Recruiting season is my favorite season of the year; forget spring and summer! But while recruiting season is a lot of fun and really helps you get your foot in the door for your career, needless to say, it can also be stressful. For many accounting students, this is your time to shine and really ensure that you have a job after you graduate. But luckily, I’ve lived through it enough to help you navigate it smoothly and easily. And one of my top pieces of advice is to start preparing for recruiting season in the summer–while you still have time.
As far as accounting recruiting goes, you will maximize your chances by recruiting in the fall rather than in the winter or in the spring.
Recruiting tends to happen within the first few months of the fall term. However, if you start your recruiting work during the summer, you can get ahead of the game and all the preparation out of the way before you have to start going to class, taking exams, and submitting assignments.
Before I keep rambling on, you’re probably thinking: Who would spend their summer preparing for recruiting season?
Summer is for relaxing, sitting on the beach, and forgetting about that horrible Statistics final that was designed to torture students. Let me clarify: I’m not saying to spend every hour of every day writing cover letters or researching companies. But, if you can set aside one hour a day or one day a week to doing your recruiting homework, you’ll thank yourself during the fall semester when you’re watching Netflix and your friends are scrambling to edit their resume and write a compelling cover letter one hour before applications are due.
Now that I’ve convinced you to prepare for recruiting during the summer, here’s what you should do now and why.
1. Prepare your resume and at least one cover letter
- Having your resume complete by the first day of fall term will allow you to spend less time crafting your resume, and more time to go to networking opportunities that you think will be beneficial to you.
- Also, if you have at least one cover letter done, in the worst-case scenario that you have an essay due or a midterm on the same day as a job application deadline, then you can reuse the cover letter and change the company names. (I wouldn’t recommend using the same cover letter for every job application because recruiters often can tell that the cover letter has been reused, but if you’re facing tons of deadlines then a reused cover letter is better than no cover letter at all.)
2. Speak with a career counselor at your college’s/university’s career center
- Career counselors are great resources to help guide you through the recruiting process. They can offer some great career advice, help you perfect your resume, and find problems in your cover letter that you wouldn’t catch. In one of my meetings with a career counselor, the counselor told me all the tips and tricks of our school career website, which helped me scope out future Big 4 events on campus and job application deadlines.
- The perk of seeing a career counselor during the summer is that they are generally not busy in the summer. In contrast, if you try to book a career counseling appointment in the fall, they are probably booked weeks out. Most colleges and universities keep their career centers open in the summer, albeit for shorter hours. Check with your school for specific career center information, especially during these changing times.
3. Do some research about which line of service would best fit you
- Most accounting firms have three main service lines: Audit, Tax, and Advisory. Each service line has their pros and cons, and there may be one that is the best fit for your personality. If you do some research before starting the recruiting process, you may find the one that calls out to you, and if you find “the one” your recruiting search can be targeted towards finding opportunities in that service line. But, don’t worry if your research doesn’t help you pick a service line, because most firms hold networking and info sessions to help you decide.
4. If you have any friends at the firms you’d like to apply for, ask them if they can connect you to the firm’s recruiting team
- Do any of your friends work at EY, PwC, or any of the firms that you want to apply to? Or maybe one of your professors works or used to work at an accounting firm?
- If you have any connections that have a tie to a company that you’d like to work for, ask your connection to help put you in contact with the recruiters at the firm. Worst case scenario, they will say no, but there is no harm in asking.
In summary, prepare early, research thoroughly, and always ask for help. Getting a head start will give you the advantage of being doubly prepared when you are networking with recruiters and professionals. When a recruiter asks you for a resume, you’ll have one to give them. If a recruiter asks you “Why are you interested in X firm?”, you’ll already have an answer prepared from your research. Being prepared makes a great first impression, and a great first impression is invaluable when recruiting.
–Lysern Marcelino, Guest Blogger for UWorld Roger CPA Review