Thursday, May 31, 2007

CPAs in an ERP World

CPAs have an opportunity in the world of enterprise resource planning - more commonly called ERP - but they're not taking advantage, says Rick Telberg at CPA2Biz.

According to an Aberdeen Group study, ERP is indeed working quite well for small manufacturers - defined as companies with less than $50 million in annual revenue. Still, a fairly large number of such organizations have not yet implemented ERP, and many small businesses with systems in place should be considering upgrades.

Therein lies the opportunity for CPAs. ERP consulting requires an advanced level of business client knowledge which has long been a hallmark of accountants and finance professionals.
Most of the article is technical background, but it plants seeds you may not have considered if you're looking for a new career path.

When Accounting Isn't Enough [CPA2Biz]

Women Gain at Illinois Firms - Slowly

A survey by the Illinois CPA Society found only slight shifts in hiring and retention patterns among women from last year, and says women are still underrepresented in key leadership positions at firms throughout the state.

Women represented just 10 percent of managing partner positions, continuing a one percent annual increase shown every year since the survey was begun. The number of women in both managing partner and executive management positions rose to 13 percent. It had been 11 percent in 2006 and 2005. That number, said society President Elaine Weiss, "is not increasing fast enough."

I posted a summary on JobsintheMoney, or you can read the society's press release.

Illinois CPA Society's 2007 Survey On Accounting Women [ICPAS]
Women Gain at Illinois Firms - Slowly [JITM]

About E&Y

It's not that I think the indictment of four E&Y folks (past and present) on charges related to bogus tax shelters is going to have a big impact on the job landscape. But I loved Francine McKenna's take on the story on her blog, Re: The Auditors. So here it is.

Why Did Jesse James Rob Banks? [Re: The Auditors]

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

A Good Point on Blogs

Being an old guy - I'm 47 - I'm not always clear on what Gen Y'ers are into and what they're not. This might have as much to do with fear as anything else, but that's a topic for a different blog. Apparently, though, Gen Y isn't all that excited about the blogs that Gen X is so attuned to. Over on Brazen Careerist, Ryan Healy makes a good point about the use they could put a blog to:

It’s ironic, though, because blogging is a way to deal with the biggest problem at the beginning of one’s career: No expertise. If you offer intelligent opinions or advice on a credible blog, then you are an expert. This is why more young people should blog. If you have a focused blog, then you can jump from job to job and learn many skills, but the constant will be that you are an expert in whatever area you choose to research and write about.

Twentysomething: Blogging is the new graduate school [Brazen Careerist]

The Resume as an Interview Tool?

Before you land an interview, you'll need to make sure you've got one of your job-hunting tools honed to a razor's edge, writes Myra Thomas. And that tool is: your resume.

Obvious, right? You already know your resume has to present your skills and work experience in the strongest possible way. And, you probably know most resumes get a first read that is, at best, quick. But when you consider that most hiring managers make their decision about a candidate within five minutes of beginning an interview, you may come to agree with the notion your resume had better be a stunner.

Read five issues your resume should address on JobsintheMoney.

Five Steps to a Standout Resume [JITM]

Mixed Messages

Mixed messages in the most recent Hudson Employment Index:

Following six consecutive months of stability or steady improvements, the number of workers forecasting hiring inched down a point to 32 percent in May. On the other hand, more managers said they expected their employer to add staff, boosting this group’s overall measure of confidence.

The overall index, which dropped 0.6 of a point to 106.9 in May, is still above the year ago level of 102.3. See the press release to dive into the numbers.

Hudson Employment Index Edges Down 0.6 Points in May [Hudson]

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

More on MySpace

In case you haven't figured it out, employers can read your MySpace page - or your Facebook page, or your blog - just as easily as everyone else on the Internet. And though you might think Jello wrestling at midnight Saturday is a purely personal activity, your boss or that firm that's been wooing you might have different ideas. This has all been written about before, of course, but Don Aucoin of the Boston Globe has a particularly readable piece about it in today's paper. It all boils down to a simple notion: Whatever your ideas about "personal space," if you post something online, it's probably not going to be all that private.

"MySpace is a social site. The whole idea is to make some friends, or to have old friends find you, on a social level," says Kordana, 34, who also works as an actress. "And we should be completely free to do that. But on a professional level, we're having to censor ourselves from potential future employers. How much control do we want the companies to have over our private lives? If you are proving yourself in the workplace and you are not putting the image of your employer at risk, I feel that your private life is yours."

Nicely said. But don't count on it.

MySpace vs. Workplace [Boston Globe]

CFOs Do Well in Academia

If you're thinking the CFO track is for you, here's an interesting factoid: CFOs at private U.S. colleges are making a lot of money, benefiting from a nearly 14 percent median increase between 2003 and 2005. According to the Chronicle of Higher Education:

A Chronicle survey of 103 private doctoral institutions shows that between the 2003 and 2005 fiscal years, the median compensation package for the top financial position, which includes such titles as vice president for business and finance and vice president for business and administration, rose 13.8 percent, to $258,581.

College CFO's Outpace Other Leaders in Pay Raises [Chronicle of Higher Ed - Subscription]

From Around the Web

Friday, May 25, 2007

Are Employers too Picky?

That's what Jon Jacobs explores in an article just posted on JobsintheMoney. Jon thinks the issue may cross a number of sectors in the financial world, including accounting. What's going on?

