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Recruiting Season: Be Wary of Accounting Firms ‘Looking for a Fit’

And then Jesse said, "YO! MR. WHITE! LOOK OUT!" 

Hahaha. No, no he didn't. But here's something interesting not related to Breaking Bad that we read on Twitter this morning: 

I know a lot of you immediately dismiss anything Francine McKenna says or writes, but if a person attempts to think about the message firms on campus are reciting rather than desperately trying to say and do all the right things, hearing a recruiter mention the "right fit" or "team players" should get you to reflect on what kind of employee they're looking for. It will vary from firm to firm and office to office, but any firm looking for recruits to "fit in" should be a warning sign. 

If you just want a job that pays well and don't mind conforming to rigid expectations and culture, then this shouldn't concern you. However, if you get the sense that a firm's culture doesn't differ that much from a prime time teen drama and that's something you want to avoid, then yeah, Francine's suggestion to "walk away" is solid advice. 

The "patsy rogues" she mentions isn't something you'll experience in a LHO kind of way insofar as it will be a "just following orders" sort of way. We've said it many times before, but the large accounting firms recruiting on campus this fall will say a lot about "future leaders" and "people who aren't afraid speak up" and "ask questions" but that's lip service. Recruits who "fit" and who can be "team players" are what they want because it'll keep the well-oiled machine chugging along. It allows the brand of their firm to stay intact while the worsdsmiths in marketing research the buzziest phrase for the future to keep their competitive edge in this "war for talent." Let other firms experiment with boat rockers and contrarians, the big firms like things just the way they are and have the name recognition and influence to keep it all in line.

Plus, "fit" is a big and convenient bucket for rejecting people who appear to be ideal candidates but are too ambitious, too outspoken, hell, too smart, to fit into a large accounting firm's culture. These people sneak through regularly but it doesn't take long for them to discover that their kind isn't welcome for overextended visits. They get counseled out or move on.

And please do not mistake being a "team player" with being able to "work on a team." Team players smile and nod; working on a team means not accepting BS like "we've always done it this way" or using bureaucracy as an excuse for the status quo. "Fitting in" and being a "team player" is the last thing you should want to do at your job and it should be the last attribute any accounting firm should be looking for in a candidate. 

As a recruit, you have options; don't settle for firm that wants more of the people they already have. You'll quickly find out that you're easily replaceable.