Thursday, December 27, 2007

Follow Ups Are Key

Conventional wisdom says you should always follow up with prospective employers after you've sent them a resume or met them for an interview. But many candidates find such tactics fruitless: Either they receive no response from their actual contact, or find no way to reach a live human being. We asked Dawn Fay, a New York vice president for recruiter Robert Half International, how best to proceed.

Read the conversation here.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Juggling Work and Hunting

If you're one of those people who is always in the office, you have to come up with ways to get away for the occasional job interview - without calling in sick when you're not, for example. Here's a great little piece from The Wall Street Journal about looking for a new job while being responsible to your old one.

The Trick to Finding A New Job Without Losing the Old One

Friday, December 21, 2007

You Can Drown in Water That's 1 Inch Deep, on Average

Employee confidence looks to end 2007 at a record low among both accounting and finance workers and the overall U.S. population, according to one widely followed monthly survey. But connoisseurs of rear-view-mirror driving can take comfort from this: averaged throughout the first 11 months of 2007, the monthly Hudson Employment Index slightly exceeded the monthly average for 2006.

Read the full story.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

More Risk Opportunities for N.Y. Area CPAs

Management accountants in the New York metropolitan area are finding increasing opportunities in the burgeoning field of enterprise risk management. But the jobs require the right combination of technical, financial, industry, and managerial savvy.

Read the full story.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

See Your Future Job at GigZig

Today, you’re a lowly accounting assistant earning $32,000, what will you be in five years? Chances are you’ll be a staff accountant earning $41,557, according to a fun new tool called GigZig launched by PayScale.

Put in your job today and GigZig shows you what people with your job are typically doing five years later. It also shows you what different proportions of them were doing five years ago (which is amusing but not really relevant because who cares what everyone with your position was doing five years ago).

You can also use GigZig to play some “What If” games. Suppose you’re a staff accountant now (median salary $41,557). If you earn your CPA, your salary will rocket to $58,118 and five years from now, you’re most likely to be a controller ($76,481) or a CFO ($120,150). Skip the CPA and you’re most likely to be a senior accountant ($54,819) or an accounting manager ($56,920).

When you tire of looking at accounting positions, you can start checking up on your siblings career choices so you have something to chat about next week at holiday gatherings.

I don’t think I’ll tell my little sister that despite her brilliant performance as “Woman eating BLT and onion rings in the diner” (scheduled to air on General Hospital the day after Christmas!!) five years from now, she’s just as likely to be a teacher, an office admin, a receptionist or a customer service representative as she is to still be an actress.

If I did that, she might, in turn, point out that GigZig is unable to determine the future for bloggers.

Introverted? Consider Accounting and Auditing...

Opportunities for accountants and auditors are expected to grow more than 22 percent between now and 2014, which may be good news for people who want to strike a balance between working with others and working alone.

The economy's shift toward service industries is making it more difficult for people who prefer to work by themselves to find jobs that suit them, says Laurence Shatkin, Ph.D., who co-authored the book 200 Best Jobs for Introverts. "Chances to work alone will become more scarce," he says. "Even jobs in manufacturing are increasingly being done by teams of workers."

Nearly a quarter of the U.S. population are considered introverts, whom Shatkin describes as people who often "prefer to work alone, in the quiet, and free of distractions." He and his co-authors - the editors of the career-publishing firm JIST - based their rankings for the book on a measure of how much interaction is required for each job.

However, Lynne Goldman, a Pennsylvania-based organizational psychologist who specializes in the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator, thinks the book's selection process may have been a bit extreme. (Myers-Briggs, test that identifies certain psychological differences and preferences, is used by many businesses.) "Introverts can be extroverted very well, it just depletes their energy faster than it does for extroverts, who get charged by interacting with people and things," she says. "So introverts would prefer jobs that have a greater balance between quiet work and interaction. They are fine working on teams, as long as the extroverts give them a few moments to collect their thoughts, and contribute."

Besides accountants and auditors, the top jobs for introverts include personal financial advisors - which comes as something of a surprise, given the contact the job requires with clients; real estate appraisers and assessors; and actuaries.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

It's About My Career, Stupid

The class of 2008's business majors seemed more focused on where their careers might take them rather than how much they'll receive in their first pay packet. A survey of 2,400 college students by KPMG found the top consideration for 57 percent of job-seeking accounting students is career opportunities.

Dona DeZube writes:
A scant 12 percent of the students said salary and benefits packages would be their primary consideration in selecting an employer. But that may be because the salaries offered students fall in a tight range.
And, some bits that we didn't make it into the story itself, but are still interesting:
About 22 percent said work-life balance was their primary consideration in selecting an employer. Despite the accounting scandals of recent years, only 9 percent picked "employer's reputation" as the primary consideration in their job search.

Other perks popular with the surveyed students:
  • An active mentoring program: 23 percent;
  • Availability of flexible work schedules 32 percent;
  • Support of employee volunteerism/philanthropy;
  • Ability to travel/relocate internationally 17 percent and
  • Generous benefit package 24 percent.
Read the full story.

Branch to Lead Deloitte's Atlanta Practice

Some details about the new head of Deloitte's Atlanta/Birmingham practice, J. Bradford Branch. He's succeeding Guy Budinscak, who's been named vice chairman and senior advisory partner.

A 30-year veteran of Deloitte, Branch was the regional managing director for Deloitte Consulting in the Southeast region and managing director of Deloitte Consulting's Atlanta office.

Since joining the firm in Atlanta in 1978, Branch worked with clients in the telecommunications and utility industries, and helped create the firm's telecommunications and media practice. In 1998 he became the European practice director for Deloitte Consulting's telecommunications and media practice. By 2000, he was the its s global practice director. He returned to the U.S. in 2004 to take up his posts in Atlanta.

He received his undergraduate degree from the University of North Carolina, and his MBA from UNC's Keenan-Flagler Business School. He's involved with several community organizations in Atlanta, including the Woodruff Arts Center and the High Museum of Art. He's also a Teaching Fellow on strategy, economy and public policy matters at the London Business School.

Ramey Heads PKF Texas Internal Audit Group

Dan Ramey joined Houston's Pannell Kerr Forster of Texas, aka PKF Texas, as a director and head of the internal audit group. Previously, he was worked on SOX 404 compliance projects in a number of industries and undertaken enterprise risk assessments, internal control reviews, fraud investigations, and financial due diligence and integration work. He's a CPA, CIA, CITP, and CFE.

Monday, December 17, 2007

New Requirements Move Forward in Pa.

Pennsylvania's Senate has approved a bill raising the education requirements for accountants who want to become certified there. The bill, which now goes to the commonwealth's House of Representatives, incorporates the national “substantial equivalency” provision, which allows CPAs to practice in other states without having to apply for additional licenses. The Pennsylvania Institute of Certified Public Accountants points out that the requirement means CPA candidates would have to complete at least 150 semester hours of post-secondary education before receiving their certification, beginning in 2012. Currently, 48 of the 55 licensing jurisdictions have this requirement.

Senate Unanimously Approves PICPA’s CPA Law Bill [PICPA]
(And if you really want to read the bill, click here.)

Friday, December 14, 2007

Job Detective

Sometimes, a little change in perspective can make a world of difference.

A release from career book publishers JIST suggests you think of yourself as a job detective and search out clues about exactly what a company needs.

Investigate everything, says Jim Bright, Ph.D. and Joanne Earl, Ph.D., psychologists and authors of Amazing Resumes. "Learn more about companies that interest you. Gather annual reports, company brochures, trade magazines and industry directories. Use this information to develop a strategy for approaching the employer and to be well-equipped when entering the company’s hiring system," the release suggests (read the whole thing here.) Once you've got that information, you use it to form the answer to the single most important question in job searching: What's in it for Them - or as JIST refers to it: WIIFT? A great interview is one where you can discuss the ways you're going to solve a company's challenges.

