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October 1, 2023

Fired from national CPA firm; not sure what to do

I was terminated from a national CPA firm (not Big 4) last fall and was in the tax department. Prior to my termination, I had been with the firm for a year. Before getting fired, I had to take off two months from work for a medical reason, and when I returned I asked for accommodations to be able to continue working. However, after four months, they terminated my employment.

Because I only have a year of tax experience, I feel stuck trying to find another job, as most jobs are wanting at least 2 years of experience. Ideally I want to go corporate because the stress of working in a CPA firm (budgets, billable hour requirements, both at the same time) contributed to necessitating my medical leave, which I do not want to exacerbate in the future. However, it’s been 5 months since I was let go and I still have not been offered another position in tax. I also do not have my CPA license yet, but it is currently pending with my state board after getting a few more hours of experience working part-time.

Additionally, in the phone screens and interviews, I struggle to explain my termination. Although my senior said that I was getting relatively good reviews from the semi-annual performance reviews, I was terminated after being put on a PIP (which came before another “good” review). I have a hunch that my termination was partly because of my medical accommodations and leave, but I can’t exactly bring that up in an interview or phone screening.

I need some advice. Tax positions in my market are plentiful at the senior/manager level, but entry-level positions outside of a large CPA firm are difficult to find. What can I do to improve my standing in the market? How can I bring up my termination that doesn’t scare away prospective employers? Do I still have a chance at a career in corporate tax?

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