Viewed from the ground, it appears that employers are intent on hiring only those people whose background and capabilities exactly match their needs. Several recruiters told us it's not unusual to send a client one or more candidates whom the recruiter judged a perfect fit, only to be asked to keep looking for a closer match. This quest for the ideal candidate poses a real challenge, say these middlemen, who pore over thousands of resumes.

Read the whole story, via the link below.

Are Employers Too Picky? [JITM]

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Good Schedule If You Can Get It

Speaking of KPMG: It's so flexible, it's allowing one of its accountants to set up his schedule so that he can train for a bodybuilding competition. It wasn't physical fear that made them do it - I mean, the guy is 6-2 and weighs 230; I'd let him do it. But KPMG has its eye more on a broader audience: Gen Y'rs on its staff:

At KPMG he's getting them - and more: The firm has let him arrange his schedule to train for a bodybuilding competition, and he's on its tennis team. Even before that, KPMG got his attention when it agreed to move him to New York, his chosen city. "It made me say, 'You know what? This firm has shown a commitment to me. Let me in turn show some commitment to the firm.'" He pauses, a twinkle in his eye. "So this is a merger, if you will - Josh and KPMG."

Attracting the twentysomething worker [Fortune]

Neither Up Nor Out

KPMG recently inaugurated an internal Web site aimed at helping its employees find alternative career paths, Dona DeZube reports on JobsintheMoney.

Although the traditional “up or out” model isn’t about to disappear, KPMG’s move is the latest of numerous steps by CPA firms to encourage experienced accountants to remain in the profession beyond the point where family or other considerations take them off the partner track.

"Only one in 10 will make partner, so the challenge is how do we motivate people to stay longer in a professional career," says Joe Maiorano, executive director of Workplace Solutions for KPMG, Montvale, N.J. "We're trying to create a culture where people are affiliated with KPMG for life, whether they stay with us for life or come here at some point in their career."

The article also offers expert tips for CPAs with management responsibilities who want to cut back or even exit the work force for awhile. The good news is, a well-prepared pitch for a less intense schedule and responsibilities most likely will be well received. Seventy-five percent of accounting firms offer some sort of flex-time arrangements.

Stepping Off the Fast Track [JITM]

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

An Effective Interview

Although most job interviews take at least an hour, hiring managers often decide how they feel about a candidate within a few minutes of shaking hands. So, it's critical that you separate yourself from the pack right away.

Impressing managers during an interview requires something of a one-two punch: Your first strike is a solid resume, and your second is a stellar in-person performance. Effectively presenting yourself is particularly important in the financial industry, as Myra Thomas reports this morning on JobsintheMoney.

Standing Out in the First Five Minutes [JITM]

Hiring Grads in California

More good news for college graduates: A survey shows 60 percent of them plan to hire people right out of school. Recruiters still see an exceptionally high demand for young accountants:

"Colleges are now building up their accounting programs so there are more graduates coming out of school, but demand still exceeds supply. Employers are
specifically interested in any specialized training in audit and financial analysis."

Graduates in those fields can expect starting annual salaries of $45,000 to $55,000, Kanter said, and that jumps to $60,000 if they have strong communication skills and practical experience through internships or volunteer positions.

There's a lot in this article from the Orange County Register you've seen before, but there might be some particularly interesting details to glean for the Californians among you.

Accountants in demand as employers hire more college grads [OC Register]

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Blogs for Accountants

A great list of accounting blogs is on the Web site of Michelle Golden, a marketer who works with accounting and law firms. The list she's compiled offers a information on a variety of topics, some light, some a bit denser, but all of it on-subject. If your particularly interested in marketing your firm, you should check her blog regularly. She seems to keep it up to date, and it's interesting.

Accounting Blog List [Golden Practices]
Golden Practices Blog

Calif. Conference Focuses on Young CPAs

James Rubin reports on the California CPA Education Foundation's recent Young Professionals Conference, held in Universal City.

But while schools excel in covering technical accounting skills, they may overlook other areas that help young professionals build satisfying, long-term careers. The Young Professionals Conference hit a chord with its emphasis on practical topics. In a morning lecture, entitled "Springboarding Your Career," Sony Pictures executive Irwin Jacobson spoke of the importance of establishing clear career goals. Jacobson encouraged his audience to pursue the sort of leadership roles that can lead to promotions.

More events for young accountants are planned, says James, since attracting young people to accounting and increasing professional development programs is one of the main goals of Foundation Executive Director Kay Phelan.

California Conference Focuses on Careers [JITM]

(Non) Impact of SOX

One of the great dynamics of accounting today is the work involved with proving public companies are in compliance with Sarbanes-Oxley. Now, as the Securities and Exchange Commission and the Public Company Accounting Oversight Board prepare votes on streamlining some aspects of the act's application - most particularly its dreaded section 404 - comes a survey that says SOX isn't driving all that IPO business overseas after all.

"There is little evidence that firms have been making listing decisions differently in recent years from how they made them from 1990 to 2001," said Andrew Karolyi, one of the co-authors of the survey.

"There is a valuation premium for firms that list on U.S. exchanges. It is robust and there is no evidence that the listing premium falls after 2001, even for listed firms from countries with good investor protection."

