Please ensure Javascript is enabled for purposes of website accessibility

Big 4 Recruiting Season: Career Fair Tips

Got a question for the career advice brain trust? Email us at [email protected].

Good afternoon, GC’ers. I’m going to be devoting posts to general campus recruiting advice this week. College students – listen up. Already-employed cohorts – chime in with your own advice. Today I’m going to cover Career Fairs, everyone’s favorite meat market.

Questions you should be ready for – “Did you submit your resume through Career Services? Did you submit our firm’s additional paperwork? When do you graduate? What office are you interested in? Will you be CPA eligible up graduation? What practice are you interested in?” If you know what practiced you’ sure to have your paperwork submitted through the necessary online means. Don’t know what you’re applying for? Read below…

Know what you’re applying for – Nothing worse than talking to a student who is, “Uhhhhhhh, you know, I’m open to anything.” To me, that means you are unfamiliar with my firm’s services and you’re standing in line like a lemming because you know it’s good for you. Do you homework ahead of time about what practice groups are being targeted on your campus. Here’s a hint – focus on the job posts that are on your Career Services site; this is what each firm is focused on and actively recruiting for from your particular school. Don’t see Transaction Advisory Services listed? Probably ain’t gonna happen.

Suit up – Take a piece of advice from Barney Stinson and rock a suit to the Fair. It doesn’t need to be an expensive suit; heck, it doesn’t even have to be yours. Personally, I’m not a fan of the trend of suits becoming the norm at career fairs but it is better to match your competition than to assume “different is better.” Accounting firms are not Google; they breed a conservative culture. Play along, at least until you have an offer.

In an effort to avoid this becoming an Esquire-like blog post, I’ll keep my suit advice simple.

Ladies: Make sure your blouse is comfortably but securely buttoned, and take the potential of taller recruiters (aka wandering eyes) into consideration. Also, avoid hot magenta or any other color that would be included in a pack of highlighters.

Gents: That Calvin Klein tag on the outside of your jacket’s left sleeve? Yeah, that’s supposed to come off. Also, be sure to open your pockets and jacket vents before going to the Fair. It’s always awkward to see a guy trying to stuff a business card into a sewn up pocket.

Relax. Don’t sweat it. – Really, I mean that. Few things are more repulsive than shaking the moist hand of an anxious student. It can get hot at career fairs, I know. You can do a couple of things to chill out if you have a sweating problem: 1) Hold you résumé folder in your left hand and keep your right hand out of your pocket. This will let your hand breathe. 2) Small talk the person next you – it will help both of you relax. 3) A good swipe of your right hand on the back of your leg when you know your turn is coming up is totally fair game.

Always mints, never gum – There’s a good chance you’ll have to wait in line at the Big 4 booths. As you’re waiting in the mass herd of people, pop a few Tic Tacs or mints (avoid Altoids – too strong). They’ll help you relax and will be gone before you start speaking to the recruiter.

Business cards = cheat sheets – Ask for business cards when you meet with the professionals at the career fair (note – if they don’t have any, just remember to get their name so you can take notes later). Generally speaking, they are alums from your school and are excited to be back on campus and they can be a great resource going forward. They will also be at other events, even as early as the same week as the career fair. In between visiting booths, take two minutes to scribble notes on the back of the business card to help you remember who they were. “Black hair.” “Red glasses.” “Talked about baking.” “Mentioned she was an Eagles fan.” Reviewing these cards prior to next week’s firm-sponsored social event on campus will help you remember the connections much better.

Find out when they’ll be back – The five minutes you spend with the recruiters and professionals at the career fairs are not enough to earn yourself an interview. It is imperative you make personal connections with members of each firm. Beta Alpha Psi presentations. Cheesy happy hour mixers. Whatever. Go, shake hands, and laugh at their jokes. Earn yourself an interview.

Remember your manners – Thank everyone for their time. As happy to be on campus as they may be, many of the professionals will put in hours for work back at their hotels later that night. It is not always easy for them to take time off from work to make the trips back, so have a little respect for their time and their neglected inboxes.

Have anything to add? Email us or leave your comments below.

Ernst & Young Toronto Invites Employees to Don Their ‘Best’ Denim This Summer

It’s not everyday we get news from north of the border, so it’s nice to see our Canadian friends reaching out to us. If you’re from the True North and have some gossip or other newsworthy items to share, send them our way. As for today’s news, we’ve been informed that Ernst & Young’s Toronto office has given the green light to their employees to rock half of the Canadian Tuxedo starting this Friday through Labor Day. Our tipster was quite excited about this since, “This is unheard of in Big 4 accounting firms in Toronto.”

Hi everyone,
If you watched my “[Toronto OMP] Korner” video from last week, you’ll know that the topic of Jeans Day was discussed.

I know many of you have been waiting for a few Jeans Days in the [Greater Toronto Area], so I’m pleased to share that there will be many opportunities for you to wear your best jeans to work over the summer months.

Starting this Friday, 20 May until 2 September, every Friday will be Jeans Day.

