Please ensure Javascript is enabled for purposes of website accessibility

Three Pet Peeves to Avoid at Work

Happy MOANday, people. Back from the weekend and cranky to be here, today’s post is not supposed to come off as salty.

But it might. My (somewhat sincere) apologies.

Good intentions aside, our coworkers and their habits get to us; this should come as no surprise. It is inevitable – being surrounded by the same individuals for long periods of time – that we will not like everything about our coworkers. Listed below are few popular pet peeves that should be avoided:

Music – This is a catch-all for all aspects of music at work: listening to music without headphones; listening to music with both headphones; humming to your playlist; using red pencils as drum sticks and binders as snare drums. There are other people around. Grow up, Tommy Lee. Keep the air drumming restricted to your Rock Band parties.

Everything about food – Food in the fridge labeled “do not throw out”. Fish for lunch. There’s nothing wrong with bringing a hot lunch to work; but have some respect for the surrounding cubicles. Eat your tofu and bean curd in the same area you heated it up – your floor’s kitchenette.

Personal calls in public spaces – Early in my career my cubicle was adjacent to Lover Boy. Every day like clockwork Lover Boy would speak to his lady friend at 9am, 12:30pm, 3pm, and whenever he closed out for the day. Conversations were always predictable (“I’m eating the salami and Munster cheese sandwich you made me”) and oftentimes cases of TMI. The issue of over sharing on the phone is rooted in the fact that people are comfortable at work; more time during the week is spent in the office than at home. Because of that, people forget that there are strangers within earshot (we all know the person I’m referring to – feet up on the desk, recounting the cake at Aunt Thelma’s 60th birthday bash). Taking the time to find a quiet room or unused conference space to argue about unwarranted cell phone charges shows respect for your colleagues. A good rule of thumb is avoid having a conversation at your desk that you wouldn’t take while sitting next to your grandmother. If your grandmother wouldn’t want to hear it, neither do I.

Expand on these or share your own pet peeves below.

How Accountants Can Get the Salary They Want

I’ve always been a nerd.

Not a dork, a nerd. The financial services industry and its incredible economic influence (from tax structuring to secondary industries like cab drivers and event planners) has always interested me. So it should come as no surprise that I am an avid reader of the Wall Street Journal (I have the dual paper/online subscription…obviously).

There was an article in today’s edition that has to do with getting “the salary you want.” If only it was as easy as these five points. For what it’s worth, here’s my summary of, and input on, how these rules suggested guidelines if you are looking to transition out of public accounting:

Do your research – The article makes a point to research what current salary ranges at the potential place of employment could be.,, and are all mentioned. My advice – remember to do your research with grains of salt in easy reach. The greater number of employees that contribute their statistics will lead to a more accurate number. ( lists PwC’s “audit associate” salary average salary as $53,358. Is that accurate? You tell me.)

Don’t give out the first number – When you get beyond the confusion of that statement, you realize the article is referring to the pay day you would love to receive if given the job. My advice – Don’t give a number. Here’s exactly what you need to say if asked “what is your ideal salary:” “For me the role and opportunity is what is most important.”

Yes, that is a vague statement. But it is your recruiter’s job to fight for your salary; remember their pay day is dependent on yours.

Don’t lie – Listen to your mother. My advice – this is self-explanatory. Your current salary will be verified. Lying to your recruiter about anything – most notably salary and background check details – is a way to sever ties indefinitely.

Don’t take the first offer – The article goes back and forth about negotiating salaries, something that you won’t do if you use a recruiter. However, if you are not using a recruiter, I recommend reading this bit. My advice – People typically have two magic numbers in their head: 1) the salary they’ve dreamt of and 2) the number they really need to receive in order to commit to leaving. Be honest with your recruiter. They will fight for you, or they will talk you off the ledge of asinine expectations.

Once that’s locked in, go for other benefits – The article pretty much shoots itself in the kidney on this one. Read it. It’s 17 seconds you’ll never have back. My advice – consider the benefits part of your total compensation. More or less vacation days? Summer flex programs? Cheaper health benefits? Better 401k? List everything out and compare with your current situation. Due to fair employment practices, companies are usually hand-tied to offering equal employees different (or “better”) benefits.

That’s all I have. Oh and for the record, the difference between dorks and nerds is simple. Dorks read the Journal with coffee. Nerds read the Journal with scotch.

Decoding the Latest KPMG HR Talking Points

FINS published an interview with Bruce Pfau, KPMG’s vice chair of Human Resources, on Monday, with the topics ranging from, “getting a foot in the door, poaching amongst the Big Four, the firm’s push into environmental advice and its goal to capture the best and brightest on U.S. college campuses.”

You can read the entire interview here, but good luck understanding the HR-code served by Pfau. Calm your fears, you don’t need a Ouija board in order to understand the current state of the KPMG Kamp. Below is my best attempt to translate Bruce.

Kyle Stock: Can you provide a geneent hiring?
Bruce Pfau: Each year we hire a couple of thousand people from [college] campuses into our audit, tax and advisory practices. In addition to full-time people, we’re also hiring interns.

We’re also very focused on making sure that we’re keeping an eye on creating a diverse workforce compliment.

DWB – Yes, we’re still hiring. But hell, we have to. We’ve committed to interns and fulltime hires going forward multiple years. Remember when the bottom fell out in late 2008? Yeah, we already had 2010 kids signed up. Also, non-English speaking professionals help out with our diversity statistics; even H.R. has numbers targets. Have fun in that client meeting!

