooked me up with a part-time job with a small start up which I started at just before I graduated. The job & company didn't have alot to do with my major, but it was work! What it led to though was my meeting a executive recruiter who we shared office space with. It was through him that I found my calling in recruiting, and I have been there ever since.

As I try to help those who are writing us, looking for advice on how to get their foot in the door with our firm, it keeps coming back to one thing, networking. Networking will ALWAYS be the best way to find a new job, when times are good, but especially when times are tough. In times like these, it's also important to consider all options available to you. Ultimately, you need to find those things that will set you apart from the candidates you are competing against, and you need to find a relevant job. Here's a few thoughts on what to do to help you with your job search in these challenging times:
  • Stay close to your professors, your family, family friends, friends who may of graduated prior to you. Let all of them know that you are still looking for that first job after you graduate. Ask them to help you make connections with decision makers at companies you are interested in working at. If they know of anyone who works here at McGladrey, even better, ask them to introduce you.
  • If we don't have an opportunity for you right now here at McGladrey, you may need to consider going to a smaller firm, or to a corporate accounting/finance role. Large firms like us will recover and will be hiring in greater numbers again hopefully in the near future. If we don't have anything for you now, maybe we will in another year or two.
  • If you are in your Freshman-to-Junior years, do anything and everything you can to secure an internship position, preferably in public accounting, but any relevant internship will do. Also get active and pursue leadership roles in accounting-related student groups like Beta Alpha Psi, NABA, ALPFA, Ascend, etc.
  • Use online networking tools like LinkedIn to identify leaders in public accounting firms and other companies that you might want to work for. Join relevant LinkedIn Groups to enhance your ability to network with others who have similar backgrounds and interests as you. Many of these Groups have job listings as well.
  • Stay positive and focused. Others will sense any frustration or negativity that you may be projecting, purposely or not. When you network, it's more than just about you, look to help others as much as you can as well.

In summary, if you rely solely on submitting your resume for jobs you find on the website, or sending your resume by email to recruiters, you won't get very far. If you do submit your resume follow the process as far as you can, but realize that there are probably many others who have applied for the same job(s) you have. Networking may not always feel like you are looking for a job, but the point is to build relationships and connections that will be mutually beneficial, that will help to set you apart from the rest, and that will ultimately result in you finding a relevant and meaningful career.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Podcasts: Hear from 3 McGladrey New Associate Hires

Every fall, hundreds of recent college graduates join McGladrey as new Associates. What factors made them decide to join McGladrey? What are their expectations as they start their new roles? Here is your opportunity to hear directly from three of our new associates as they describe their experience joining the firm. Click the links below to listen!

Nathan B - Audit Associate from Elkhart, Ind.

Kelly G. - Tax Associate from Boston, Mass.

Zach C. - Consulting Associate from Des Moines, Iowa

Friday, November 13, 2009

My Shawshank Redemption - A Screenplay: Part 2

Last week, I kicked off a series of posts (in screenplay form) on my experiences preparing for and taking the CPA Exam. What I thought was going to be a slam-dunk has turned into something much more challenging and unexpected. Could things get worse? Lets' find out as we continue with...

My Shawshank Redemption - A Screenplay

Scene Three

Setting: Library, end of October; late evening; dim light from reading lamp; quiet and empty.
Music: Faint, indistinguishable, dark classical – think Beethoven’s Moonlight Sonata.
Opening Scene: Rachel (pale, hair tucked under cap, vacant stare, head resting on table).

Boyfriend (cheerful): Babe, you look exhausted. You ready to go…want to grab some dinner? Rachel (dejected): I can’t. I’ve got to study.
Boyfriend (kindly): Well, are you hungry? Can I bring you something or do you want to eat later with friends?
Rachel (disheartened): Friends – that would be a no. I think they’ve given up on me. I’m sure they’re tired of the same response to every invitation - “Sorry, I’ve got to study.” Besides, I’m too tired to eat. I’ll just grab some cereal later. You go ahead – I’ll be here a few more hours. Boyfriend: Love you!
Voice over, Rachel to self (derisive): Of course…how could you resist such a lovable, fun, amusing, witty and interesting girlfriend? ... (fade to black)…

Scene Four

Setting: Library, mid-November; early evening; dark, only faint light from lamps. Desolate & lonely atmosphere.
Music: No music; dull, monotonous humming – think monks faintly chanting.
Opening Scene: Rachel (dazed, frowning, haggard, stressed, coughing) walking slowly, methodically, haltingly to study area – think “Dead Man Walking”).

