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Get Me the F*ck Out of Here: First Steps For Quitting Your Job In Public Accounting

Awkward office situation

A year ago, our contributor Megan Lewczyk (what the hell happened to her, anyway? Megan, send a smoke signal if you’re OK) wrote a field guide to quitting your job in public accounting. Unlike many of the articles we pour our hearts and souls into around here, it was well-received, and even after all this time it still gets a ton of eyeballs on it. I’m no data expert but based on my intermediate knowledge of the delicate inner workings of the Google machine, I can only deduce that its popularity means a lot of you are seeking greener pastures. Hell, I don’t need Google Analytics to tell me that, the entire basis of this website is how shitty public accounting can be.

So one early Monday afternoon not too long ago, I must have had too much coffee because I came up with the bright idea on our weekly editorial conference call to launch a short series on how to quit your job in public accounting and, more importantly, set yourself up for opportunities moving forward. That last bit is the important part. You don’t need a drawn-out guide on how to quit, you’ve got that down (if anything, you definitely know what not to do when quitting your public accounting job). It’s what comes after that is always a little scary since you don’t always know where you’ll land.

Over the next couple weeks, we’re going to break down the process step by step, which if I’ve calculated this correctly and don’t get too drunk and forget the point in the meantime, will culminate in accepting that dream job offer. Or any job offer. Whatever, it’s a step-by-step guide, that’s the goal here.

To get started, we’re going to look at first steps once you’ve come to the realization that your inner monologue has gone from the occasional “man, this job sucks” to a never-ending stream of “if I don’t get out of this hellhole I’m going to lose my mind.” When exactly this happens varies for everyone; I distinctly remember when it happened in my last job, down to the day of the week and the exact task my supervisor was undertaking when I realized how punchable his face was. Here’s the thing: it’s best to start on this process before you reach the point of wanting to punch your colleagues. So if those feelings of angst are starting to eat away at you and your nightly habit of drinking the pain away is starting to eat into your budget, now is the best time to take the first step. No, not getting sober, fuck that step. We’re talking about working on your résumé.

You don’t even have to decide you’re going to leave to take this step, just buffing up your résumé can be a great stress-reliever while you’re fighting back the urge to pour hot coffee on that chick in the cube next to you who never shuts up and draws out her S sounds too long like a snake with a lisp. Working on your résumé will not only distract you from the innumerable annoying things going down around you at all times, it’s also a necessary step if you’re going to progress through this process of getting the hell out of there.

For some people, résumé writing comes easy but I’m the first to admit: I’m a professional writer as well as a confirmed narcissist and even I struggle with this sometimes. So don’t be afraid to hire a service to do this for you, or at least to critique your work and offer suggestions. Or you can take the alternate cheaper route and ask Reddit to dissect your life’s work, people do that on /r/accounting all the time. Or hell, do both. Whatever, this isn’t an exact science.

If you’re still lost on this step, here’s some old ass advice from us on writing a grown-up résumé, whether you’re early in your career or looking to change your career trajectory in accounting. Here are some do’s and don’ts from that post if you’re too lazy (or busy working on your résumé) to click through:

  • DO not use run-on sentences or paragraphs.
  • DO list your performance rankings.
  • DO highlight accomplishments.
  • DO NOT use firm-specific acronyms.
  • DO NOT refer to yourself with “I” or “me.” This is your résumé.
  • DO list your clients as they are relevant to the employers you are applying to. If you are paranoid about this, use a description of your client.
  • DO NOT be paranoid – your clients will be discussed in interviews.
  • DO keep your punctuation consistent; end every bullet point with a period or do not – just don’t mix and match.
  • DO not use present tense when describing your previous employer experience: use past tense grammar.

If you’ve timed things correctly, you’ll have some time to work on this first step before moving on to the next: the job search. Question is, do you give notice first and then look? Or look, get an offer, and then jump? We’ll visit that in next week’s edition of Get Me the F*ck Out of Here. In the meantime, crack open GDocs and get to polishing up the turds you’ve collected over the last however many years or months of your miserable existence at your current gig. You got this.