JIST has published many great career books - Resume Magic, Cover Letter Magic, The Quick Resume & Cover Letter Book - but my personal favorite title in the JIST line is Jist's Putting the Bars Behind You: Instructor's Resource Manual.

Needed: Job Detective [JIST]

Thursday, December 13, 2007

How Promoting Women Pays Off

Talk as they might about retention and progressiveness, accounting firms in Britain aren't doing a particularly good job at promoting women. "(T)here are as many women as men within accountancy, but few attain partnership status. And within the Big Four, female partnership appointments have dropped by a third in the past year," writes Paul Bibby in Accountancy Age.

That's too bad, because having more diversity in the management and executive ranks seems to have a positive impact on company performance, he says.

New research from strategy consulting firm McKinsey has found a direct link between company results and women at the top, and has unearthed evidence of better than average financial performance by European companies with the highest proportion of women in influential leadership roles.

Across the pond, US research body Catalyst has found that Fortune 500 companies with the highest proportion of female directors are more profitable and efficient than those with the lowest.

His conclusion:

Accountancy firms may have done much to promote the ethos of diversity and equal opportunities. However, if this is not translated into more female partners, the annual haemorrhage of newly qualified accountants to other sectors is likely to increase.

Those firms that provide the support and opportunity for women to effectively climb the partnership ladder will be the ones that will ultimately win the war for talent.

Moving forward: women on top [Accountancy Age]

Two Words, Ben. Just Two Words: "Hedge Funds."

Battling a well-publicized talent shortage, both corporate America and the Big Four are touting career opportunities for young accountants. Now, the hedge fund industry is trawling for accountants too, and the pay is better - a lot better.

Read the full story.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Another Wrinkle for Smaller Companies

It's no surprise that CFOs at small public companies - the ones who come under the microscope of Sarbanes-Oxley this weekend - are sweating under the glass. They've had to struggle with changing guidance, high bills from outside auditors, and a dearth of candidates for the jobs they need filled in order for their accounting departments to keep pace with truckloads of new work that comes along with compliance. Not only that, some CFOs are worrying about the impact the increased overhead will have on their competitiveness.

John Fodera, a partner at New York-based accounting firm Eisner, seems unmoved by that last argument. He told Financial Week:
that Section 404 is pushing public companies to place the proper level of resources - manpower in this case - into their accounting departments to deal with such issues as transparency and tax compliance. “Over the years,” he argued, “accounting departments have been a bit leaner than they have needed to be.”
But Christian Dufresne, CFO and treasurer of Spire Corp., a $20 million electronics maker, notes that finding candidates who understand auditing and can set up proper controls is a challenge unto itself:
“It’s hard enough to find one guy, and I have to have a couple,” Mr. Dufresne lamented. “Adding two or three people is a drag on cash flow, and it makes your business less profitable.”
Like other companies, Spire has centralized its business operations as it prepares to operate under SOX 404, which among other things requires company executives to certify the internal controls in place to ensure their financial reporting is accurate.

That centralization can't be helping CFOs in their quest to find accountants to join their companies. It's removing some of the flexibility they might have had when they could post professionals at different locations. It's not a huge deal, but it's one of those details that makes a tough challenge tougher.

SarbOx writ small: Newbies struggle
[Financial Week]

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Staying Afloat While Switching Careers

Guidance with career transitions is a staple of the career advice business. For many switchers, however, one of the highest hurdles has nothing to do with jobs or skills; it is simply how to survive – as in, meet your essential living expenses - while going through the transition.

New York Times columnist Marci Alboher relays some helpful tips this week, through a Q&A interview with financial adviser and writer Jean Chatzky. Her advice is equally applicable to individuals aiming to launch their own business, or those planning a career shift.

In a nutshell, Chatzky recommends practicing frugal living long before leaving your current job (so the shock to your lifestyle won't be so great when you do), making a habit of saving, and keeping some form of health coverage to escape pauperization in case you're hospitalized while out of work. There are also tips about where and how to seek credit for a new venture.

Finding the Money to Move Out and Up [New York Times]

Grant Thornton Acquires Pa. Consulting Group

Three partners and 50 professionals from GR Consulting have joined Grant Thornton after the accounting firm purchased the consulting unit of Goldenberg Rosenthal. Managing Partner Mike Rose is among the movers. With the acquisition, Grant Thornton now has about 225 people in the Philadelphia region. (GR is based in suburban Jenkintown, Pa., though Rick Gebert, Grant Thornton's managing partner in Philadelphia, told the Philadelphia Business Journal his plan is to ultimately move the group into the city.
Gebert said the skill sets of the GR Consulting professionals will fit nicely with Grant Thornton's focus on clients with between $100 million and $2 billion in revenue, as well as add deeper representation of industries such as health care and financial services. He said the GR Consulting professionals have particularly deep skills in areas such as governance and risk management, internal audit, operations improvement and information technology.
As for Goldenberg Rosenthal itself, Managing Partner Jay Weinstein said because GR Consulting operated independently and with a different client base, its departure should have no impact on its former parent.

Grant Thornton buys Goldenberg Rosenthal's consulting group [Phila. Business Journal]

Big Four Diversity Programs: A Wrap-Up

The Big Four initiated diversity programs before much of the finance world. But just what do those efforts consist of today? In recent interviews, the firms offered up details of their current programs. Here's what we found.

Read the full story.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Reality Check, Anyone?

Well, you may not want to hear this, but some headhunters call accountants "potted plants." The reason: You don't switch jobs very often. In fact, there's a perception in many quarters that accountants tend to stay at the same place because however uncomfortable the frying pan is, it's just got to beat the fire.

So imagine our surprise when our poll asking "How much career risk are you comfortable with?” got these results:
  • I would change jobs without looking back - 39%
  • If I see a good job, I go for it - 43%
  • I am often looking for another job - 11%
  • I look at job ads, but am afraid of getting caught - 8%
Better than 80 percent would change jobs easily? Really? I'm feeling like I'm being tweaked. If so many people will jump, how come so few accountants seem to be jumping?

Friday, December 07, 2007

Healthy Salary Outlook in California

James Rubin says Robert Half Finance & Accounting's annual salary survey offers cautiously optimistic news about the job market for accountants in California. Over the next year, Half expects demand for many positions to remain strong and salaries to increase at a healthy rate. It holds true for other financial professionals, as well.

The recruiter predicts controller, senior finance analysts and account managers will be among the hottest jobs in Los Angeles, San Diego, Sacramento, San Jose and Orange County. A controller can expect to earn 4 - 5 percent more next year than in 2007. "There has been an accounting shortage for these positions," says Brett Good, Half's district president for California and Arizona. "That remains a pressure point for skills sets in the marketplace."

The crisis in the sub-prime mortgage market may further boost demand both in California - and beyond - as governmental agencies consider regulations to prevent a re-occurrence. Good sees similarities to the aftermath of corporate scandals of five or six years ago that led to passage of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act in 2001. "There are rumblings from a regulatory standpoint," he says.

As such, skilled controllers - who have initial oversight over auditing and similar functions - may play a particularly important role in upcoming months.

Focusing on 'Special Needs' Families

Some California accountants believe they don't have many options when it comes to what industries or areas they cover. But a few have broadened the playing field by creating practices around their own outside interests or causes.

Take Pasadena-based Regina Levy, who's made a business out of helping families with special needs children understand how they can secure treatment and what they can write off. In some cases, that's helped them save tens of thousands of dollars.

Read the full story.

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Scholarships in Virginia

The Virginia Society of CPAs Educational Foundation is offering three new scholarships of $2,500 each for the 2008 - 2009 academic year. (These are in addition to the more than $25,000 in scholarships the foundation already awards.) Applications are due Jan. 10, 2008. Details are here.

Finance Staffers Glum, But CFOs Plan Hiring

Two surveys show different views of the job market: While accounting and finance staffers are increasingly nervous about it, CFOs plan to keep hiring.

