Ed. Note: Have a question for the Going Concern career advice brain trust? Email us at [email protected].
I’ve been a reader of GC for a while. Thank you for the great advice you posted throughout the years!
Hypothetical situation: I’m a tax senior in a big public accounting firm. I’m doing well but I wasn’t promoted to manager this year because promotion requires that I relocate to another region and my family can’t move. In this situation, what can I do to help advance my career? Should I patiently toil for another few years until a spot opens up in my region? It seems like jumping into industry without a “manager” title will set me back significantly. Going to a competitor to get promoted also seems unlikely because I haven’t proven myself to the new employer. Would I literally be sacrificing my career for family in this case?
I am a young woman starting her career in tax in a public accounting firm. I saw others going through situation and I see myself running into this situation in a few years. Just want to ask this question so I know what to expect ahead of time.
Thanks for your advice!
Dear Hypothetical Tax Senior,
At the end of the day, this is a personal issue for you and your family to sort through. However, I hope the following points (and the GC community) can help you in your decision.
Things to consider:
1. Your professional network. How closely do you work with employees in this hypothetical office? Will you be able to move there before being promoted? Chances are, your network there is limited, so you will have to connect with and establish your credibility with an entire new office. Combine this with balancing the new responsibilities of being a manager and helping your family adjust to a new home, and you could be facing a steep learning curve, both professionally and personally.
2. Seek advice. Talk to your mentors about this. Is this a regular issue in your office? Have others before you made been in a similar situation, and if so, what did they decide to do? Is this a one year issue or is the possibility of being promoted to manager a distant possibility?
3. Look around you. Not in the job market sense but in the “how top heavy is my practice?” sense. Are managers currently doing the work of staff members because there is not enough to go around at the top? Is HR hiring into your group or have things been stagnant for awhile? Has your office lost a deal of client work to competition?
4. Look around again. Now I mean in the job market. All things considered, you need to do what’s best for your family. In that, you should be weighing ALL options. Jumping ship without the manager title is not necessarily a Scarlett Letter; it is something that can be explained in an interview at the very least.
Welcome to the you-better-get-work-done-today-because-no-one-is-doing-shit-tomorrow edition of Accounting Career Emergencies. In today’s edition, an experienced Big 4 auditor has recently gotten the interest of a rival firm after just four months on the job. Does he risk a disloyal reputation if he jumps ship again?
Have a career question? Trying to deal with a troublesome co-worker? Concerned that your firm isn’t offering you enough chances to crush some Chardonnay at the office? Email us at [email protected] and we’ll attempt to find you a firm that isn’t full of teetotalers.
Back to our Judas-in-waiting:
Hi Going Concern,
I recently made the move to a Big 4 firm after completing two full years at the largest mid-size firm in the U.S. I was promoted to Senior right before I left my old firm but was offered a position as a Staff 2 (with a nominal increase in pay). I am in the middle of my third busy season (assurance) and I just got an e-mail from one of the other Big 4 firms I was in communication with when I was looking to split from my previous firm. The e-mail is describing an open position that they have in a client acceptance specialty group, based in the NJ office (I currently live and work in NY).
I have only been at my current firm for about four months – is it too early to contemplate considering the opportunity? Of course I would have to go through the whole interview process so this could be a moot point but I can’t help wondering if the move would be a bad idea? Would it limit my ability to work in the private sector later on? Would my résumé scream DISLOYAL? My main incentive would be a pay/title increase (opening is for a Senior position) and what I would hope would be a less stressful “busy season” but at this point I have no clue what to do.
Ship Jumper in NY
Dear Ship Jumper,
Simply put: when given an opportunity, I a big believer in making a run at it. I don’t see anything wrong with going through the interview process with your prospective firm and seeing where it leads. If you don’t get the job, what have you lost? The answer is “nothing,” and you won’t wonder whether or not you should have gone on that interview. I’m not really sure how you feel about being an auditor but joining a speciality group could be a nice change of pace.
Scenario B is that you land the gig and you’re worried about the appearance it will have on your résumé. First of all, you make it sound like you’re one of those bounders who jumps around because they hate every job they’ve ever had. Two years here; eighteen months here; six months here. If you end up going down that road, the answer is yes, that is a warning sign to potential employers. If this opportunity is really the direction you want to take your career, then there’s very little risk of that. In the future when discussing the brief stint to an interviewer (if they even ask), you’ll be able to explain it this way, “The opportunity came up and I went for it. I’ve been working in this group for X number of years and have enjoyed my time there. This is just another opportunity.”
I think future employers should be interested in someone who recognizes opportunity when they see it as opposed to someone who is content to sit back and wonder what might have been. This goes for aspects in your work, not just career moves. As long as your intentions and ambitions about this opportunity are sincere and not simply opportunistic, employers won’t be worried about the brief pit stop at your current firm.
Welcome to another MOANday edition of Accounting Career Emergencies. In today’s edition, a tax vet is looking to move into consulting with their current firm but in a new office. The current office wants this “star performer” to stick around for busy season but ultimately the decision lies with our hero, who is concerned about burning bridges if they jump before busy season starts. What’s a tax rockstar to do?