From time to time we’ll add a charity-challenge component to Jeans Day. However, for the most part, feel free to wear your best jeans to work on Friday just because.

Retaining a professional appearance is important to us — even when wearing jeans. Please — no rips or tears in your jeans, no t-shirts or running shoes either. If you’re seeing a client on a Friday, please wear your usual office attire.

Best regards,

[Toronto OMP]
Managing Partner, [Greater Toronto Area]

All the emphasis is the original, so you know when “best” is best, the Toronto brass means business. Per usual in these situations when you give an inch of denim, some people take a mile of looking like a complete slob, so please pass the warning on to the Toronto leadership.

Big 4 firms have a staunch pro-denim track record here in the States, as E&Y’s FSO was given a similar reprieve from the drabness of the business casual uniform last busy season and KPMG’s Summer Blast last year. It’s likely that you’ll be seeing more denim around the office the summer again this year but we’d be very interested in seeing pictures of some egregious vilolations. So if you fancy yourself a member of the fashion police and see a perpetrator, take a pic and send it our way.

KPMG Employee with Combination of Short-timer’s, Spring Fever Pushes the Dress Code Envelope

Last week’s unseasonably warm weather in New York had one KPMG employee – who had recently put in her notice – taking advantage of the pleasant temps to show off the gams. According to a conversation we overheard on Twitter:

To which someone responded:

This infraction, it’s our understanding, occurred at the friendly confines of 345 Park Ave. Now, anyone familiar with the House of Klynveld knows that shorts are definitely frowned upon, especially at 345 Park where backpacks are rumored to get the crook-eye. Showing this amount of flesh in the middle of February, in a staunchly business casual environment, is about as an awesome disregard for the dress code we’ve ever heard.

The most important question, however, remains unanswered: what kind of shorts? Are we talking boxers? Boy shorts? Daisy Dukes? We need a witness (or two or three) and pictures obviously get bonus points.

Senior Manager Needs Help Enforcing the Short Skirt Policy

Welcome to the one-more-week-until-a-half-day edition of “I’m an accountant and I need you to fix my problem.” In today’s edition, a senior manager has a new associate who is bouncing between firm-approved and firm-unapproved skirts. The extra skin has gotten some attention and the SM has already given the associate a vague warning. What’s next?

Caughte at work? Need advice on how to behave around a monarch? Looking at some jail time and need some ideas on how to spend your final days outside? Email us at [email protected] and we’ll make sure you’ll behavior is acceptable/memorable for your respective situation.

All right then, enough skirting the issue:

I am a Senior Audit Manger. “Danica” is a newly hired audit staff. I am not “Danica’s” mentor. Technically “Danica” is about average. Unfortunately, “Danica” wears skirts six to seven inches above the knee. The firm dress code is three inches above the knee.

When she interviewed and for her first two weeks her presentation was excellent, nicely tailored three inches above the knee or a pants suit, nice hair and make-up. I know this a not lack of knowledge or a lack of funds to purchase a work wardrobe. In week three, when the short skirts first appeared, I called her into my office explained that accounting was a conservative profession and regardless of what our clients wore they expected us to be dressed professionally. I also explained that it was just as important she dress conservatively in the office as she could be sent to a client at anytime and the partners form an opinion of her when she is in the office. I did not explicitly mention the length or her skirts. The following two weeks she dressed correctly again and I patted myself on the back for effectively counseling a nice young staff member.

Two weeks later the short skirts were back again. Since that time one client made a negative comment as “Danica” walked past the conference room. Two other staff have asked me if new staff received copies of the dress code.

We spent a lot of money putting her through training. I would like to salvage “Danica’s” career if I can. I personally like her. I don’t think it is too late. In a few months people would chalk it up to poor judgment by a new staff member; not much worse than posting drunken photos on their facebook page. If she corrected her dress between now and the end of Decmber, then I could staff her on my jobs during busy season. However, I don’t want to open the firm up to a discrimination lawsuit if she takes this the wrong way.

What if anything do I do next?

Dear Fashion Police,

Being a proponent of fantastic gams, this particular issue may cause our thoughts to drift but we understand that you have a problem and we’ll do our best to stay objective here.

Judging by the timing (short skirts are appearing every two weeks) it’s possible that the young lady’s wardrobe is of the size that the shorter hems are simply appearing in their usual spot of the attire rotation. Your sit-down in week three sounds a little ambiguous and it appears the associate’s did not get the point of your little chat.

The fact that others have noticed is cause for concern (unless the associate is campaigning) and it may be time for another chat. This time reference your firm’s dress code rather than explain that accountants are expected to “dress professionally.” Ask the associate if has questions and allow them to communicate their feelings on the situation. You need to avoid any confusion on situation, otherwise you’re just compounding the problem.

The risk of a discrimination lawsuit is minimal** based on the fact that you have an explicit policy that all employees must follow. Danica is a new associate and this is a blip on her career so nip this issue in the bud and everyone will move on quickly.

**DISCLAIMER: I’m not a lawyer but, come on. There’s a policy!