Read the full story.

NABA Names Executive Director

The National Association of Black Accountants named Gregory Johnson, CPA, as its executive director.

He comes from Grant Thornton International, where he's been director of quality control since 2006. He's also worked at the AICPA as, among other things, manager of minority initiatives and director of CPA Examination Strategy.

National Association of Black Accountants, Inc. Names New Executive Director [NABA - PDF]

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Positioning Your Online Self

Chris Russell talks about using Facebook in your job hunt. His main point:
Job hunting these days is all about being found online and creating a digital profile for employers to find you. Most companies are now researching candidates before and after the interview so it's in your best interest to give them something positive to read. With millions of you now on Facebook, its a good idea to refine your digital trial.
He gets into the importance of participating in appropriate interest groups and using add-ons that can help in your search. And, of course, there's the importance of good networking - which in the online world means having the right "friends."

Facebook, it turns out, has a bunch of networks that show up when you search on "accounting" or "CPAs," though I haven't gone through all of them. On LinkedIn, which doesn't have networks beyond your own, plenty of accountants are around if you search on those keywords. MySpace says it has 622 members of its accounting network.

Of course, you should bear in mind people you might want to work for may well look at your online profile. Proceed accordingly.

Tips to job hunt with Facebook
[Secrets of the Job Hunt]

N.Y. Area Litigation Experts in Demand

Area CPAs acting as litigation experts are enjoying prosperity as New York and New Jersey accounting firms and corporations lean more heavily on their specialized skills.

Considering the increasing regulation and financial responsibilities corporations and accounting firms face, it isn't any wonder having legal expertise can pay off for CPAs. Between the number of banks, investment companies and CPA firms in the New York and New Jersey region, the growing litigiousness of business, and the shakeups underway in the financial industry, the area's litigation specialists are under considerable demand.

Read the full story.

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Which Way Does YOUR Head Tilt?

Tonya Reiman has written a book about body language, and she says simple things can say alot about you. "Most people are completely unaware of what their bodies are telling others and how it ends up influencing their careers and love lives," she told the Boston Globe.

Reiman said some of the worst body language flaws in the corporate arena are easily fixed: Getting into others' personal space, slumping onto a chair instead of sitting up straight, not enough or too much eye contact, looking angry, adjusting clothes during the interview, or, perhaps, a woman adjusting her panty hose.

And what about that head tilt?

"If you are going for a job in accounting, law, medicine, or another field bound by a strict code of ethics, tilt your head to the right," she said. "Trying to become America's Next Top Model? Tilt to the left."
Gesture your way up the corporate ladder [Boston Globe]

Lingerie After Accounting

The winner of the Drapers Award for best lingerie retailer in the United Kingdom is Boudiche, an Edinburgh business opened by two former accountants, Clare Thommen and Fiona McLean.

Clare, 29, and Fiona, 32, were having an after-work drink which led to a discussion about their dreams. They then hatched a plan to leave their jobs and created Boudiche.

Clare said: "We worked together as finance managers and one day after work, while having a drink, we joked about what we'd be doing in five years.

"We both said we'd like to have our own business and we had the same dream of running a lingerie boutique. It seemed like fate."

The next day the pair met to draw up a business plan and after winning financial help, they opened the doors of Boudiche 10 months later.

Scots Girls Who Are Queens Of The Undieworld [Daily Record]

Matchmaker, Matchmaker, Get Me a Job

Fiddler on the Roof had Yenta, the matchmaker. The corporate world has recruiters. Same principle, slightly different parameters. But if you want to find a job you love, developing a relationship with a recruiter, says Heidrick and Struggles' Michele Heid, "is a phenomenal idea."

Read the full story.

Monday, December 03, 2007

Retention and You

There's an interesting exchange about employee retention on The Wall Street Journal's Small Business area. Mark Wilson, president and chief executive of telemarketing company Ryla Teleservices and Tom Gimbel, CEO of recruiting firm the LaSalle Network, were guest moderators of a reader forum about ways small companies keep their employees.

Yes, I know telemarketing and recruiting don't have tons to do with accounting (though LaSalle does have an accounting and finance practice). But I do think this discussion has more to do with human nature than any one professional field. The biggest takeaway is something I've heard about a lot: People are more inclined to stick around when they feel like they're an integral part of the company. To a lot of people, that kind of vibe is more important than money.

It also puts people in a good bargaining position if want something to change, but aren't sure switching jobs is going to address their feelings. I've felt that way, liking where I work but bothered by some dynamic or another. I've found managers - at least good ones - tend to be open to conversations about changing the way I work, or modifying my responsibilities, especially when I steer the talk along the path of improving performance and satisfaction. When you're not asking for more money, it's easier to position the discussion as being between two professionals seeking a better way to reach their mutual goals.

So, read this. There's some good ideas in here.

Readers, Experts Talk About Employee Retention [WSJ - $]

Is this Job Offer for Real?

JITM director Evan Lesser provides these tips on making sure the job offers coming into your inbox are legitimate:
  • Fake job offers often contain poorly written text, unrealistic salaries, and almost always ask you to respond to a free, public email account like Yahoo, Gmail, AOL, or Hotmail.
  • Fake job offers often ask for unnecessary personal data like contact information, social security number, phone number, passwords, bank accounts, etc.
  • Fake job offers often contain attached files, some of which can be dangerous to open.
  • Fake job offers often "spoof" or pretend they are coming from Web sites like JobsintheMoney or other job boards when in fact they are not. When employers contact you, the reply-to address will never be from JobsintheMoney or a free e-mail account, but rather directly from that employer's own work e-mail account.
Thanks, Evan.

Friday, November 30, 2007

What's Your Responsibility Quotient?

Sometimes, decisions about who you will and won’t work for help you sort out just how strongly you feel about an issue. I’m not a big fan of the war on terror and would have preferred that we spend those billions on universal pre-school for American children. Yet when an editor offered me a very profitable assignment writing a feature for one of Halliburton’s in-house magazines, I snapped the assignment right up. I could have sent the fee over to the Fresh Air Fund for children, but I used it to pay my health insurance tab instead.

If you’ve never run across a similar scenario, give it time. It’s the nature of life that if you’re a public accountant vehemently against abortion, your firm will land the audit work for the National Abortion Rights Action League and give the assignment to your team. When that happens, will you suck it up and do the audit, or beg off the assignment?

Do you consider corporate social responsibility when you job hunt? Check a company’s carbon footprint or charitable donations? Is it enough to know that your employer would give you two weeks off every spring so you can travel with your church to support an orphanage in Kenya, or do you actively look for a company that provides relief to African orphans?

Two recent surveys got me thinking about all this: The first, from KPMG, asked college students what their primary consideration was in choosing an employer and 57.4 percent said career opportunities. A scant 9 percent rated employer’s reputation as their top consideration.

The second survey, from Robert Half Management Resources, asked chief financial officers to rank the importance of corporate social responsibility programs. About 30 percent said they were “very important,” 25 percent said they were “not at all important,” and the rest were somewhere in the middle.

Can we conclude that most companies don’t care much about charity or volunteerism and that applicants don’t really care, as long as the job they’re offered has solid growth potential?

I suspect that for most of us, finding a socially responsible employer, or the decision to stay with an employer that moves in a direction we don’t like, is similar to choosing between a hybrid and a regular car. If the price is right, we’ll go with the hybrid, but if the price difference is large enough, fiscal consideration will outweigh good intentions every time.

Just who would you work for? It’s easy to say you’d hit the Add sender to blocked senders list if the Devil emailed after seeing your resume at JobsintheMoney, but it’s not always that obvious - or that easy.

Ethics Trouble Ahead

According to Sox First, a survey by the Ethics Resource Center found ethical misconduct has risen to the point of pre-Enron levels.
During the past 12 months, more than half the employees surveyed said they had seen ethical misconduct of some kind. And more than two in five didn't report what they had observed as one in eight experienced some sort of retaliation.

