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Introvert Needs Help Conquering Recruiting Season

(Just for this week) Ed. note: Have a question for our team of smart-mouthed jerks? Struggling to find your place in this big scary world? Want us to hold your hair back while you puke? Whatever, email [email protected] and we’ll do our best to answer your question in the least offensive way possible (unless it’s a dumb question, in which case we will do our best to humiliate you in front of everyone to make ourselves feel better).

Today’s question is one that I’m sure a lot of you can relate to. Not me, of course, being the boisterous, life-of-the-party, attention whore Type A personality that I am. That’s why I enjoy covering accounting events, I am automatically the life of the party no matter hof it I’m feeling that particular day.

But we can’t all be obnoxiously on all the time. Like this reader, who reaches out to us, heart in hand, for some real advice on how to shine at those all important recruiting events and beyond:

As you probably know, recruiting season is going to start soon. I was hoping you could publish some advice on how to talk to recruiters and people who come to social events that the firms hold. I’ve already passed all four parts of the CPA exam and had a 3.9 in undergrad. I decided to do an internship with a Fortune 100 company between my undergrad and masters. I also have done a lot of volunteer work, outside activities, etc. I’m about to start my Masters of Accounting soon. While I’m not too worried about whether I will get an interview or not from accounting firms, I am a little shy when it comes to meeting new people but I’m not a socially inept. In addition, when I was going through recruiting last year, I felt like I (and all of the couple hundred Beta Alpha Psi other students at my school) was asking the same basic questions to everyone I met at these recruiting socials. These people must be bored to death answering the saying the same thing over and over again. What are some things I could ask them that would really peak their interest and stand out from the crowd? What are some things that one should definitely NOT mention during these socials?

Any advice would be much appreciated!


Shy Girl

First, Shy Girl, we wouldn’t be doing our job if we didn’t start this off by saying you picked the right career! Many of your colleagues are just as averse to social events as you are, if not more, so remember how low the bar is set next time you’re feeling awkward and out of place.

Second, those people probably are bored to death but that’s not your fault, it’s the profession’s. Let’s face it, there are only a dozen or so “event appropriate” discussion topics to cover at one of these clusterfuck socials; professional sports (a toss up as not everyone cares about sports), the weather, FASB pronouncements, news (touchy, you don’t want to talk about the latest serial killer to be executed in your state), trends in the profession (recruiters probably couldn’t care less), your work safe outside events… you get the idea.

Things you will want to avoid are pretty obvious: don’t get into political debates and actually, while you’re at it, try to appear fairly neutral when it comes to most current events so as to present yourself as “independent.” You can discuss the debt ceiling or elections or simplification of the tax code but do it in a politically-neutered manner and try to talk about other, more interesting things that you are passionate about like your volunteer work. When you talk about something you love doing or learning about – like, say, me talking about the Fed balance sheet at an AICPA Council dinner – people tend to be drawn into the conversation. Don’t nerd out and hold a group of interns hostage talking about the litter of puppies you single-handedly saved at the animal shelter but talking about things you enjoy doing will help you to come off as passionate about something.

Your credentials speak for themselves so don’t get too caught up in trying to be someone you’re not. Try not to ask recruiters how they feel about ________ (insert latest FASB pronouncement here), as no one gives a shit about that and it only makes you come off as a know-it-all. Listen to what they are saying and react accordingly; people really love it when you show them attention by actually tuning into the words they are saying.

Anyone else have some useful suggestions for her? Let it launch in the comments.

Can a McGladrey Associate Let Their Former Classmate Know That They Don’t Have What It Takes?

Welcome to the botched-BJ edition of Accounting Career Emergencies. In today’s edition, a first year at McGladrey doesn’t feel comfortable recommending his former college classmate for any openings at his firm. How does one handle breaking the news to the interested party that they don’t have what it takes?

Ever have trouble controlling yourself in an appropriate manner? Are you getting the sense that you’re being set up to fail? Ever feel like you’ve got enemies all around you? Email us at [email protected] and we’ll try to get you out of a bad situation.

