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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.