The findings are in the Ethics Resource Center's 2007 National Business Ethics Survey. Polling a total of 3452 employees in the business, government and non-profit sectors, the survey found that 23 per cent of employees observed conflicts of interest, 21 per cent witnessed abusive or intimidating behavior and 20 per cent witnessed lying.
Those aren't insignificant findings, and they make it more likely you'll bump up against some kind of ethical dilemma in the course of your work. Since being forewarned is being forearmed, you might want to take a look at this item by Dona DeZube about handling ethical questions when you're confronted with them.

Ethics danger signals [SOX First]
What to do With Ethical Questions [JITM]

It's Not About Balance - It's About Reality

Notoriously long hours, detail-oriented work, and considerable face time are parts and parcels of the CPA's working life. For accounting firms, changing this kind of culture may be even more important than money in the quest for new hires.

Given the stereotype of the overworked number-cruncher, it's no surprise posts for CPAs are wanting for candidates. Even without the pressured working conditions, other, often more lucrative opportunities are luring accountants away from the CPA fold. According to the 2007 CPA Examination Summit white paper from the National Association of Black Accountants, the wider financial world is drawing more young people of all backgrounds out of accounting. Better salary offers play a part, as does the perception getting the MBA is easier than earning CPA licensure.

Read the full story.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Audit Opportunities Expand As Private Companies 'Go Bright'

Sarbanes-Oxley is creating jobs for internal control and audit professionals within companies not formally subject to the five-year-old law.

Initially, SOX drove many public companies to "go dark" - buy up nearly all their shares in order to exempt themselves from the law's costly requirements. Now, accounting and finance experts are noting the opposite phenomenon: A significant minority of non-public companies are voluntarily choosing to comply with key provisions of SOX - a trend that could be called "going bright."

Read the full story.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Online Interviewing Help

If you keep thinking you're doing something wrong in your job search, here's an interesting site: NextJob101. Basically, it's a series of video tutorials in interviewing skills, a blog, and a forum, all created by recruiter Vicki Herrod. It costs $30 for a three-month membership, which doesn't strike me as unreasonable if you're looking for ways to polish your performance.

Here's a press release.

'Responsibility' Reporting Poised to Widen?

Corporations and investors are increasingly adopting environmental, social and governance measures of performance, alongside the usual financial ones. That means expanded career opportunities for internal auditors, management consultants and other professionals who can apply a new generation of non-financial reporting tools. The activities of finance departments and external auditors will be affected as well. But it's going to happen slowly.

Read the full story.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Then There's THIS Juggling Act...

I'm not sure whether to be amused, bemused, exasperated or glum about the comments to this post by Sara Schaefer Munoz on The Wall Street Journal's blog the Juggle.
OK Juggle readers, let’s hear it. How do you handle the competing demands of work, chores and children — and still make time for sex? Have you been successful in carving out time for yourselves as a couple, or is this something that has fallen by the wayside?
The comments range from the resigned to the pragmatic, with some cynicism thrown in. If you work long days (tax time's coming), you may want to read about a slice of juggling home and office that is more whispered about than actually discussed.

Juggling Career, Kids and a Sex Life
[WSJ - $]

About Agencies

Chris Russell posts an e-mail complaining about agencies who list positions on job boards, and his reply. The exchange makes points about agencies that job-seekers don't always like to hear, including:
Don't apply for jobs for which you are not qualified. I realize there are some job seekers who are down on their luck right now. But the worst thing you can do is blame somebody else. Make your own luck. Do something unique to stand out. If there is a job you want, go get it. Prove to the company that you are the RIGHT person for the job.
I hate employment agencies [Secrets of the Job Hunt]

N.Y. Area Accountants Feel Wall Street's Pain

With record write-downs reported at large banks and investment firms, many of which are headquartered in the tri-state region, it's not surprising that hiring is slowing down. New York, New Jersey and Connecticut accountants needn't rush to these firms looking for a golden opportunity, at least not in the short-term.

Read the full story.

Monday, November 26, 2007

On the Road Again

A new Web site by the Texas Society of CPAs explores accounting careers. It's called Destination CPA, and it's snazzy - just as a site aimed at high school and college students should be. Fortunately, Willie Nelson wasn't invited along for the ride. With it, the Texans join the AICPA in talking to kids in their own language.

New student-focused web site provides info on becoming a CPA [AccountingWeb]

More Than Numbers

Joey A. Bermudez, chief executive of Chinatrust Commercial Bank, Philipines, gave a speech to a group of newly certified accountants in Manila recently. It's an interesting speech, observations that can be useful to the newly
Whatever occupation you get into, be not afraid to re-invent yourself. For many years, the accounting profession struggled to remake itself after waking up to the fact that the world had changed and that our long-held notions of fair reporting had to keep up with the evolving business realities. One does not need to be thrust into a life-threatening situation before re-inventing himself; he only needs to be excited by the new role that he will assume. The best financial controller who worked for me was not even a CPA. He was not even an accountant by profession. He was an engineer. But he totally transformed himself into a financial controller because he saw in that role a lot of thrills and joys that many who went to accounting school could not see.
Quo vadis, young CPA? []

One Part Inspiration and 9 Parts Silk Screen

Okay, this is absolutely off-topic, because I just don't see accountants getting hired this way. But sometimes you come across something that can only be called "pluck."
Straight up, no bones about it, no way to dispute it, if they can read People WILL Read What's On Your Shirt!

Put something about yourself on your shirt and not only will they read it they will strain to see it. They will position themselves for a better look. Stand in line at a fast food joint and at any given moment someone will be checking it out. I'm telling you people can't help it.

With a brief description of your skills and what you're looking for (a cover letter basically) on your shirt you will be getting interviewed constantly in the minds of people who read it! If they happen to know of something that might be a match it will occur to them to say something!
Damn I Need A Job

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

More on Video Resumes

Louise Fletcher at Blue Sky Resumes writes about her experience creating a multimedia resume template for use with some of her clients. It sounds cool - except no one wanted it. Of video resumes she says:
They are simply a slower and more inconvenient way of screening candidates - and unless you're talented on camera (which is irrelevant for 99.9999% of all jobs) you might damage your chances of getting the job.
Video Resumes Are Not the Answer [Blue Sky Resumes]

Getting Credit When Credit is Due

You're doing all the work and someone else is taking all the credit. It's not only unfair, but it may affect your career. Handling the situation requires tact, diplomacy and a plan.

Read the Full Story.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

How Clothes Make the Accountant

In California, most accounting firms favor business casual attire. Staples of twentieth century office life - like ties and jackets for men or hosiery for women – are largely passe. So, what do the well-dressed accountants wear? Pay attention if you want to look the part.

You think this stuff doesn't matter? Read the story here.

Monday, November 19, 2007

It Just Looks Like I'm Late...

I'm a big fan of being on time. It amazes me how often people show up late for meetings - even if they've only got to walk down the hall. Of course, if it's your boss showing up late - well, he's the boss. But if you're the one who's late, you're probably mistaken to think "just a few minutes doesn't matter," or "we always start our meetings late anyway." I've never known anyone who looks bad by being on time.

This article in The Wall Street Journal looks at people who are habitually late, though it doesn't offer many tips on how to change. But the comments that go along with the story make for interesting reading.

I'm Not Really Late, I'm Just Indulging In Magical Thinking
[WSJ - $]

The IRS Man Behind the Bonds Indictment

How often do you a see a long feature article on an IRS Special Agent? The New York Times had one on Sunday, profiling Jeff Novitzky, who's investigative work has led to the indictment of San Francisco slugger Barry Bonds on charges of perjury and obstruction of justice.
Among government officials and antidoping authorities, Mr. Novitzky is heralded as a pioneer. They credit him with helping to change how the illegal distribution of performance-enhancing drugs is prosecuted. They describe him as a tenacious and methodical investigator whose work has always held up in court.

