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.