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This is not common, but some new hires worry about not having enough audit billable hours, especially if this is one of the experience requirements for your CPA license.
Monitoring Audit Billable Hours of Entry-Level Accountants
It is the responsibility of managers, your counselor, staff planning and ultimately the office leadership to make sure you get enough billable hours.
If you are new, they may just be leaving your schedule open, because they don’t yet know what your strengths are, and will throw you in where they think you’ll fit best later.
But then, it could be an oversight. Managers and seniors are busy and they cannot monitor everyone on a daily basis. Here is what you can do .
1. Be Proactive
Speak to your counselor, see if this is “normal” or if he could help you dig up some more work. Then, speak to the seniors and the managers in your teams, and let them know that you have unallocated time. You could also email the person in charge of scheduling, and ask him to pass your name along to anyone needing assistance. This will show some major initiative on your part as well.
2. Be Friendly
You can also get to know people in the office by speaking to them by the coffee machine or any informal hangout area, letting them know that you exist and that you have unallocated time.
3. Do Your Job Well
Do well on your engagements, and people will start picking you up if you ask them if they need help.
How to get into accounting after graduation — that is, without the help of career office and on-campus interviews. Is it possible? Certainly, and let’s see how you can do it.
1. Online Job Search
Monster.com , indeed.com and linkedin.com are good places to start. Be sure you call up local recruiters as well.
2. Cold Calling
Given the main pipeline for entry-level accounting jobs is university campuses, you have to take extra steps and start cold calling recruiters.
If you graduated recently or if you do not attending the target schools (i.e. firms don’t hold interviews at your campus), call up HR and explore the possibility of a phone interview, or attending an interview at a neighboring school. You need to be persistent and follow up diligently to get the time slots.
Outside of cold calling and applying for jobs, there isn’t much you can do beyond good ol’ networking.
4. Getting into Campus interviews
I heard from a reader who enrolled in a 1-year master’s program with the main goal to attend the school’s recruiting fair. This strategy can get quite costly, but it is one of best ways to put yourself in front of many firms.
It is 3 am. You don’t know what the heck you are doing. All they told you is to look at last year’s papers and follow what they did last year. That makes you feel like you are just pushing papers. On top of that, you have been working late every night and have no idea why.
The “they”, of course, are your seniors.
You want to quit so bad. But should you? Could you? Here are your options.
7 Ways to “Manage” Your Audit Senior
1. Backing Out?
You can always choose to leave the firm, but I don’t think it’s a good idea.
First, you have worked hard at school and at the recruiting process to get this job. Why give up everything because of this person you despise? You owe it to yourself to create opportunities for you. Besides, 5 different seniors will senior you 5 different ways. Don’t let one bad apple ruin the orchard.
2. Talk to Your Peers or a Mentor
Ask peers you trust about their experience. Don’t complain or spill your guts. Just throw out questions on how they receive feedback from their seniors. At the very least it gives you a realistic expectation of a typical audit senior.
If you don’t really trust anyone in the firm, see if you can talk to ex-colleagues or friends outside the firm. Then ask for their honest opinion.
3. Take a Step Back
Now, analyze the situation and identify the root of the problem. Is it due to one particular senior? If so, speak up to your counselor and HR contact. Unless you say something, people don’t know that you are unhappy and struggling.
You may say that client doesn’t fit your interest and you want to move into a different industry. In my opinion, it is best to tell the truth – that you feel like you are not getting enough training. I understand that it could be an awkward conversation, but as long as you present it professionally and matter-of-factly, it is fine.
If the issue is lack of job satisfaction, try looking at the overall audit and its purpose. Spend some time in understanding your client, their operations, and their challenges. This will make you a much better auditor down the road.
If the issue is that you dislike everyone in the firm, or that your learning style doesn’t fit in with the team’s, then maybe it’s time to move on…
4. Aim to Last Longer than Your Senior
Assuming that one particular audit senior is the issue, I suggest that you wait after the busy season. Your senior is probably on his way out after that. His apparent lack of interest in you (and possibly in his job) indicates that he may be looking for opportunities elsewhere.
5. Vent It Out!
In the meantime, if you are still angry, vent it out to people you trust, or do this anonymously at forums, or in the comment section below 🙂
6. Build a Relationship with Your Client
At the same time, start building a good relationship with your client. It echoes the third point on understanding your client: people appreciate your effort, and practically, it makes your life as an auditor much easier. For example, you could ask them for all sorts of supporting schedules late at night and they wouldn’t get upset.
In the long run, you earn yourself an option to work for this client, and do a great job because you understand their operations so well.
7. Figure out Your End Goal
Where do you want to end up in your career? This is an important question because it determines how long you need to stay.
If you don’t even know what you want to do yet, staying in public accounting isn’t going to hurt anything. It will end up helping you in the long run.
Specifically, try and stick it out for 2-3 years (and YOU become senior), then leave if you are still unhappy. You will then realize the name on the resume is invaluable and very helpful when you leave.
Question: Should I Request Changing Audit Team?
Yes, but think carefully before proceeding. Here are the reasons:
First, you might end up with another crappy senior. Another request for change might be met with eye rolls at a minimum or a rep for being flaky and demanding.
Second, even if the above isn’t true, you still have limited options to change. Once you take steps to change team, expect to stay there for a while. You can only request changes a limited amount of times before people assume there is an issue with you.
If you work in Big 4 long enough, you’d see seniors come and go. Hang in there!
Auditing is by no means a glorious job, and what you are experiencing happens on every team, in every office, in every state. But you need to just take things in stride and give it your best.