Sarbanes-Oxley not dissuading foreign listings-survey [Reuters]
SEC to finalize Sarbanes-Oxley tweaks [MarketWatch]

Monday, May 21, 2007

Resume Hint: Focus

When you're looking at your resume, does the objective fit with the kind of position you're looking for? This Detroit News article makes a good point about the importance of making sure your objectives and skills are in-sync.

An objective is a statement of what you want to do for an employer. It needs to be supported by information in your resume that shows you can indeed perform what you promise in your objective. Without this backup, it is meaningless.

A resume should consider your abilities, skills, education and interests as they pertain to the position you are applying for. In other words you are saying "this is what I want to do and the information that follows is why I can perform the job duties."

Review your past. Write down what jobs you have held, what you liked, what you have accomplished and what type of education you have had. Ask yourself what really motivates you.

A good, quick read.

Resumes should focus on objective [Detroit News]

From Auditor to CFO

David Gardner, CFO of real estate investment trust Home Properties, Inc., was wary of making the jump from the accounting world. But, as this item in the Rochester (N.Y.) Democrat and Chronicle relates, it seems to have worked out for the best.

Career milestones: Switching careers takes determination, research [Democrat and Chronicle]

Washington State Needs Numbers Help

Washington state is looking for people good with numbers and computers:

Despite Washington’s strong economy, which posted a record low 4.4 percent jobless rate in April, state agencies, including Employment Security, can’t fill enough job openings for tax auditors and information technology workers, Lee said.

A strong economy means more competition for state agencies, said Employment Security Department spokeswoman Sheryl Hutchison.

“The private sector sucks them up, and the pay is a lot better than state government,” said Hutchison...

Agencies see staffing problem [The Olympian]

Friday, May 18, 2007

A Career Boost Via Outsourcing?

A new certification is being offered for professionals who help their companies outsource various business processes, reports Myra Thomas.

The Certified Outsourcing Professional (COP) designation is awarded by the International Association of Outsourcing Professionals, based on experience credits for outsourcing work already engaged in, plus study credits for related classroom or online course work.

Previous coverage of outsourcing on JobsintheMoney, as in most of the media, has focused on the threat that a reader’s own work could be outsourced. But with outsourcing as ubiquitous as it is, many management accountants inevitably are involved with it from the other side of the table, managing and documenting the process.

As more corporations consider business-process outsourcing, professionals involved in related decision-making - including management accountants - are seeking to establish ways to recognize their expertise and build on their skills sets.

Today's accountant is more than a number cruncher. As professionals in the field assume operational roles inside of corporations, their duties often grow to encompass tasks related to assessing the cost structure of outsourcing a project, division, or function.

Chris Disher, a management consultant and certified management accountant, was among the first round of individuals to receive the COP designation. As business gets further involved in outsourcing, he notes, being recognized as an authority on the subject is a useful and valuable thing for accountants assuming a corporate role. "It's also a wonderful way to get the big picture on the process," Disher adds. "The certification helped to teach me about the entire scope of the outsourcing issue and the problems, as well."

The IAOP says it has certified about 50 individuals thus far, and about 100 more are in the application process.

CPAs Weigh Outsourcing Certification [JITM]

Thursday, May 17, 2007

The CEO's Office, By the Numbers

Marla Gottschalk, a one-time Peat Marwick auditor who's now chief executive of the Pampered Chef, talks about her career path with the Chicago Tribune.

As an auditor, you're focused on everything that's been done, things that already happened. After three years of this, I was given a chance to do some soft consulting. I liked doing more prospective assignments. I wanted to be on the front end of decision-making rather than the back end.

On work-life balance, she says:

My husband, Andy, a KPMG partner, is incredibly supportive. We have two daughters. After we had children, we jointly decided we'd continue our careers. Both of us share household and family responsibilities. That means we both work smarter.

Being a mom has had a positive impact on my career. You learn to do what's really important, what drives the business, and delegate more to the people who work for you to get the job done.

Numbers added up to move into a Pampered way of life [Chicago Tribune]

College Skills Translate to the Office

You might be surprised by how well some of the tricks you learned to get through college apply to the working world.

The Wall Street Journal explores how soft skills are often as important to employers as your academic background. Did you study until the wee hours of the morning? Were you instant messaging friends and watching TV at the same time? You may not have realized it, but you were demonstrating an ability to manage a tight schedule, Joan Brannick, an organizational psychologist in Tampa, told the newspaper.

The trick lies in translating those student lifestyle knacks into business language. For example, class projects might be described as "cross team collaboration," using MySpace is "connecting with customers through new technologies" and studying abroad becomes "global exposure and cultural savvy." Such word-smithing comes from Warren Ashton, a recruiting manager for Microsoft, who created a useful guide to such translations for the article. (It's appended to the end.)

But, the Journal cautions, don't oversell your soft skills at the expense of your core talents:

Manny Fernandez, national managing partner of campus recruiting for KPMG LLP in New York, appreciates applicants who are able to process large amounts of information and tackle several projects at once. He notes that entry-level employees at the audit, tax and advisory firm often have to work on multiple client projects and must be able to manage their own time while coordinating with colleagues and clients.

William Hankers says that when he interviewed for accounting jobs last May, he stressed to recruiters that he had juggled a full load of classes and held an executive board seat at an accounting fraternity while maintaining an academic scholarship. Now a staff accountant at Ernst & Young in New York, the 22-year-old says he's now using his time-management skills to perform his job as he studies for the CPA exam.