As Rachel sits down, she realizes with horror that she is humming Miley Cyrus’ “The Climb.” She jumps up, grabs her laptop and bolts for the door. She knows she’s in serious trouble. She needs help…and she knows what she needs to do.
Cue music: theme from ”Gone with the Wind”
Voice over, Rachel to self: And I know what I’ll do – like Scarlett returning to Tara, I’ll go home where I can find comfort & sanity and shore up my strength. Thank God for Thanksgiving break … (fade to black)…

Is Rachel’s furlough a success? Is home a restorative tonic for her battered spirit? Or does her eccentric Southern family, a menagerie of unconventional characters, send her over the edge?

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

McGladrey Offices Across the US Win Sloan Flexibility Awards

It's always an honor to win even just one award for our workforce flexibility programs. It's even better when you win more than 30! That's right, 33 McGladrey Office Locations recently were honored with the Alfred B. Sloan Award for Business Excellence in Workplace Flexibility. In addition, McGladrey was also honored with the “Working Family Support Award” for our monthly WorkLife webinars. Individual McGladrey offices had the option of applying for the Sloan Award, and the winners included:
Bloomington,MN; Cedar Rapids, IA; Champaign, IL; Chicago, IL (both locations); Cleveland, OH; Dallas, TX, Davenport, IA; Deerfield, IL; Denver, CO; Des Moines, IA; Dubuque, IA; Elkhart, IN; Galesburg, IL; Iowa City, IA; Janesville, WI; Kansas City, MO; Madison, WI; Mason City, IA; Melbourne, FL; Milwaukee, WI; Minneapolis, MN; New York, NY; Omaha, NE; Peoria, IL; Phoenix, AZ; Rockford, IL; Schaumburg, IL; Springfield, IL; St. Louis, MO; Waterloo, IA

Quite a list, huh? The Sloan Awards are part of the “When Work Works” project, an ongoing initiative of Families and Work Institute, the Institute for a Competitive Workforce (an affiliate of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce) and the Twiga Foundation. These organizations provide research, resources and recognition to employers, thus creating effective and flexible workplaces that meet the needs of today’s workers.

Interested in working in one of these great offices? Many of them have jobs available right now. Visit and click on Careers Search to search and apply for jobs in these locations and others today!

Friday, November 6, 2009

My Shawshank Redemption - A Screenplay: Part 1

Hello, it’s Rachel again. Since the last time I was here I received my bachelor’s degree and am now working on my master’s and studying for the CPA Exam. It’s been an adventure juggling my studies and my life, and over the course of the next few weeks I’ll be sharing my experiences with you…in screenplay form….”My Shawshank Redemption”…whether by design or by fate, my Shawshank is grad school… (fade to black)….

”My Shawshank Redemption”

Scene One

bright, sunny day on ASU (Appalachian State Univ.) campus in late summer glory (green grass, beautiful flowers & trees blooming); birds chirping; lots of happy students. Lively & vibrant atmosphere.
Music: upbeat, fun, sexy – think Aerosmith’s “Walk This Way”
Opening scene (slow motion until phone rings): Rachel (happy & carefree; glowing from a healthy summer tan with sun-lightened hair blowing gently around & across smiling face – think Cover Girl commercial) walking across campus waving & chatting, answering cell phone as it rings incessantly:
1st call: “Hi Erin, that sounds fun, count me in.”
2nd call: “Hey Austin. Tonight, sure – how about 7:00.”
3rd call: “Hi Babe. Well, I need to study but I can be done in 2 hours.”
4th call: “Amanda! Lunch tomorrow works for me. See ya then.”
5th call: “Hi Megan. Sure but instead of the track, why don’t we hit a trail. Cool, I need a good workout today.”
6th call: “Seriously, Babe, a coed football team? Well, okay, I can do it – I need some fun.”

