This article on accounting firm rejection is part two in our New Fall series “Notes From The Recruiting Trail”.
Don’t miss the first article on the timing of accounting firms hiring efforts and how to reach out to all firms (not just those on campus).
From the mailbag:
Dear Mr. Argue,
Hi. I am Ricky, the recent Economics graduate from University of Kansas. I have read The Bean Counter accidentally and I love your posts. I found that it is very helpful for my recruiting. I wish I could have read your blog earlier.
Nonetheless, I am seeking advice regarding my current situation. I have just graduated from college in August. During the last fall, I tried to reach out and join the Big 4 during information sessions. Since I do not have a high GPA, I was surprised when I was invited for the on-campus interview by 3 of the Big 4 firms. However, I ended up not receiving any job offers from the firms (even though I made it to the in-house interview for one of the firms).
The question is, should I try to apply for the Big 4 again?
I heard some recruiters said I should first spend a few years working in some regional or local firms. Once you get the experience, you can apply as an experienced staff. On the other hand, I am afraid that applying Big 4 firms again this year would hurt my chance since I did not have any significant work being done during last year.
Sorry for writing a long email. I really appreciate your help.
I remember the first time I interviewed with the Big 4.
It was for a summer leadership adventure.
I didn’t get the position.
I was heartbroken.
So what did I do?
I spent the next year working on the things that might have caused me to not be chosen.
I say “might” because you usually don’t know.
I focused on my GPA (was in the low 3’s).
Became Vice President of Beta Alpha Psi (then President).
I won a National Speech Competition.
I got 3 part time jobs.
A year later, I could have basically chosen what firm I wanted to work at.
Just because I was rejected once, didn’t mean I couldn’t work for that same firm a semester or even a year later.
In fact, I know a guy who applied to a firm 4 times. Rejection, rejection, rejection, rejection.
On the 5th time, BOOM! He got the position and still works there to this day.
There are so many reasons why you may not have been chosen:
- Your timing to start didn’t work for the firm
- The office you chose didn’t have a need
- You happened to have a bad interview with someone
- The culture wasn’t a fit at the time (maybe you’ve matured)
- You don’t have a good GPA
- You don’t have work experience
- You aren’t involved on campus
- You could also – just plain suck
Any of those issues could be the reason you weren’t chosen.
However, if you’ve already been asked to do interview, I think you’re problem is interviewing.
Even if you have “problem areas”, if you are a phenomenal interviewer, you can overcome any issue.
The reason is that once you are at the interview: they are interested in you!
There is no major alarm, nothing obvious that holds you back.
It’s up to you to lock in the position.
One of the biggest problems I see with people going through recruiting is a lack of self-reflection and a tendency to blame others.
Here’s a surprise for you:
If you didn’t get the position, it’s your fault! Period.
Good news about that, if it was your fault it’s also within your control to fix.
When you blame others, it relieves you of needing to change.
So yes, I would re-apply even if you got rejected.
But before doing that, I would honestly ask yourself: what went wrong?