As accounting firms dig deep into their pockets to raise starting salaries and the profession’s biggest
egos brains figure out new and exciting ways to ease the accountant shortage, there are things that you, as an accountant, can do right now to make a difference. Although it may not feel like you can make a difference, in the aggregate all of you operating as a unit can move the needle and in turn illuminate the path to accounting as a promising career full of okay-ish earning potential and maybe some cool technology somewhere down the line.
Ready to make a difference? Here’s what to do.
Go to schools and tell them about what you do
Remember back when you were in kindergarten the teacher went around the room and asked everyone to say what they wanted to be when they grew up? If we all stuck to that, the world would have a surplus of firemen and princesses so obviously very few of us actually became what we said we would. Besides, five-year-olds don’t know what accounting is anyway, it’s not like they’d say they want to be one unless they have a parent or cool aunt to refer to. What if you could plant a seed and be the first to tell the next generation what accounting is and why it’s so cool?
Your state society of CPAs is a good place to start if you want to get involved on the ground.
On second thought, don’t
You know what, I just realized something. Most of you are miserable, and kids aren’t going to think your job is cool when it’s competing with fighting fires, arresting bad guys, and providing life-saving medical care to sick people. So let’s hold off on visiting schools for a minute and get further down the list.
Two words: conspicuous consumption
Here is where you can have tremendous impact, though you may not like what it will take. I know you are pretty frugal — you’ve gotta be on that salary — and we’ve all seen the accounting firm parking lots packed with modest sedans, some so old a CD player was considered top-of-the-line luxury when it rolled off the assembly line floor. Well that needs to stop. It’s time to live the American Dream like you always wanted and get that credit utilization rate up.
How about some Ski-Doos? A couple Teslas in the driveway? A huge, beige McMansion with twice as many garages as you actually need?
Whatever the frivolous extravagance, go for it. Just make sure other people can see it. Tell people you and the whole family go to Disney twice a year, everyone knows those Disney vacations are $$$ and it will reflect doubly well on the profession if people think you can A) afford them and B) have the time to take them. Win-win.
As a woman, there’s nothing I hate more than a stranger telling me to smile so it pains me to say this but why don’t you smile, sweetheart? You’d be so much prettier if you did.
Let’s see those big Black Hole Sun smiles. You LOVE your job! You LOVE your life! You LOVE the Ski-Doos you can’t afford!
Be that obnoxiously happy person who spreads joy wherever they go. You’ll be a walking billboard for your career, everyone you meet will want to know what your secret is. They won’t ask though, they’ll assume you day drink and give you a wide berth.
Immediately stop dressing like that
Far be it from me to give anyone fashion advice but I’m not representing accountants, I’m representing people who write about accountants and we’re a segment of the population that is utterly hopeless when it comes to fashion (Dan Hood if you’re reading this I’m sorry). YOU, on the other hand, are representing accountants and for the good of the profession you need to level up your gear.
If you are going to head out into the world and evangelize accounting, you need some better threads. It doesn’t take much, just a few sharp basics will do. Maybe we can get KPMG to organize a profession-wide Dress For Success fashion show like they used to do for the interns, sponsored by Armani.
Stop getting your nice dress shoes from the outlet mall and start paying full retail! Remember, this is all about optics. A new pricey briefcase or handbag wouldn’t be a bad idea either.
You are giving accountant. You need to be giving investment banker.
Keep your whining to yourself
You know why there wasn’t a pipeline problem 15 years ago? The real reason is because the economy was falling apart and accounting was and always will be a “safe” place to be when the economy goes bad but for the purposes of this article things all fell apart because of the internet. Twenty years ago you had to dig through obscure forums and message boards to find out the truth about the accounting profession, now you just open up r/accounting and it’s all miserable people making memes to distract themselves from their miserable lives. It’s too transparent now. Students can “do their research” and figure out the juice isn’t worth the squeeze in a matter of clicks.
Not a ringing endorsement, is it?
We’ve made the misery too accessible. And that’s got to be the problem, not the misery itself.
While we’re on the subject, can you guys please stop talking about how many hours you work? Keep that between you and your timesheets.
Stop telling people, especially the internet, how much you make
This one is related to “no whining” but it’s different because it’s not the whining that’s scaring young people away so much as the salaries. Effective immediately I’m gonna need everybody to stop posting your salaries. Let’s go back to the olden days when it was considered poor form to tell people what you make. Let your crippling credit card debt speak for itself.
Together we can make a difference.
Clearly all of this is a joke except the high school part, you can and should go do that if you want. Just wear nice shoes.