Ability to Pull an All-Nighter Can Be as Useful as a B.A. [WSJ via CareerJournal]

Greener Grass?

Dale Moss, a columnist for the Louisville Courier-Journal, muses about the possibilities of working retirement and opening up your own shop. Worth a read for anyone who's thinking about becoming a sole practitioner or otherwise going off on their own.

Retire? Sure, but there is no rush [Courier-Journal]

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

From Around the Web

PWC names Salerno top LI partner: Paul Salerno takes over the Melville, N.Y., office and will build relationships with private equity firms, who "have come into the Long Island market, and that creates a growth opportunity for us." [Long Island Business News]

South Jersey firm joins Crowe Group family: Mt. Laurel, N.J.-based risk-management firm will merge with Crowe Chizek & Co. on July 1. [Philadelphia Business Journal]

CPA Firm To Focus On Staff, Clients: Managing Partner Michael E. Carter talks to the Lakeland (Fla.) Ledger about the long-term plans of the NCT Group, CPAs. [The Ledger]

Abalos & Associates Named Top Accounting Firm: Arizona Woman Who’s Who in Business lauds the firm as a top woman-owned business. [Open Press]

Market Reactions to Auditors Switching from Big Four to Smaller Accounting Firms: "The possible reason is that the market perceives the economic benefits from switching, or a more aggressive conclusion is that possibly the market rewards large public companies in performing their social responsibility of investing in smaller accounting firms (assuming no loss of economic benefits)." [GLO CPAs via BusinessWire]

Sure, Mentoring is Important, But...

So for all the talk by businesses about mentoring and how it important it is, more often than not it's up to entry-level accountants and financial professionals to find their own advisor. A survey by Accountemps found 58 percent of CFOs polled say it's uncommon for their companies to match new hires to mentors, formally or informally.

Few Firms Assign Mentors to New Staff, Survey Shows [Accountemps]

Signing Bonuses Rise in New York

If you're antsy in your job, firms in New York State are increasingly inclined to pay signing bonueses, reports Myra Thomas.

For those in the field, the good news is that signing bonuses are becoming very big issues. Firms are dangling real money in front of qualified people to get them to jump ship from a competitor. Says (Alan L.) Kramer, "We're certainly now seeing more signing bonuses than we have in recent years, but firms are also tying retention to that, with a contract that might pen someone in for about six months." Area firms and recruiters are also working hard to bring people who have left accounting back into the fold.

And, she says, the talent crunch is getting bad enough that many recruiters are giving serious looks to candidates from overseas - from places like Australia and South Africa.

So, what is it that's keeping so many people in place? I've been hearing more rumblings lately of a number of CPAs who just don't like the firms they're working for or think they should be getting better compensation packages. Why aren't they jumping? Some say it's because accountants are "sedentary," but that's a stereotype. Could it be firms are being too picky?

New York/New Jersey: Signing Bonuses Rise [JITM]

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

IRS Customer Services Beats the Airlines

This is a bit off-topic, but you still have to love it: People think the IRS is better at customer service than the airlines or cable television and satellite services companies.

According to Bloomberg, the IRS scored a total of 65 out of 100 points on the University of Michigan's American Customer Satisfaction Index. Overall, the airline industry fell to 53. Claes Fornell, a business school professor at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, told Bloomberg he doesn't think "this means people would rather pay taxes than fly, but maybe it's because they're happy with their refunds or something."

As for the airlines, their scores are "about as low as you can get,'' Fornell said. "Companies with these types of scores don't survive unless they improve very rapidly.''

Americans in Study Rate IRS Ahead of U.S. Airlines on Service [Bloomberg]

Deloitte Among 'Top 10' Companies for Women

Deloitte & Touche USA was the only accounting firm to earn a spot among DiversityInc.'s Top Ten companies for executive women.

The accounting giant reports 20 percent of the women in its senior management (CEO and direct reports) are women of color, compared with a 15 percent average for the Top 50. Seventy-four percent of its managers participate in the mentoring program, compared with a 32 percent average for the Top 50. The company also has excellent work/life benefits.

In general, the financial business did pretty well here: Bank of America, JPMorgan Chase and HSBC-North America were also on the list.

The DiversityInc Top 10 Companies for Executive Women [DiversityInc]

I Don't Want to Be Self-Serving, But...

... there's an article on CareerJournal about the value of niche job sites - like, oh I dunno, JobsintheMoney, maybe - compared to broader sites, such as or CareerBuilder.

Job seekers who limit their searches to traditional online hotspots may be missing out on the best career opportunities, as more employers are advertising openings on Web sites that cater to specific career fields and geographic locations. They say these so-called niche sites attract better-matching candidates than sites that list positions in a wide range of career fields and ZIP codes.

You be the judge. The full article's available through the link below.

Why It's Time to Broaden YourJob Search Beyond the Big Boards [CareerJournal]

Monday, May 14, 2007

Reasons To Keep Accounting

I've heard many a story about accountants who change careers for one reason or another: They get sick or the hours, bored with the work, or simply decide they want to try something new. On her blog Brazen Careerist, Penelope Trunk lists five reasons you should not change careers:

1. You hate your boss. (That's a job problem, not a career problem.)

2. You want more prestige. (A confidence problem, not a career problem.)

3. You want to meet new people. (A social problem, not a career problem. "Maybe what you really want is to get a life. Pick up a hobby.")

