Career Change: “I’m working in private, can I switch to public accounting?”

career change

From the Bean Counter mailbag!

Hi Andrew:

I graduated 3 years ago with bachelors degree in Accounting (Overall GPA 3.5) and since I’m working in private accounting. Currently, I’m working as a Financial Analyst at large manufacturing company. Do you think changing a career path to public accounting after so late would count against me? My reason to switch to public accounting is that I want to expand my knowledge of accounting profession and like to have more career opportunities open for me in future.

Second, where I live we have a presence of only 1 accounting firm out of Big 4 and they have a very small setup as they have very few clients here, though I wouldn’t mind moving somewhere else if given an opportunity with Big 4. Does your program Get Hired By Big 4 Accounting Firms provide any guidance on how to target big 4 outside my state or city? Also, would that program include resume or cover letter assistance?

Sorry about the long email.Thank you very much and I would highly appreciate your advice.

When I started working at PwC in 2011, I was surprised to learn that many of the people I was working with already had years of experience, not at other firms, but in private industry. Many companies out there for a poor job of something that accounting firms generally to quite well: promoting you.

While not all firms do a great job, the larger public accounting firms have a vested interest in moving you higher and higher within the firm, especially for the first 5 years (after that get’s a little tricky as the move to being a partner is MUCH more complicated)

People came from all types of backgrounds, small private companies, existing clients of the firm, large public companies, start-ups, etc. So yes, you can absolutely make the move. You will normally be brought in as what’s called an experienced hire. This means your given more credit and higher pay than someone straight out of college.

However, if you’ve only worked in private, don’t kid yourself. You won’t know ANYTHING!

The course Get Hired By Big 4 Accounting Firms can absolutely help someone in your situation. The most relevant things I can think of are:

  • 5 Resume templates
  • Cover letter template
  • Script for email accounting firms to get an interview
  • 5-part interviewing series

The best part is that you’re willing to move. When you live in a small city, sometimes you have to be willing to make sacrifices to find the best opportunities! The course will help you not only with Big 4, but any accounting firm you’re interested in.

EMAIL ME: If you want a 1-day free access pass to the course.

I also provide a high-level review for anyone who joins the course and full resume, cover letter, and action plan preparation separately if you’re interested!

All that being said you need to think if this is really the best step for you. You will most likely be taking a step back in your career for a few years. Your bosses may be the same age or younger than you if they started straight out of college. You need to be prepared to spend 1 whole year being uncomfortable and not knowing what your doing going from one team to the next, one client to the next, being pushed to learn something new everyday! Not to mention working 50+ hours a week plus travel!

If you’re feeling you career growth isn’t happening where you are, I recommend you also look at other private companies while interviewing at public accounting firms. Consider ALL your options upfront. You don’t want to be 3-months into a new job wishing you had never sent me this email!