>>A Harvest of Trash and Turmoil for an Agent Fighting Steroids [NY Times]

Friday, November 16, 2007


Don't forget you can ask questions, give answers, or just generally say how you feel about work in JobsintheMoney's forums. You can reach them here. Yes, you have to register but that's about keeping spammers away.

How to Change Careers

Here's another story from our sister site Dice that, although it's written for tech folks, has some good pointers for anybody who'se considering as switch out of accounting.
"No matter what field you're in, the jobs all require the same behaviors, tools and disciplines," says Ford Myers, president of Career Potential LLC in Haverford, Pa. "The key is identifying the ones that you're good at and finding where you might be able to use those same skills."
This means that you should start by thinking about jobs where your accounting skills could be useful. Maybe it's managing a non-profit, for example. Or maybe you want to build on your accounting background by getting an MBA. If you like managing people, maybe general business management is the way to go. Whatever you do, to change careers to going to require the motivation to reeducate yourself, and the patience and perseverance to keep at it during the time it takes to navigate the transition.

Changing Careers for Fun and Profit [Dice]

What to do With Ethical Questions

If you stay in finance and accounting long enough, someone is going to ask you to fudge something. What should you do? First, clarify the situation, then refuse to act unethically and seek input from outside sources and people further up the chain of command.

"It's very important at the moment you're asked to do something unethical that you voice your concerns," says Kathleen Downs, division director for Robert Half International in Orlando. "You have to explain why you're uncomfortable and how you feel about it, so you can gauge whether you perhaps misunderstood what you were asked to do."

Read the full story.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Network Your Way to the Top

"I can find my next job all by myself" is one myth that needs to be exploded, say search experts. The old conventional wisdom, "It's not what you know, it's who you know," is alive and well. So get out of your chair, into some social and professional events, and nurture your network.

Read the full story.

How Long Should Your Resume Be?

For any resume, a key to success is length - or lack of it. It's critical to understand not only how a resume is reviewed, but what its length says about your professionalism.

Most human resources departments are understaffed and overworked. When a company posts an opening, it's often mere hours before HR is inundated with resumes. Most get a cursory pass, lasting between 10 to 30 seconds. Yet, it's at this stage that a resume deemed too long or too crowded will almost certainly be rejected.

So, what's the appropriate length? Does your resume have to fit onto one page? Are two pages acceptable? What if you're an executive with 25 years of relevant experience? Can you use three pages then?

When considering these questions, remember this: The goal of a resume is to help you get an interview. While there are always exceptions, the majority of candidates applying to a company cold should adhere to the general tenets that define effective resumes. These are the guidelines most HR staffers are familiar with, and while few hard and fast rules govern the world of resume writing, following this general advice can improve your chances of creating a great resume.

Read the full story.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Why We'll Always Need Tax Accountants

Today's Wall Street Journal has a story illustrating why tax accountants are in such demand. For those following the world of state taxes, it probably comes as no surprise that Illinois and Wal-Mart are locked in a dispute over the retailer's strategy of shifting revenues to a subsidiary based overseas, even though the unit's purpose is to receive money from stores in the Prairie State. It also mentions the state's dispute with McDonald's over a Delaware unit that owns restaurants in the Virgin Islands, and Minnesota's challenge of Burlington Northern Santa Fe's paying interest to Delaware subsidiaries doing business in Canada.

If you never considered the amount of state tax revenue big retailers are on the hook for, consider the lengths to which they'll go to, er, mitigate them.

It's a hugely complex issue, with the resolution often involving discussions between corporate and state tax departments, attorneys and specialists on the ground. You don't see many articles about it in the general business press.

Why Wal-Mart Set Up Shop in Italy [WSJ - $]

Pausing on Video Resumes

Even before you get to the legal issues involved in video resumes, I've never been a big fan of them. As a professional, I don't want to have to create one. As a manager, I hate the idea of having to watch a bunch of them any time I hire someone. (The legal issues, by the way, involve discrimination. Since employers aren't allowed to ask a candidate about race, sex, etc., they don't want to have the answers about race, sex, etc., presented to them via a video.) Besides that, I don't want to see how you do in a canned, rehearsed presentation. I want to see how you react to my questions, interact with other people, and in general get a sense of how we'd get along every day.

Still, video resumes are kind of like the moles in whack-a-mole. The idea keeps coming up, usually in some kind of magazine feature article. (Or, of course, there's this.)

Anyway, it seems the "career video" CareerTV is getting out of video resumes. According to the recruiting site, the company said there's not enough interest from employers.

careertv to abandon video resumes [Cheezhead]

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Blurred Lines

Penelope Trunk observes:
One of the most shocking turns in today’s workplace is that it used to be that young people went to the Peace Corps to grow. Now people go to big accounting firms because they are leading the way in retaining young workers, by infusing work with meaning. You get a mentor, you get rotating responsibilities, and you get opportunities to volunteer, on company time. A study by Deloitte found that volunteer opportunities attract a stronger candidate pool in the business sector. And Ernst & Young rewards high performers with a Social Responsibility Fellowship.
She was writing about how the desire of more people to have their jobs mean something is impacting the workplace - making non-profits more business-like, and businesses more socially conscious.

Not long ago, Dona DeZube wrote a piece for us on transitioning into the non-profit world. You can read it here.

Lines blur between non-profit and for-profit workplaces []
Move to a Non-Profit with Open Eyes [JobsintheMoney]

Successful Job Hunts Begin with a Plan

Even today, when the demand for candidates among accounting firms is approaching mythic status, you should consider the job market a buyer’s market, where employers come first. A job search shouldn't be about your search and the job you want. Rather, it should zoom right in with solutions to challenges employers face, recognizing their needs and reflecting their priorities. Targeting your search from this angle will make you stand out as the more competitive candidate, a sophisticated resource who understands how the modern job market operates.

Read the full story.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Gonna Party Like a Slowdown's Comin' On

It's not even Thanksgiving yet and the grinch is about. Apparently, fewer companies are planning on some type of holiday celebration this year. Search firm Battalia Winston says 85 percent of the companies it surveyed plan a party this season, nine percent less than last year, and the third lowest percentage in the 19 years its been asking the question. (The low point was during a recession in 1991.) Some 70 percent - 15 percent fewer than last year will be serving alcohol. Is there a link between more subdued company parties and economic worries? Battalia Winston Chief Executive Dale Winston thinks so. "Throughout the years, we've learned that the percentage of company parties is directly linked to the health of the economy. This year more businesses are opting for afternoon affairs and less alcohol than in 2006," he said.

Would You Ask for a Raise?

Our most recent poll on JobsintheMoney asked whether you'd ask for a raise in the next six months. The results were:

  • Yes - 55 percent
  • No reason to - 10 percent
  • Not in this economy! - 12 percent
  • Not sure - 23 percent
Now, we're asking about how comfortable you are taking a risk in managing your career. See the poll and vote on JobsintheMoney.

Friday, November 09, 2007

Another Way Patience Pays Off

While accountants are used to helping clients solve difficult problems, they're often less adept at resolving issues within their own firms. Reserved by nature, they tend to shy away from conflict and let situations fester. What they may not realize is the ability to resolve disagreements can be a great tool in developing their careers.

Here's our full story.

The Drama Continues

Colleges think the need for accountants is going to continue for some time:
Investment banking is still very popular with students and companies, but accounting, one of the most in-demand fields, doesn't have a glamorous image. "We can't get enough students to major in it," (Maria Stein, director of career services at Northeastern University in Boston) said. "It's a great career with a lot of opportunities. It's much more dynamic than students think."

In accounting, "Good quality candidates are very hard to find. Companies definitely want talented people," said Bill Driscoll, New England district president for the staffing firm Robert Half International.