4. You want more meaning in life. (It can be many things - but it's not a career problem.)

5. You want more happiness. (This is a perspective problem, not a career problem.)

Reading the full post, I think what Trunk's saying is there are any number of traps you can fall into by thinking a career change will help you find happiness/meaning/contentment. If you're not happy in your work, the first step might be to make sure your work is the issue.

Five situations when you shouldn’t change careers [Brazen Careerist]

Blog Recommendation

Francine McKenna, of consulting firm McKenna Partners, comments on recruitment, the Big Four, compliance, women in accounting, and all sort of other issues on her blog, Re: The Auditors. This is really one of the deepest, most interesting sites I've found in a while. Well worth a look.

Re: The Auditors

Happy? No? Tell Us Why

Are you happy in your work? Do you like accounting, like your firm, or are you finding all the talk about "retention" and "demand" is way overblown? Firms say they can't find CPAs with four or five years of experience, but then we hear from CPAs they can't find good positions. So, what's your take on life as a 21st-Century accountant? Post a comment, or e-mail me at (We'll keep your name to ourselves.)

Friday, May 11, 2007

Speaking of Balance...

So maybe balance encourages ethics, but it also encourages discontent. For some reason, this doesn't surprise me. A survey by employment firm Adecco found that 20 percent of women, and 25 percent of men, say they have to pick up the slack for their "co-workers who are moms."

Few companies acknowledge any downside to work-life programs. Many send out press releases and compete to be among Working Mother magazine's best 100 companies, which weighs flexibility and time off.

Accounting firm Jefferson Wells says its policies are so attractive that 35% of its key managers are women, vs. less than 20% for Big Four accounting firms. Spokeswoman Colleen Grams says Jefferson Wells "may be particularly attractive to working moms," but e-mailed examples of men with flexible hours as they make the transition toward retirement.

Maryalice DeCamp, a mother of two teens and manager of 70 employees at Jefferson Wells' Philadelphia office, says that she knows of no undercurrent of resentment, and that fathers on staff can and do leave early to coach their children's athletic teams.

But the survey found that 38% of men say that mothers get special treatment.

Be sure to read the comments that go along with the article. Some are amusing, some are annoying, but you can sniff the resentment on both sides.

Poll finds resentment of flextime [USA Today]

Balance Encourages Ethics

Are you more ethical when you're happier? A survey conducted for Deloitte & Touche USA found you just might be. More than 90 percent - 91 percent, to be precise - of employed adults believe workers are more likely to behave ethically on the job when they have good work-life balance, the survey found. Sixty percent believe unhappiness at work can lead to unethical decisions.

Work/Life Balance Influences Workplace Ethics [HRE Online]

A Tough Day in Accounting

It's Friday, it's muggy in New York, the phone system is down, along with our Web servers. So it seems like a good time to wander around and look for television shows online. It's one of the joys of multimedia, allowing us to use our time in new and different ways.

NBC is nice enough to present a number of "webisodes" of its series The Office, including this one, called The Books Don't Balance.

I had to make this post on-topic somehow, didn't I?

The Books Don't Balance [NBC]

Thursday, May 10, 2007

I Shoulda Been...

For anyone thinking somehow they've "fallen into" their career, almost by default, career consultant Andrea Kay talks about perspective on the Asbury Park Press Web site:

So, let's clarify one illusion: Most people really don't know what they want to "be" when they're growing up. They are more like you than you think.

Second, you are not a stagnant being that becomes something and stays that way happily ever after. You change. Your priorities, interests and motivation change. Because of a personal experience or health concern, you may decide to change the focus of your work. I know people who have left corporate jobs and gone into education after seeing deprived children in Third World countries. I've met sales people who became health educators after a diagnosis of a particular disease. Did they grow up knowing they wanted to educate people on how to cope with diabetes? It never occurred to them until much later in life.

You may still want to be a rock star, but it's nice to hear a pep talk once in a while.

You're not as different as you think [Asbury Park Press]

The Five Hot Specialties

No real surprises here, but the Minneapolis-St. Paul Star Tribune explores today's "five especially hot jobs" in accounting: internal auditor, compliance executive, financial analyst, staff accountant, and external auditor.

"There's a huge demand for people with technical skills," says Amy Langer, a partner at SALO in Minneapolis. "The more technical a job is, the harder it is to fill." Accountants with at least three years of experience are especially in demand, notes Langer. This is due, largely, because the state changed the requirements to earn the CPA designation.

This Year's Best Accounting Jobs []

Working With Recruiters

A lot of people in a lot fields approach recruiters with a lot of misconceptions. On JobsintheMoney, Jon Jacobs provides some basic realities that can help you create a productive working relationship.

The first step is to understand their role in the hiring process. If you believe the recruiter’s mission to “help you get a job,” you hold a misconception that could leave you feeling disappointed and betrayed, even when recruiters properly goes about their work.

“A lot of candidates will contact a recruiter, and think that recruiter is working for them. They assume they are the recruiter’s client. In reality, the recruiter is working for the employer, because that’s who is paying the fee,” says Benjamin Normann, vice president at the Weatherly Group, a New York executive search firm that includes investment banking, private equity and hedge funds among its major niches.

Only 10 percent of all jobs are found through search firms, says Kate Wendleton, president of the Five O’Clock Club, a nationwide career counseling network. So, instead of relying heavily on either recruiters or advertised job openings, she advises putting more effort into researching and contacting potential employers on your own, and networking.