Meanwhile, back in the land of punch and cake:

Hi there,

I’m a first-year at McGladrey. For the second time in the past month a former college classmate of mine has requested that I recommend him to the powers that be at our firm for any openings we may have.

I don’t think that either of these people would fit into a major public accounting firm either socially or in terms of talent. What is the appropriate etiquitte for this situation? I doubt I’m the only one.


Dear Natalie Fanboy,

I’d be really interested to hear why you think your former classmate wouldn’t fit in “socially or in terms of talent.” Do they still have trouble getting through Goodnight Moon? Does he/she have terrible body odor? Do their social skills border somewhere between “Did you look in the mirror before you left the house?” and “We can’t take you anywhere!”? These details would prove helpful.

I’ll move on. Most firms have an automated method of submitting referrals and I’d be shocked if McGladrey didn’t have something similar. If Mickey G’s does have a such a process, just throw your classmate’s résumé into the machine and it will get sorted out one way or another. If your suspicions are correct (i.e. your friend has no chance) then it’s likely nothing will happen.

If McGladrey doesn’t have such protocols in place and it is based on the ol’ résumé handoff, then A) Tell McG HR to get their shit together and B) simply explain to your friend what it’s like to work there before they start claiming this is their dream job. Is a career at McGladrey really what this person wants or did they recently come to the conclusion that clocking hours on PS3 won’t get them too far in life and they’ve go to do something?

The other thing you can do is impress upon your friend that you’re a first year associate and they barely let you have lunch, let alone recommend former classmates to TPTB at the firm. That is, the odds of anything happening are slim. If your he/she persists, explain what the expectations are (i.e. hours for the pay, other things that make it less-than desirable) and that people fail left and right. Basically, let this Mickey G wannabe know what kind of situation they’d be getting themselves into. This will allow you to indirectly present the reasons you don’t think this person might not fit in without explicitly pointing out their shortcomings.

Now, if they still are begging you to take their résumé, I don’t know why you wouldn’t just pass it along and see what happens. Hell, if they were to get hired, you might even get a bonus out of it. You got something against money?

Audit Room Etiquette: Three Faux Pas That Make Your Co-workers Hate You

Since we marked the countdown to the first SEC deadline of busy season yesterday, let’s tackle an important issue.

Sitting in close proximity of the same people day after day, night after night tends to wear on a person (and if you happen to be sleeping with them, it’s worse).

You start noticing the most mundane, yet painfully annoying habits of your fellow auditors and they can drive you up the boringly-beige wall. Pretty soon, assault and battery seems like your only course of action. We ask that you refrain from beat downs (it’s just not considered good professional to batter your co-workers these days), but it is, of course, your God-given right to gripe about it and share your gripes behind the offending co-workers’ back.

But before you get too high and mighty, are you absolutely sure you’re not one of the annoying ones? We consulted another former audit room survivor, DWB, and no one is immune. In order to make you more aware of your personal, er, shortcomings, we’ve assembled this handly list of the most common bad habits that occur in the audit room:

Eating – You either eat food that makes the entire room reek or you happen to simultaneously masticate and opine on recent accounting developments. Trying to burp quietly is an act in futility and don’t react to your food like it’s sexually stimulating (even if it is). All of these make you terrible to be around.

Personal phone calls – You know that guy that takes three phone calls from his girlfriend every single day at the exact same time? Or you happen to call your mother every day to shoot the breeze for 45 minutes. Oh, that’s you? Well, not only are you shamefully whipped and/or dependent you’re annoying the hell out of everyone else within earshot.

Humming, whistling and/or singing – For the love of God, why on Earth is necessary to audibly hum a tune that you’re making up in your head? Furthermore, why would you put words to it? You’re an auditor, not Andrew Lloyd Webber. (And no, it’s not OK if the tune is actually one of Mr Lloyd Webber’s compositions – actually that might be worse.)

Now for those of you that simply think that a set of headphones will solve all these problems, we regret to inform you you’re gravely mistaken. Once these habits have saturated a person’s psyche, any movement, otherwise normal, will amplify the inner wrath to deistic proportions.

The above list is by no means all-inclusive and we’ll admit that our tolerance for bad human behavior is lower than most but the issue is important enough to warrant discussion and possible solutions.