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.

1 comment:

Kerry Noone said...

I think you summed it up pretty well by saying it all comes back to networking. Not being afraid to reach out to companies who give you access is an important part of networking - great blog post.