Jon's working on more on this topic, so if you have any thoughts, questions or war stories, post them here and we'll try to address them.

Fine-Tune Your Recruiter Connections [JITM]

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Using Google to Your Advantage

Jon Jacobs spotted an article in The Wall Street Journal about making sure you're not "unGoogleable." He summarized it on JobsintheMoney:

The Journal details how a name that’s insufficiently unique can make it difficult for prospective employers to confirm details on an applicant’s resume, such as published research papers. The newspaper labels such digitally invisible people as “unGoogleables,” and relates their complaint that “being crowded out of search results actually carries a professional and financial price.”

Read his item, or the whole Journal article.

You're a Nobody Unless Your NameGoogles Well [WSJ - $]
Don’t Be Digitally Invisible [JITM]

Re-Training in Illinois

The oldest graduate from Southern Illinois University Carbondale's business school this year will be Dennis Luehr, a 48-year-old former coal miner who earned his accounting degree after being laid off.

Nontraditional students aren't unusual in the university's accounting program, but Luehr's background as a coal miner set him apart, said Marcus Odom, the department's director.

"They all have different stories, but he's the first I know of to come from that direction," Odom said.

Luehr plans to take the CPA exam in December.

Former coal miner finds new future in accounting [St. Louis Post-Dispatch]

It Can't Happen Here - Can It?

Economist Alan Blinder told London's Telegraph that accountants are among the professionals in danger of finding their jobs outsourced over the next generation.

From the best accountants and lawyers to the smartest derivatives traders to teachers and lecturers, many of today's most prestigious jobs could, thanks to globalisation and improved communications technology, just as easily be done more cheaply in places such as India and China.

From reading his comments, both in the Telegraph and earlier this year in The Wall Street Journal, it's not clear the usually cited answer - "education" - is really going to do much to reverse the trend he predicts.

"We have to think more subtly about the types of education and it's not so obvious that there's a great future in America for computer programmers, accountants and for some types of lawyers - just to take three highly-educated people.

"Lawyers involved in family disputes, and criminal lawyers - they've got to stay around. But lawyers that write contracts, and lots of accountants, maybe that kind of education is not such a fabulous idea. Educating people to go into what I call the personal services is a good idea - some of which don't require all that much education - so electricians, carpenters, plumbers, roofers - skilled trades.

"This is a very new thought for the highly-educated, white-collar class to think that they may have to compete with low-wage foreign workers. Manufacturers have been doing that for generations. But accountants, lawyers, intellectuals?"

Blinder's view, I should note, is not widely shared by other economists. But in times like these, when too many jobs seem to be chasing too few accountants, it's worth keeping in mind, if only as a reality check.

The future's bright . . . but not for lawyers and accountants [The Telegraph]

From Around The Web

Monday, May 07, 2007

Accounting Confidence Dipping?

Despite the demand for their services, confidence among accounting and financial works dropped during the first quarter, according to a survey conducted for recruitment firm Spherion Corporation. The company said fewer financial folks believe the economy is strengthening, fewer reported confidence in the future of their employer, and the percentage of those expressing confidence in their ability to find a new job was unchanged.

For my money, though, the most amusing part of the press release is the company comment that essentially acts as if nothing had changed. Less confidence in the economy? Bah. "The demand that was seen last year for accounting and finance workers has certainly not let up" Not as much faith in the employer? Pshaw. "Employers are grabbing onto top performers as quickly as possible…"

We all know why recruiters do these surveys, and I think Spherion's report is a good one. But, c'mon guys - can't you just spin in a way that doesn't make our brains hurt?

Spherion Survey: Accounting and Finance Worker Confidence Dips 1.7 Points [Spherion]

Tread Cautiously on Exit

At InfoWorld, Bob Lewis posted an item about exit interviews that I thought was a bit skeptical, but still worth considering. He was asked by a reader how frank he could be in raising complaints about the company's internal communication. Part of his answer:

My best advice is to treat the exit interview as if it was an entirely legitimate activity, but without saying anything that would be unwise to say if you were planning to continue as an employee the next day. Bring up whatever points you think are essential, doing so as diplomatically as you can and without any sense of acrimony at all. If one of the subjects is a political hot potato, you stand much more to lose than you stand to gain.

What you stand to lose is that the business community in most cities is small, and you might find yourself wanting to work at this company again sometime in the not-all-that-distant future. What you stand to gain is nothing at all. Duck it.
How to handle an exit interview [InfoWorld]

White Males in Diversity Efforts

A number of companies are bringing white males into leadership roles in their in-house diversity programs. Today's Wall Street Journal profiles one such business - PricewaterhouseCoopers and tax partner Keith Ruth, who's taken on the task of becoming a diversity leader for his business unit.

None of the diversity leaders was a white man. But (Chris Simmons, PwC's chief diversity officer)believed that white men might pay more heed to diversity concerns if they hear them from a white man. "We really have to get away from this model of it just being white women and minority people," he says.

Diversity Programs Look to Involve White Males as Leaders [WSJ - $]

Friday, May 04, 2007

Ethics on Your Resume

Robbie Miller Kaplan, who writes the Ask The Expert column on JobsintheMoney, sent this:

For those of us who are honest and meticulous in presenting our resume credentials, it’s surprising to learn that approximately 50 percent of all applicants have faked resumes. Maybe you’ve been a little creative with a job title so it’s easier to understand, or smoothed out your dates to eliminate a gap. In over 20 years of resume consulting, I’ve always cautioned accuracy - and warned people to never claim education, work experience, or activities that they don’t have. Inaccuracies and lies have a way of catching up with you.