Salaries and demand are rising in accounting and finance, Driscoll said. The 2002 Sarbanes-Oxley legislation mandating greater financial accountability from public companies continues to drive demand for accountants.
Jobs await prospective accountants, engineers [Boston Globe]

Thursday, November 08, 2007

More on Social Networks

Yesterday, I wrote a little bit social networks and finance folks tend to view them as being for fun, not business. I have to admit, their feelings confirmed a prejudice of mine, even though I'm hesitant to apply it to JobsintheMoney's users. I'm an old online guy (well, 47) and I've watched people use their computers for fun and business for a long time - since even before there was a Web.

See, there used to be dis thing called COMPuserve, and you could CHAT vith people, and send pictoores, and rant about politics in dere forums, and people spent HOURS on dis thing, usually late at night… Vhere's my inhaler…?

Sorry. Sometimes when I talk about things like CompuServe, my niece and nephew look at me the way I used to look at my grandfather.

Anyway, by coincidence I posted a story on our sister site Dice yesterday about using social networks as part of career management. Dice is a site for technical folks, so that's what the focus is on, but I think much of the article could apply to accountants and finance folks. If nothing else, it gives you a good idea of what sites are focused on business use (that would be LinkedIn), and what sites aren't really doing much of anything (which would be Friendster.) Don wrote:
There are fewer people on LinkedIn than other social networks, but they're the right people. This well-crafted site is designed solely to help you make professional connections. It's so serious that until recently you couldn't even post a photo of yourself. Submit your resume and skills, state your intentions (looking to hire, looking to be hired, looking for freelance work, etc.), import your address book to find colleagues who are already there - and start making connections.

Does it work? Some say it does. Janet Ryan, chief of advertising at, another social networking site, says she landed her job when the company's founder searched LinkedIn for a specialist to set up revenue operations just before the product launched. "By checking our mutual connections she was able to do a full reference check before we ever met, and I did the same on my end as well," Ryan recalls. "When we met in person it was like talking with an old friend, and we started working together immediately."

LinkedIn's search tools help find people like you, people who might need you, people you might need, and people who share your skills. The site also has a useful Q&A feature that lets you make your presence known by asking contacts specific career-related questions (and answering them, too). All this is free, and it's worth an hour of your time to get familiar with its look and feel.
Social networks basically repackage standard online tools in ways that help people connect. They give people a place to show off their knowledge to like-minded people - which can also be done by commenting on blogs, participating in forums, or creating a personal Web site that acts as an online resume. How valuable these strategies are varies by the industry you work in and, I think, by how comfortable you are in using them. What the networks give you is an environment where people want to connect.

Make a Social Network Work For You [Dice]

Success with Telephone Interviews

Telephone interviews can be trying. There are no visual cues from the interviewer, no body language to read and, in some cases, you've got to answer questions posed by a panel of voices over conference lines or speaker phones. Here's some tips on engaging successfully - long-distance or local.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

How to Leapfrog the Pay Scale

It's no secret that experienced accountants and finance professionals are in short supply, and that shortage of talent is pushing up CPA salaries at all levels. Getting regular annual raises in low-double-digit percentages must be a satisfying feeling. But if you make strategic use of outside offers, you may be able to boost your pay as much as 25 percent at a pop. Better yet, you may get the opportunity do so repeatedly as your career develops.

Read the full story here.

What Goes On Behind The Mirror

I spent the last two days in a dark room in mid-town Manhattan, watching people use JobsintheMoney. This was one of those see-through mirror set-ups, where a bunch of us from the product and marketing teams could observe people give the site a try. Throughout the session, they kept up a running commentary about what they liked, and what they didn't. Back in the dark room, there was a lot of sighing and note-taking.

A couple of things struck me: First, there's a big difference in attitudes among age groups about their careers. It seems the older people get, the more inclined they are to wait for an internal promotion rather than actively look for a new job. Younger people - meaning those below 35 - viewed switching jobs as what you do when the time comes for a new challenge or more money. And those who are in their mid twenties have a healthy sense that their job better stay interesting, or they're going to start looking.

Everyone understands the importance of connections, it seemed. In other words, they get the value of networking, even if they call it something else. People talk about "staying in touch" more than "networking," and few of these folks belonged to formal business or professional groups. They send e-mails instead. And, even among younger people, sites like Facebook or MySpace were all about fun. No one expressed much interest in using them to find a new job.

These are the highlights, and I'm still sifting through my notes. There's more to come. But if you have any thoughts about how you manage your career or look for a job - and how we can help you - please post a comment or send me an e-mail. Thanks.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

About Balance

Francine McKenna has a fascinating post on Re: The Auditors about the personality traits of accountants and an alternative view of work-life balance, which - as she notes - is all the rage as a discussion nowadays. I keep trying to summarize it, but I can't do it justice. She get it all rolling with this:
And I don't much like the focus the Big 4 have these days on work-life-family balance and diversity. Not because I am against work, life or family or diversity, but because I think the job is one you choose and the rest is something that you implicitly agree to adjust in order to fit in and do the job well. If I wanted to be off during the summer, I would have been a teacher. If I wanted my team to not miss me when I'm out and clients to be able to live without me when I'm away, I would have become an assembly line worker, able to turn off my job when the whistle blows. If I wanted everyone I work with to know about, respect and celebrate my personal, sexual, and lifestyle choices I would have become a nun.
That alone will get some people hopping. But before you hop, read the whole post here.

Soy Conservative [Re: The Auditors]

Advisory Services Staff Up With CPAs

Small and mid-sized CPA firms in the New York metro area are branching out into business consulting, giving rise to a new category of professional opportunities for accountants.

Read the full story.

Friday, November 02, 2007

Career Planning 101

What's career planning? Scot Herrick at CubeRules says:

Career planning is really about a simple formula, given to me by one of my previous managers:

Performance + Skills = Opportunity

Performance means that no matter what the job, performance counts. This is consistent across many good managers that I’ve had the privilege of working for in my career. Performance, to potential managers of your skills, means that you will go into a position and be successful, regardless of the position.

Skills means that you have the necessary prerequisites to be able to perform in the position.

If you have skills and no performance, you are a person with potential. If you have performance, but not the right skills for a new position, you won’t be given the opportunity.

In short, a person can only control their performance on the job and the skills they acquire.

Scot's point is that there are many things in your work you can't control: your manager, the job market, your company's performance - and I'd add even more things, like the economy, the demand for your skills (which might high right now, but...) and the joys and pressures of life in general. So, it's important to pay attention to doing the best you can with the aspects that are under your control.

Career Planning: Dynamic Duo Drives Opportunities [Cube Rules]

Reality Check

One of the things you've got to like about Penelope Trunk is her forthrightness. This post on her Web site is from July, but that doesn't make it any less valuable. It's about the struggles of stay-at-home fathers, told from the point of view of a woman who's married to one.

I know that there are a lot of stay-at-home dads. But while it may seem like there are a lot who are happy, I think it’s really just that every single one of the happy ones is blogging.
Flexwork, alternative work arrangements and what have you are such huge topics of discussion nowadays. But sometimes, there are unintended consequences.

My own marriage and the myth of the stay-at-home dad [Penelope Trunk]

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Accounting Workers' Confidence Slides

Accounting and finance workers' confidence appears to be swinging downward more steeply than among the U.S. adult population as a whole, new surveys show.

Here's the full story.

Policies Meet Reality

If you worry about ethics for all the wrong reasons - like, say, you're concerned someone might be looking over your shoulder - reality is, unfortunately, on your side. Because it seems that while companies have been diligent in creating ethics policies, few of them actually follow up to make sure it's being observed, at least in the UK.

In a survey conducted by CFO Europe Research Services and the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants, 90 percent of companies reported having a written ethics policy.

Writes WebCPA:
The survey also found that the top-performing companies were likely to report they had an excellent ethical climate. However, when the survey asked about whether companies and their boards had practices and procedures in place to monitor whether they were adhering to their code of ethics and processes to provide such assurances, the results were disappointing.

