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Am I going about this all wrong?

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#1 diligentlearner



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Posted 15 April 2014 - 05:59 AM

Hello everyone. This may sound unusual but here is where I am at:


I am a licensed attorney that is ready to leave law and become a CPA - I am still under 30. I am eligible to take the CPA right now (I plan on taking AUD this month and I'm confident I'll pass as long as I keep it up). The only accounting experience I have is working at a small company fixing their books and assisting them with coming up with processes to prevent errors in the future. I have been there only a few months but I feel I have learned a lot.


I am looking for a new position but I have not received any interviews or positive responses so far.


The thing is that I know I can do these jobs. I don't know if it is because no one else where I work is an accountant or because I am good at what I do, but accounting seems easy compared to law in my humble opinion. I've seen some positions with requirements like these that I do not understand:


  • Need at least one year QuickBooks experience

I had never used QuickBooks before my current job and it took me about one week to figure it out. I am not sure why someone would ever need an entire year (or more) to learn QuickBooks.


  • Need 1 (or 2) years relevant accounting experience

For many of these smaller companies, their accounting is not rocket science unless they are selling collateralized mortgage obligations or something like that. The bookkeeper I work with now has been there about six years and I have been the one to explain to her how to book this, that, and the other thing. I am not sayng she is a bad bookkeeper, just that no one ever told her these things. I can't help but feel I will still need that week or so to get the hang of any new company regardless of whether I have six months or five years of accounting experience.


  • Need to know VLookup

The only reason I haven't learned this is because I haven't needed this yet. Does my potential employer really think that I will just throw my hands up and say "I don't know Vlookup, I don't know what to do!" ? There is a course I found online that takes 30-40 minutes. I am willing to bet I could learn everything I needed to know about Vlookup for my job a day or two before I ever started. And it might take me maybe an hour (I could do that at lunch!) to learn it at work since I would know what I would be specifically using it for.



I also have a PTIN and I'm in the process of also becoming an authorized IRS e-filer.


I might also have a government clearence but I have to check if it is active and current.


I also know how to create nonprofits and get a 501c3 tax exemption from the IRS (I would consider this to be related to accounting).


I see all these jobs I know I can do but I haven't had any interviews or offers yet. I have spruced up my resume as best I can and I write out customized cover letters for each position. Does any one have any thoughts or suggestions about how what kind of accounting job I could get with only a few months experience, being a CPA candidate, and for at least $15/hour (I don't think I am asking for much - I realize I am starting over in a sense). There must be something someone will hire me for.

#2 Virgil-redux


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Posted 15 April 2014 - 07:26 PM

A few things:


1. 90% of good accounting related jobs are obtained through on-campus recruiting via internships or job offers right after people graduate. This is mostly in response to increased competition among the best students, so companies feel like they have to reach these recruits early.


2. Because of #1, that means what you're applying to is, in a sense, the leftovers or the clearance items of the job market. There are some diamonds in the rough, such as when companies grossly under-hire, but for the most part there's a lot of mediocre to crappy entry-level jobs out there.


FYI, if they mention Quickbooks, this is probably a crappy accounting job. 


3. Looking for specific prerequisites like advanced excel skills and accounting experience is much more of a filtering tool than anything else. So, the majority of the time people aren't looking at your resume and saying, "Lawyer...CPA eligible..bookeeping-like experience? But he's never used Quickbooks..". It's more like they will they just look for candidates that meet basic criteria. There's no real outside-the-box thinking involved in the initial screening process.


At the end of the day the info just listed is to say one thing: Relying solely on online job postings is a waste of time.



Look, my advice is this:


Keep your job, but begin networking. Don't you know any CPAs or accountants you can reach out to? Linkedin networking groups? Hell, any networking groups would work. If you have started taking the CPA exam, go ahead and start going to your local CPA society meetings and network. 


Point is, get your name out there and swishing around the ether. Hell, just emailing recruiters at local or regional CPA firms might be a good bet. Just explain that you're looking to transition into accounting, have had some exposure through it in your current role, and here's your resume. Basic Cover Letter stuff in an introductory email form. If you're social and presentable then maybe dropping  by the actual office in a suit and tie with your resume is also a good opportunity. 


Regardless, I think your best chance is to try and do a couple of years in public accounting and then transition into industry in a good company (your basic accounting job working for a company).

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