Good friend stops Rachel; they hug:
Friend: Hi Rach, how’s it going?
Rachel: Great. How about you?
Friend: Good, glad to be back here with my friends but dreading this semester – a ton of work.
Rachel: Yeah, I know what you mean.
Friend: That’s right - you’re in grad school. And don’t you have that big accounting exam…what’s it called - CPA? Wow, I hear that it is really grueling – maybe harder than the bar exam.
Rachel: Yeah, it’s pretty hard but I think I can handle it. After all, there are almost half-a-million CPAs in this country so, how hard can it be? … (fade to black)...

Scene Two

Setting: Library, mid-September; early afternoon, soft light filtering through windows. Peaceful & quiet atmosphere.
Music: Somber, subdued – think Gary Jules’ “Mad World.”
Opening Scene: Rachel (not-so-happy or carefree; tan long-faded; hair in ponytail; only a ghost of a smile when someone speaks – think Bella from “Twilight”) hunched over laptop, sighing, rubbing forehead, trying to subdue a headache; books & papers strewn in a 3-foot radius.

Friend: Hi, Rach, so this is where you hang out. I never see you anymore.
Rachel (apologetic): Yeah, I know. This is pretty much my home away from home…or maybe, my home is my home away from home. Well, anyway, if I’m not in class, I’m here.
Friend: Well, call me sometime when you’re free and we’ll get together.
Rachel (wistful): Sure.
Voice over, Rachel to self (mocking): Right. That won’t happen any time soon. I’ve got 2 research memos, 2 tests, 3 quizzes and project due in the next 5 days. Not to mention a job. Oh, yeah, and don’t forget studying for the hardest test on the face of this earth. To stay on track, I’ve got to cover 25 pages in 2 days – and I’ve just spend an hour on one page and I still don’t get it. What was I thinking – can’t be that hard with so many CPAs. Idiot! How did you manage to forget about an exam fail rate of 50+%? ... (fade to black)…

Is Rachel losing it? Is this the beginning of a downward spiral? Or has she simply studied too long without a break? Can she pull it together? Find out next week in Part 2 of "My Shawshank Redemption"

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

October Poll Result Recap

The results of the October Poll are in and thanks again to all of you who responded. Once again, you provided some interesting and revealing responses. Here's our take, and some follow-up questions for you:
  • The #1 resource or factor that influences you to pursue employment with a particular company by a large margin is Company Reputation (81%). Not a surprise, but is there something in particular that you look for when you investigate a company's reputation?
  • The #2 response was Company Size (50%). Do larger or smaller companies appeal to you, and why?
  • On-campus company presentations (35%). At least we know that our time (and your time) is well spent at these events! What kinds of presentations have you found to be particularly effective? What did the company do? Who presented? Was there a social element to the event? Let us know what really knocked your socks off.
  • After the first 3 resources or factors above, the drop off was quite significant. Next we can group together company-produced information, such as the company website (28%), company collateral (10%), and the company's social media sites (5%). We were disappointed of course in how the social media sites fared in this survey, but what are you really looking for when a company provides you resources to learn about them?
  • Finally, the influencers (Friends (21%), Professional Societies (12%), Teachers/Professors (11%), and Family (10%)) appeared to have the least influence. These results surprised me the most. Conventional wisdom and the current trends seem to suggest that the recommendations of influencers should be the greatest resource/factor in helping you decide on what company(s) to consider, certainly more influential than the information that a company provides about itself. What are your thoughts on why influencers might not be as influential as we may of thought.
There's a lot questions posed above, please don't think that you need to respond to them all. We would like your insight however as the results of this poll challenge some of the ideas around how we and many other companies look to market ourselves to you. Thanks again for voting in our poll and thanks in advance for any comments you leave to answer some of the questions posed above.