Strategic responsibility for ethics resides a step above the CFO, with the chairman or CEO, but CFOs are more likely to be the day-to-day guardians. Moxey believes that CFOs should help fulfill this role. "I think it's something that CFOs should be very actively involved in," he said. "CFOs are the natural keepers of the corporate conscience. They are the natural people to be spearheading a company's approach to whether it's living up to its values or complying with its rules."
Ethics Policies Often Not Monitored [WebCPA]

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Being an Apologist Has Its Rewards

Can a penchant for saying "I'm sorry" aid your career? That's the provocative implication of a recent survey by the respected Zogby polling organization.

The Zogby International survey of 7,590 Americans found a strong positive association between income and willingness to apologize in a variety of situations.

People earning over $100,000 a year are almost twice as likely to apologize after an argument or mistake as those earning $25,000 or less,

Fortune magazine said in outlining the survey findings. When subjects were asked if they'd apologize when they were fully, partly or not at all at fault, in each case "a person's willingness to apologize was an almost perfect predictor of their place on the income ladder."

For instance, the proportion saying they usually apologize when completely at fault declined monotonically across five income groups, going from 92 percent of those making above $100,000 to 52 percent of those earning under $25,000. "Even when they believe themselves to be completely blameless, 22% of the highest earners say 'I'm sorry,' compared to just 13% of those in the lowest income group," Fortune says.

The article floats several possible explanations: successful people have stronger people skills, are more willing to learn from their mistakes, are more disposed to take risks without getting permission first, and are more secure and less likely to get defensive when something goes wrong.

So, although "groveling" is not the route to success, Fortune senior writer and workplace expert Anne Fischer concludes that:
taking the high road - acknowledging one's share of blame, or even accepting some blame when it isn't justified - is a trait shared by many great leaders, because it tends to build solidarity with the troops.
Want a higher paycheck? Say you're sorry [Fortune]

Calif. CPAs Meld Tech, Accounting Skills

The use of technology for business is opening up new job opportunities for California CPAs. Consider the growing number of consultancies that need CPAs to help implement and support business management software. The work can be stimulating for accountants who want to try something beyond public firms or private industry.

Read more here.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Keeping Track

Louise Fletcher, a resume writer who blogs at Blue Sky Resumes, makes a great point about keeping track of the work you do:
Today I'm working on a resume for a client who is having a hard time recalling details of her prior projects.

She's not sure of the results of her efforts and sometimes she can't remember why a project was even started. I'm concerned that her resume won't reflect her true abilities, which got me thinking ...

Do you keep a record of what you do at work? Do you track your impact, make notes when your boss compliments you, or jot down details of projects you're working on? If not, you should!

None of us has a job for life anymore --- when you come to write your next resume, think how much easier it will be if you can refer to a written record.
Even if you're not planning on moving, this is an important habit to get into. Louise is right that none of us have jobs for life. You may well plan on staying in your current job for years, but you never know when something unforeseen will change things. That "something" could be a colleague who got the promotion you expected, an economic downturn, a merger, twins you didn't plan to have or just a decision you don't want to work in an office all day anymore.

Some people keep notes in their calendar - whether it's on their PC or in a book. Others keep a brief diary, while still others keep all of their project files in one place. However you do it, keep track of all the things you achieve.

Write It Down! [Blue Sky Resumes Blog]

PwC - And Big Four - Under Overtime Microscope?

A law firm that specializes in class action law suits is looking into a class action law suit for employees - in this case associates without CPA licenses - who allegedly worked without overtime pay at PricewaterhouseCoopers. "A successful verdict in this case could potentially change the way all Big 4 Accounting Firms do business nationwide," the law firm says.

PricewaterhouseCoopers - Class Action Law Suit Looms
[Big Four Blog

Monday, October 29, 2007

Foxes in the Henhouse

Call me crazy, but I can't shake this feeling that things I do online should have a certain degree of privacy attached to them. I know that when I post a profile in LinkedIn or Facebook, people are going to look at it. That's the point. What I don't expect is for employees of Facebook to check out the search activity of users, basically at their whim:
"My friend got a call from her friend at Facebook, asking why she kept looking at his profile," says a privacy-conscious source at a major tech company. Turns out Facebook employees can (and do) check out anyone's profile. Not only that, but they also see which profiles a user has viewed -- a major privacy violation. If you've been obsessed with a workmate or classmate, Facebook employees know. If Barack Obama's intern has been using the campaign account to troll for hotties, Facebook employees know. Within the company, it's considered a job perk, and employees check this data for fun.
The bold-faced emphasis is mine.

From a pure-user standpoint, this makes me not want to use Facebook very much. Reading this item, I couldn't help but wonder whether there are any auditing implications in here - I mean, could Facebook one day have to account for who's looking at what

Facebook employees know what profiles you look at [ValleyWag]

Friday, October 26, 2007

It Seemed Like a Good idea at the Time

The new job sounded perfect: a great working environment, the right amount of travel and an exciting accounting challenge. But a month after you started, you realize the working environment is toxic, the travel is non-stop and your biggest challenge is figuring out what to about it.

How to face the challenge? Dona DeZube found out.

Networking Survival

What I like about this column on networking by Liz Ryan is its focus on the dark side: All those people out there who want to "network" and "get to know you" so they can ask you for something, without any real intention of returning the favor. Networking, Ryan thinks, has gotten a bad rap because as more people have taken to it, its dynamics have changed. It's less about getting to know people and more about building a list of sales leads.

It doesn't have to be that way, she points out, and her article is all about how to fend off those people you'll invariably meet who think of networking as expanding their stable of favor-doers.

Two examples:
If You Get What You Want, Say Thanks

When you call on your network—or just one member of it—for help, and you get it, say "thank you." Countless helpful business leaders have spent countless hours poring over the résumés of countless job-seekers who've asked for a bit of guidance and gotten it—only to disappear into the fog, never thanking the advice-giver or acknowledging his or her contribution to the cause. A heartfelt thank-you e-mail works wonders. If you skip that step, you're asking for bad career karma for years on end and burning a bridge you can ill afford to set ablaze.

Don't Dis a Favor

One of my favorite disgusting-networking stories concerns a young lady who asked me for help with her HR résumé. The résumé was a mess, and it took me two hours to rewrite it, stem to stern. I sent back the revised version, and she wrote me, saying: "I had no idea you'd take my résumé apart and rewrite it. It'll take me a long time to type this up again. In the meantime, can you please send my old résumé to all your contacts?" Sure, no problem. Is it O.K. if I include a note saying: "I rewrote this person's résumé for her since, as you can see, this version reeks, but she's too busy to type it up. In the meantime, can you please hire her?" That should get a lot of interviews.
Read it and be armed.

10 Tips for Networkers [BusinessWeek]

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Behind the Scenes

Maybe you've heard that you can make your resume rise to the top of the electronic pile by cleverly placing keywords throughout its text before sending it in. As Sarah Needleman writes in this oldie-but-goodie from CareerJournal, it's a bad idea:
But because of recent advances in resume-search technology, some of the sneakier tactics applicants have developed no longer work. What's more, the new technology can reveal the use of these methods, potentially sabotaging a candidate's chances of securing interview invites.
Even if you're not being sneaky, putting too much emphasis on searchable keywords can work against you:
Resumes with an overabundance of keywords are a turnoff for Jolie Downs, a partner at recruiting firm Paradigm Staffing of Santa Cruz, Calif. She recently received a resume via email from someone seeking a senior account executive position at a public-relations agency. A string of keywords was listed in plain view at the bottom. "It's unprofessional," she says. "I didn't call them."
This is an article that's pretty on the back-end - meaning there's a lot about how hiring managers think and how their software works - but those aren't bad things to know when you're crafting a resume for a job you really want.