And so it seems that a faked resume finally caught up with Marilee Jones, the dean of admissions at Massachusetts Institute of Technology and
co-author of Less Stress, More Success: A New Approach to Guiding Your Teen Through College Admissions and Beyond. Recently, she had to resign from MIT after admitting she misrepresented her education - she claimed degrees she never
earned from three universities - when she was hired 28 years ago.

Then there's David Edmondson, the former CEO of RadioShack. He lied about his educational credentials and was asked to resign.

While these cases are high-profile, faked credentials are nothing new. In fact, their very existence has spawned a whole new industry that fact checks resumes for client organizations to ensure credential integrity.

But what about you? When you prepare and send out your resume, should you assume that employers will evaluate your credentials but not your integrity? Or,
should you hire a company to check and certify your resume credentials before you send it out, so an employer knows immediately that you haven’t lied? Amazingly, there are firms out there that will do just that.

I don’t have an answer, just a wish: That applicants scrupulously prepare and check their credentials - even pull out their degree, license, or certification to ensure it’s accurately detailed. If you check and re-check, maybe you won’t have to pay someone else to do it for you.

Interesting Headlines

This is job recruiting? Employers cater to the candidate [The Coloradoan]

T-Tree Accounting Launches New Website and Online Services [PRWeb]

E-mail may be hazardous to your career [CNNMoney]

Mentoring at Mid-Sized Firms

A lot of mid-sized firms in California are using mentoring, both to develop (and retain) their current accountants, but also as a way to attract new ones.

"Mentoring's required for middle market firms to be successful," says Scott Sachs, managing partner of the San Fernando Valley office for Good Swartz Brown & Berns, which has 110 employees in three California locations. "Most of the middle market firms I'm aware of put an effort into it in order to attract, develop and retain the best quality people. The relationship they build with employees gives them a sense of ownership, a close tie to the firm."

James Rubin's discussion is part of the twice-monthly wrap-up he does for JobsintheMoney, covering what's going on in the world of financial careers in California.

Calif. Wrap-Up: Mentoring a Key to Retention [JITM]

Thursday, May 03, 2007

Getting a Second Life

On the blog CPA Success, published by folks at the Maryland Association of CPAs, Bill Sheridan writes about how more CPAs are getting involved in the virtual world Second Life.

CPAs are expanding their presence in Second Life, and the MACPA and its members are leading the way. Following KAWG&F's lead, the association built its own SL headquarters and is now developing "CPA Island" in Second Life. Other CPA firms and organizations have expressed interest in creating a virtual presence on the island, and networking and business opportunities are sure to follow.

Sheridan says he's "hearing similar stories from other folks who have brought their business interests to Second Life: Contacts made in Second Life are leading to real clients, real business and real money in real life."

It brings networking to whole new level. But in truth, it's a notion that gets a little less outlandish every day. Even corporations - and I mean big corporations, including H&R Block - are setting up offices there. If you go, get some tips for making yourself look professional. I found some here.

It is so tempting. On the other hand, have you ever read Snow Crash?

Professions continue to flock to Second Life [CPA Success]

Recruiters and Google

Neil McIntyre, a blogging accountant in Toronto, wonders how many recruiters use the Web in their hunting. Noting that when he Googles himself, his site appears in the #1 spot of the search results (he was #2 in my search, but that's still pretty impressive), he asks:

So why is it that of the many recruiters I’ve talked to since passing the UFE, precisely none of them have mentioned that they’ve seen my blog? As noted in the first paragraph, it’s easily found. The whole thing is very puzzling.

This made me curious, so I Googled a few more terms: "toronto accountants," "Toronto UFE" and "Toronto accounting." On these Neil's site only appeared in the results for "Toronto UFE," in which it was a great #4.

And that, I think, hints at part of the answer. I'm betting recruiters don't go out and search on someone's name until they've already met them. If they're trying to gather names, a wider search is what they're going to use. Of course, why they're not looking him up after they've met him is another question.

Anyway, the moral of the story is: If you're thinking about your personal ranking in search engines, remember you want people to find you based on something other than your name - your concentration, your achievements, etc. In this day and age, that's an outcome that will be hard to obtain, but it's something to bear in mind.

And, I should point out Neil's is a solid, thoughtful blog. Though it's mostly about accounting in Canada, he includes posts on subjects of interest to most everyone, north of the U.S. border or not.

Are recruiters really using the internet? []

Career Changing Column in Times

The New York Times has kicked off a new column on shifting careers, written by former-lawyer-now-writer Marci Alboher, who crafted one of the best leads I've ever seen:
When Ted Greenberg left the field of suicide research to become a stand-up comic, he sent out a mass e-mail that began with the following…

Suicide research and stand-up comedy in the same sentence. I love that!

I mean, I can completely understand why someone might make that kind of move. But specifics aside, Alboher uses the anecdote as a jumping off point for a broader discussion of career changing, an increasingly common phenomenon that she proposes to explore on a regular basis.

After doing hundreds of interviews with people who created their own slash careers by following and combining various interests, I’m convinced we all need to shift around until we find the mix that’s right.

