It’s recruiting season for both accounting firms and accounting major college students. During this time of year when events such as Meet the Firms and Career Fairs take place on college campuses, recruiters from different firms and students from different walks of life come together to fulfill what each are looking for in an ideal candidate and employer.
To pay homage to recruiting season, we’re interviewing several recruiters from the top 35 firms across the nation to learn more about what makes their recruiting process unique, what their biggest challenges are, and what they believe are the main qualities candidates should possess to be successful in their accounting careers. Yesterday, we featured McKenzie Campana from Armanino, LLP. Today, we talk to Katherine Charchalis from BDO USA, LLP.
Katherine has been doing campus recruiting for 5 years and graduated as an Economics and Business major from Lafayette College. Her natural flare for her field stems from her parents, who are both accountants. What drew her to work for BDO is how the staff exhibits the firm’s core values on a daily basis.
What makes BDO unique in the recruiting process?
We have a very strong presence on the campuses we recruit because we’ve built an internal network between BDO and alumni from these colleges. We really make an effort to not only connect with students through multiple events on campus, but also outside of school by taking them to lunch or inviting them into our office so we get to know each other in a more relaxed and casual environment.
In doing so, candidates are able to see who we are, who they’ll be working with, and get a better idea of what their day-to-day will look like should they start their journey with BDO. We find this is more helpful in their decision-making process because they don’t have to face the same stress levels they do during interviews and can more calmly get a realistic sense of what their future could look like at BDO.
Additionally, we offer candidates the opportunity to work with public and private clients while also getting that small office feel. This shines through in our recruiting process since we can be flexible in several methods such as allowing candidates to intern with us in one office and be transferred to another. This is something we’re happy to do because we understand that interns are still exploring opportunities. We want to give them the best guidance and help them make the most educated decision while also allowing them to grow here at BDO.
How does your recruiting process reflect your firm’s values and/or company culture?
Whenever someone asks me, “What does BDO do?” my response is always the same: Our Core Purpose is helping people thrive every day.
Our core purpose is an umbrella over all of our recruiting methods and strategies. So whether we’re helping a student connect with certain professionals so they can build their own network or allowing them to switch offices or business lines, our purpose for them is to help them thrive in whatever way we can.
One way we do this is by having students speak with junior level associates who just went through the same interviewing and hiring process they’re going through. They can ask more candid questions that they may be too nervous to ask a partner at the firm, and form a mentorship that extends well into their career at BDO.
Forming these types of networks to help our incoming talent thrive is reflective of our culture and is something students can experience from Meet the Firms events to their on-boarding, and beyond. Providing personal and professional development is crucial as it introduces them to the values of our firm from the very beginning.
What is the most difficult challenge you face as a recruiter and how are you working to overcome that challenge?
A challenge that has turned into a nice opportunity is standing out from other firms as the employer of choice. We are given the opportunity to attract students who like what we have to say and connect with our professional and personal values. We’re growing and it’s an exciting time to be part of BDO. We are able to demonstrate to students that we are a national firm with the resources of a global network, but still have an inclusive culture that most people associate with a smaller practice.
However, the challenge is helping students figure out what type of firm is best for them. We differentiate ourselves by highlighting our culture and talking about the aspects that make us unique. For example, we love highlighting our great volunteer opportunities, support for the environmental, and how we have a depth and breadth of resources around the world with an intimate, relationship-driven company culture.
What are the most important factors when it comes to recruiting top talent at schools?
I would have to say confidence with a hint of humility. Students are still getting to know the industry and acquiring the skills that will eventually be needed for this type of career, so what really strikes me is someone who’s confident and also has a very strong willingness to learn.
I also like to see students who have different experiences outside of accounting that they can extract skills from and apply to an accounting internship. I think it’s important students understand that we as recruiters aren’t always looking for the person with the most accounting experience under their belt; rather, we’re looking for someone with a strong foundation of skills they can build upon and develop. What will make them successful in their careers is using those skills to network, learn, and research so that they connect with us as a whole through those different avenues. I believe these factors create well rounded, top talent candidates.
What is your best piece of advice for students going through recruitment?
Make sure that your personal and professional values are aligned with the firms you’re interested in. The only way to do that is to get to know those firms, such as what they have to offer in both their culture and their people. Be open minded and get to know as many people from different firms as you can. The more you explore, the more you can narrow down which firms align with you, and that’s a great way to start a very good, professional relationship with your future employer. Take that as your first step and you’ll find that the rest will fall in place.
Other articles in this series