Why Sneaky Resume Tactics May No Longer Aid Job Hunters

Salaries Moving Higher, Again

In case you haven't heard, starting salaries in accounting should rise next year:
Starting salaries for accounting and finance professionals are expected to increase an average of 4.3 percent in 2008, according to Robert Half International's 2008 Salary Guide. Public accountants, financial analysts and internal auditors are expected to see the largest gains.
Here's our story.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

It's All in How You Ask

Here's a great interview tip reported by Dona DeZube:
To make sure you're not being snookered during the interview process, make a list of the things you do and don't want in your next job, covering area like work environment, travel, tasks, location, career advancement and money. Prioritize the list, then find a way to ask open-ended questions about the issues topping it. "They're not going to tell you the bad news, so you have to ask for those things you don't want, but in a positive way," says Carl Wellenstein, president of ExecGlobalNet in Downey, Calif. "If you made a wrong decision you really need to move on."

For example, one of the questions you want to ask is: To what extent do you want to train me in other areas outside my expertise? If you prefer to specialize in one area, an answer that involves training in several others tells you the job's not right for you.
It's an out-take (Sorry, Dona) from a story we'll be posting soon.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Polls That Make You Go Hmmm

Our last poll asked, "How diverse is your office?" And the answers were:
  • Exceptionally 18%
  • More than average 10%
  • About average 20%
  • Not diverse at all 25%
  • I don't care 27%
Looked at another way: 28 percent said "exeptionally" or "more than average," while more than half said either "not diverse at all" or "I don't care." (Not that I want to put too much of a spin in things.) But what's most interesting is the single biggest block of voters said they don't care.


Sometimes you just need a little perspective. And when you do, I suggest you spend a moment on the site of, a firm that believes:
motivational products create unrealistic expectations, raising hopes only to dash them. That's why we created our soul-crushingly depressing Demotivators® designs, so you can skip the delusions that motivational products induce and head straight for the disappointments that follow!
So, you can avail yourself of posters, coffee mugs and calendars that inspire:
Achievement: You can do anything you set your mind to when you have vision, determination, and an endless supply of expendable labor.

Apathy: If we don't take care of the customer, maybe they'll stop bugging us.
And my personal favorite:
Consulting: If you're not a part of the solution, there's good money to be made in prolonging the problem.
Okay, these aren't for everyone - but they're a good way to measure the sense of humor of your colleagues. Though maybe not your boss.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Breaths of Sanity in a Digital World

Some companies are seeking balance the use of e-mail, cell phones and other tech tools with genuine, face-to-face interaction. That's a fancy way of saying some firms want people to actually talk. In the Boston Globe, Maggie Jackson writes

…some progressive bosses are counterbalancing the diffusion of the digital age with innovative efforts to boost face-to-face and real-time connections. They're mandating no travel or no e-mail days, or making flesh-and-blood connections a new priority. The results are sometimes surprising - less stress, more learning, even better balance at home.

"We embrace chat and e-mail and collaboration tools," says Singu Srinivas, copresident of Needham's HiWired, a technology support start-up with 60 employees. "Those are additives to face-to-face relationship building, but they can't be a replacement for it."


North Hampton, N.H. workplace consultant J.T. O'Donnell says she's hearing more about such innovations. Bosses are saying, if you have a problem, pick up the phone or meet. Stay away from long-winded e-mails.

"Companies are realizing that they have got to not replace all their face-to-face interactions, communications, and training with virtual to save money," says O'Donnell. "It's the loss of what we can't convey in e-mail and tech communications that's hurting us."

Pushing face time in the digital age [Boston Globe]

Friday, October 19, 2007

Sanity and Social Networking

Here in the online world, social networks are all the rage. In English, that means everyone who's anyone is telling you how sites like LinkedIn, MySpace and Facebook are the next big things that are going to change the way we communicate, live, work, find jobs, learn things, and attain enlightenment. Of course, there are those of us contrarians who think they're handy things to use but don't see them getting lots of people excited who aren't (a) programmers, (b) venture capitalists or (c) people who run social networking sites.

Cube Rules' Scot Herrick was speaking at a writers' conference about technology for writers when he was asked how many of these sites someone should sign up for and use for their work?

(Precisely, I thought when I read Scot's post about it. With everyone and their brother launching social networking sites of one kind or another, how are people supposed to figure out which ones to join, keep track of them all, and still get their work done?)

Scot's answer:

We face the same question as Cubicle Warriors, don’t we? Should I have a blog, join LinkedIn, go nuts on Facebook — or forget the whole thing?

I don’t think you can forget the whole thing; that would hurt your career management networking. But, there are some criteria you can use to decide how you spend your time. Here’s mine:

  1. The audience is everything. You should spend time on the social sites that drive sales to your target market. If tween-something is your thing, then MySpace is your place. For Cubicle Warriors, it more often is career management blogs and places like LinkedIn and (my personal favorite, because it is a career management tool) Jibber Jobber.

  2. Your time is everything. You can only spend so much time focusing on your network. Make sure you are spending your time where it is easiest and gives you the most bang for your buck. What’s the easiest way to stay in contact with your work associates, past work associates and friends? That’s where you go.

  3. Know your criteria for accepting social connections with “friends.” And feel comfortable with the criteria.

My criteria for accepting connections are simple: I know you, have interacted with you, and believe that you “get it” in my definition of competence. If you do, you’re in. If you don’t, you won’t. Simple.


Joining Social Sites — The Criteria [Cube Rules]

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Will Meet for Food

Personally, I don't mind meetings that involve food. Actually, I kind of like them. If I'm bored, I can at least comfort myself with the idea the business is paying for the food, and if I'm intrigued or engaged or both - well, it's nice to feel intrigued and engaged when I'm doing something else I like, which is eat.

But Lisa Belkin, in today's New York Times, points out that business meals have their limits - or at least they should:
But I write about life-work balance, and it feels a little contradictory to conduct an interview, or attend a conference, or give a speech, when everyone involved had to sacrifice sleep to attend.

I have similar qualms about working dinners. After a long day of work, why follow it up with more work? True, there is good food, and probably wine, and it beats coal mining. But if you have to be there because the client and boss expect it, or if you would rather be playing “airplane flies in the hangar” with your toddler, then it is work disguised as socializing.

Don’t even get me started on weekends and holidays. I was once invited to a conference of pediatricians over Mother’s Day. Pediatricians! Cannibalizing Mother’s Day!

Good points all. Her main thought is that nowadays work has crept into times usually reserved as personal - for having breakfast with your kids, say, or unwinding with your husband or wife after a day at the office.

Belkin advises girding yourself to say no to people when they want to "pick your brain" over a meal - something I've found is easier said than done and, depending on your job or your commitment to networking - can be counterproductive. But certainly, she makes a good argument for being selective in who you go out with.

Oh Joy! Breakfast With the Boss [NY Times]

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Guess Who's Conservative?

Penelope Trunk goes deep to look at Gen Y and the Big Four after hearing from BusinessWeek that the Top three places to work in the eyes of Y-ers are Deloitte, PricewaterhouseCoopers and Ernst & Young.

Well, for one thing, the Big 4 are acutely aware of what young people want. Deloitte has been studying generational issues for years and Cathy Benko, Global e-Business Practice Leader for Deloitte, just published a great book, Mass Career Customization, that replace the corporate ladder motif with a lattice. And workers can move laterally or up or down on the lattice depending on their personal goals and career aspirations. The Big 4 get the best candidates because these companies have been the fastest to react to the new workforce conditions that place young people in the driver’s seat .

But here’s what else is going on: Gen Y does not admit it, but their top priority is stability. This is a fundamentally conservative generation. And in the middle of this very long article in Business Week, is an important quote from Andrea Hershatter, director of the undergraduate business program at Emory University and veteran of college recruiting:

“There is a strong, strong millennial dislike of ambiguity and risk, leading them to seek a lot more direction and clarity from their employers, in terms of what the task is, what the expectations are, and job progression.”

The Real Deal about Gen Y: They’re Inherently Conservative [Brazen Careerist]