KS: It seems that some of these concentrations would favor certain geographies, are there any specific parts of the country where the firm is growing?
BP: You can pretty much gather from some of the areas of focus that there will be some geographic concentration. We have a gigantic financial footprint in New York, but that doesn’t mean we’re not hiring financial folks on the West coast as well. And we’re obviously beefing up in developing countries — in China, Southeast Asia, India.

DWB – Yes, I used the word “gigantic” to officially describe our position. PS – if you’re not in the gigantic New York market or the west coast, you’re dead weight. Expect cuts or consolidations in offices. Conversely, thank you to our folks in the Big Apple and the Silicon Valley for keeping our pants on these past 18-24 months. Your free Phil hat is in the mail.

KS: KPMG also recently hired the United Nations’ chief climate change expert, Yvo De Boer. Can we expect the firm to offer more environmental advice?
BP: We’re looking to expand our footprint in that area, not only in the standpoint of the firm’s commitment to being a good corporate citizen environmentally and having our own green efforts, but also to try to utilize some of his capabilities, knowledge and relationships to expand our business and gain higher visibility in that space globally — areas like carbon evaluation and emissions trading.

DWB – We finally moved away from paper audits, didn’t we?

KS: You recently hired a new partner in charge of campus recruiting, Stacy Sturgeon. Is the firm taking any new directions there?
BP: I don’t expect to see any major changes in our approach there. We’ve spent the last several years taking campus recruiting to a new level. We’ve redoubled our relationships there and did a variety of things to make sure that our message is getting across to the best and brightest students.

DWB – Hell no, we ain’t changing a thing. There will always be a slew of helicopter parents shoving their over-achieving children into an accounting career. Our traps are set. Fish. In. Barrels.

KS: Do you engage in recruiting via social media and has it proved to be valuable?
BP: Yes. Obviously, [we use] the electronic job-boards and things of that nature. The Facebook-type forums we’re obviously participating in as well, though I cannot say it has transformed our hiring at that level. It’s more of an incremental difference. Our hiring at the more junior level really has a lot to do with sustained relationships with students. Huge percentages of the people that we bring in from campus have done an interview with us. That’s the best social interaction that we can have [with them].

We believe that we’re a great place to build a career.

DWB – we always have and always will scour the’s of the world for tax and advisory talent. Audit is a lost cause. I don’t have a freakin’ clue about Facebook. My kids are on it. Our first year associates swear by it. Some of our managers think it’s suave to “friend” their staff. But just like everyone else in the universe, no here has figured out how to profit it from the networking site.

But newsflash – we interview kids on campus, not on Facebook. Most of them, that is. There’s a select group that have parents at important clients that we let into the KPMG Kamp for free. And do you like that last line about building a career? Yeah, I’m paid to say that.

KS: You mentioned culture, how is KPMG’s culture different from the other three of the Big Four?
BP: Our cultures are way more similar than they are different.

I strongly believe that we face the same challenges, we recruit the same kinds of individuals, we’re in the same business — there’s a lot that’s similar. Where we differ is in a few areas.

First, although all of the firms have a good record in this, I truly believe that our firm has a remarkable culture of corporate social responsibility and volunteerism. I think that that’s something that really is a little bit different at KPMG. I literally could go on and on about how our people have risen to the occasion in that area.

The second thing is the whole area of continuous learning and development. We want to differentiate ourselves as being a great place to build a career.

DWB – We’re all accountants; how different can we be? In terms of volunteerism, what other accounting firm stuffed bears instead of getting blitzed on light beers and chardonnay? That’s what I thought. Build a bear, build a career (I said it again!). Come on, this was a brilliant idea.

A brilliant idea that us partners are still paying for. $*%@.

Newsflash: Accounting Candidates Are Stalked

In what should come as no surprise, social media and its effect on the job market continues to be a conversational presser. The topic is often discussed by nobodies (like myself) in online environments like Twitter and blogs (here’s looking at you, GC), but as the topic shifts from the Wild West of the Internet blog-o-sphere and into dinner conversation circles, CNN is jumping on the topic.

CNN’s article expanded on a recent study by Microsoft that “found that 79 percent of United States hiring managers and job recruiters surveyed reviewed online information about job applicants. In fact, 70 percent of United States hiring managers in the study say they have rejected candidates based on what they found.”

You read that correctly – 79 percent of recruiters and hiring managers Google stalk their candidates. If this was a toothpaste study, that’d be 4 out of 5 dentists. Convincing, right?

As busy season winds down and the itch to test the job market becomes irresistible, what should you do? Many of the people interviewed in CNN’s piece changed their Facebook profile names to be something other than their first and last names. This is all fine and dandy except for the fact that profiles can still be searched by email address, employer and school networks, and geographical location. So yeah, switching your name from Jay Smith to Jay Tizzy is great until your recruiter types the email address on top of your resume into Facebook and finds your page.

What should you do? I covered the importance of Facebook etiquette a few weeks back (refresher can be found here), and I can’t stress how important it is to take advantage of their privacy settings. Once you set them accordingly you should test them out yourself. Log out of Facebook, Google yourself, and click on the search result that is for your public profile. What you’re able to see this way is exactly what your recruiter or potential new boss is limited to.

Pictures of last weekend’s rager? Probably not a good idea. Tighten up your security settings until you’re satisfied with how you’re represented online.