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Finding an Accounting Job Outside the Big Four Public Accounting Firms

Written by AnonymousJuly 6, 2011
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The Big Four accounting firms remain highly visible presences when it comes to on-campus recruiting. This is because, unlike small firms, these employers have the resources for well-established programs for recruiting recent graduates. Also, the accounting departments at many schools often push their students toward bigger firms, because placements at prestigious companies make the department look good to prospective students.

Still, many smaller firms can be excellent employers. When hiring new employees, smaller firms require the same quality educational training as the Big Four.  In fact, smaller firms aren’t able to provide the same entry-level training for new employees and therefore may tend seek out the strongest, most well-prepared candidates when hiring.

When smaller firms do use the on-campus recruiting process to engage prospective employees, they tend to emphasize the sometimes considerable advantages of working in a smaller organization. Their presentations may be more intimate and informal, and usually stress the fact that new employees have more opportunities in a smaller firm and can make a bigger impact faster—- as compared to working at a Big Four.  Although Big Four firms definitely offer prestige to new hires, they also notoriously demand long work hours and can be rigid when defining the job roles and reach of new hires.

But working at a smaller firm isn’t the only job alternative available to accounting grads who aren’t interested in working at the Big Four. You can also find excellent employment opportunities in private industry or  government institutions. Whether a company is private or public, profit or nonprofit, it’s highly likely that they have some kind of accounting role. You may have to do a little Internet research to determine just what is out there, but the time you spent looking for employment opportunities will pay off with more job choices.

In order to help you select an ideal employer, it may be helpful to outline specific qualities you’re looking for in a company, then compile a list of potential employers based on this criteria.

Be sure to carefully review the websites of companies that interest you — most of them will have a link to open positions and will let you apply directly online. But remember, when it comes to landing a great job, many times it’s who you know — not what you know.  Be sure to network heavily among your contacts and find a contact that works at the company you’re most interested in working for. Having an internal contact who can put in a few good words for you can be invaluable and can help you stand out from other applicants.