For background, I am a Tax Senior in the satellite office of a large local public accounting firm (100-150 people). I have a Master's in Tax and a CPA and work in a pretty decently sized market – we've got all the Big 4, most of the other top 10 firms, and many similarly sized regional and local firms. I have cumulative 3 years of experience, 1 year as a Senior, and I think its been an interesting ride where I've been able to get good at basics and deal with some interesting complexities but I'm pretty sure its time to leave.
I've been looking to leave my firm for the last couple of months but my hopes to find a position in private industry appear to have been overly optimistic. As such, I am looking at upgrading to a Big 4 or similarly sized large national/international firm to buff my resume and give me improved skills/expertise on my next try, which I hope to do after 1-2 years of more grind.
A few thoughts I have been mulling over:
1) Big 4 vs. a Grant Thornton/McGladrey level firm? Big 4 would logically seem to be better from a resume POV in terms of going into industry. But would experience at the GT/McG level hurt my chances of jumping to private later?
2) Tax Senior vs. Experienced Associate? This is more of a Big 4 question as my firm appears to be a bit of a feeder into the GT/McG-tier firms. Going from a local firm to a Big 4 in one jump is a huge change and I will not dispute that. Since it might be harder for me if I insist on a Senior title, both in terms of nabbing an offer and actually doing and understanding the work, I'm thinking of losing the title and just trying to make out as a decent staff. Has anyone heard of someone doing this or have any thoughts to offer?
3) Does anyone ever successfully make the leap from smaller firm tax to private industry tax? Has anyone heard of this happening? Everyone I've heard at my firm that exits either gets laid off/fired and no one knows, leaves for a different/larger firm, or jumps to audit for better chances of jumping into general ledger/corporate accounting roles. I don't really hear much about small firm exit opportunities since this is a Big 4-focused site but I was wondering if anyone heard of something like that in their network.
I've been a lurker but I've enjoyed the articles and comments and would love to have some additional third-party feedback since this might influence a decent part of my future career/prospects. I apologize for the length but I wanted to provide a good understanding of my position and my questions. Please let me know if you'd like additional details and I'll try to provide as much as I can manage.
Thanks for reading and I appreciate any comments (and criticism) you guys have to offer!
PS: I'm only comparing Big 4 and GT/McG level because I'm trying to take all my options into account. Not sure I'd even get the Big 4 offer but better to plan for that eventuality rather than get the offer and be like a deer caught in the headlights, right?