Until it’s no longer right, when we need to start shifting again. Because the idea of what makes a satisfying career is shifting. What satisfied us in our 20s and 30s, might not be what jazzes us in our 40s and 50s.

More on Praise

A couple of weeks ago, The Wall Street Journal posted a story about younger worksers' need for praise. Today, reporter Jeff Zaslow follows up with feedback and war stories from a variety of readers.

One reader pointed me to a storied moment in the career of conductor Otto Klemperer. He never praised his orchestra, until one day, pleased with a rehearsal, he uttered a curt "good." His stunned musicians burst into applause. The conductor tapped his baton on his music stand, silencing them. "Not that good," he said.

It's a fun story.

In Praise of Less Praise [WSJ]

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Asking for the Moon?

In the latest verse of the "jobs are going begging" tune, CareerBuilder said one of its surveys found that 48 percent of accounting and finance employers have current openings for which they can't find a qualified candidate.

But even while HR types publicly bemoan the tight labor market, recruiters privately tell us that employers themselves often choose to let jobs go begging. Inboxes may be chock-a-block with resumes that look like great fits. But with hiring managers demanding "walk-on-water" candidates for even junior-level openings, these assignments too often turn into revolving doors for both recruiter and applicant.

A local division director for a nationwide recruiting firm laid out this scenario: An employer posts an opening and gets two good candidates after three weeks. Emboldened by the strong response, the hiring manager raises the stakes. He or she holds back from making an offer, thinking, "If we wait a bit, maybe we can do better."

The two applicants accept offers elsewhere. After several more weeks another candidate shows up. While solid, this one isn't quite as strong as the first two. The hiring manager says, "We’re certainly not going to settle for someone who isn't as good as applicants we already rejected."

Next thing you know, the job has been posted for six months. By that point, the recruiter says, most qualified candidates will think something must be wrong with the job and/or the employer.

Is this an analog of the old Wall Street adage, "Bulls and bears can make money, but not pigs?" Maybe. But employers can cite valid reasons for demanding perfection, even at the cost of letting qualified candidates slip away.

Start with the ever-present risk that they might hire the wrong person - a mistake whose costs are greater than ever, from what we hear. What's more, there is at least some belief that today's robust economic and market conditions could reverse within 12 months. If the role that's open isn’t critical, both HR officers and hiring managers may be inclined to make do with less and work their present staff a little harder, rather than fill a slot that might vanish from the budget next year or the year after.

Hunting for CPAs in Oregon

The Oregonian reports on the scramble of Portland-area firms to bulk up their staffs, and the tactics they're using.

The firms that are most successful at recruiting and retaining employees offer more than money, says Dennis Johnson, managing partner at the McDonald Jacobs accounting and consulting firm in Portland.

"There is a giant trend toward more family-friendly policies," Johnson says. In a field renowned for 80-hour workweeks, stale takeout and caffeine overload, today's professionals want a life outside the office.

Mary Rotherham, a 2004 University of Oregon accounting graduate, recently finished her third "busy season" with Perkins & Co. She conducts audits for several of the midsize and large private companies based in Oregon that are Perkins' bread and butter.

But she's melded a husband and two children into her career, too. That wouldn't have been possible a few years ago at most firms, she says, and still is tough to pull off at one of the big national accounting outfits.

In the macro sense, you've heard it all before. In the micro, there are some names and contacts for people looking to make a move.

CPA firms dash from taxes to recruitment [The Oregonian]

The Top 100

Accounting Today has published its Top 100 Listings, ranking the largest U.S. accounting firms by revenue. Online, its presented in a nifty multimedia application, so make sure you've got bandwidth.

2007 Top 100 Firms - Paths to Growth [WebCPA]

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Digging Deep

How come when you apply for a job you have to provide references, but your potential employer doesn't? Sure, the company Web site's told you how great a place to work it is, and everyone you've met during your interviews has probably been very cordial. But how do you get the real story?

Google, for one thing. Network, for another. And make sure all of your interviews are two-conversations, for a third. Emma Johnson has the dirt on getting the dirt, on JobsintheMoney.

Getting the Lowdown on Potential Employers [JITM]

Strategies for the Over-40

JobMob, an Israeli blog for candidates, has put together an impressive list of 40 job-hunting tips (with links) for people over 40. Among them:

Midlife job seekers need a resume that looks forward, not backward. (No. 2)

Resist being put off by younger-sounding ads that use terms like fast-paced and multi-tasking. Growing a family requires tremendous multi-tasking skills, so know that you can compete with anyone. (No. 6)

Be sure to specify any recent professional training courses you attended in order to demonstrate your willingness and ability to stay up-to-date. (No. 24)

Don’t try to act young in your eyes, you will just look old in their eyes. Always be yourself- it has gotten you this far already. (No. 40)

40 Tips for Job Seekers Over 40 [JobMob]

Courtesy Stands Out

Jean Chatzky has a column about business etiquette in the New York Daily News. Reading it, I thought an awful lot of it was stating the obvious, and then I realized how many times I've run into people or situations where obvious things - like being on-time for meetings or staying involved in a conversation despite the fact your BlackBerry's buzzing - were being ignored. And, it's not just among younger people, either. All of us get so caught up in what we're doing we sometimes forgot the basics of common courtesy. So, take a quick refresher. The item's here.

On the job, courtesy pays off [NY Daily News]