Knowing what you want in a CPA firm goes a long way toward helping you make the decision as to which firm you’d like to work for. And it’s a hard decision to make.
You want to find a position that comes with job security, provides you a living wage and works with your schedule and work-life balance needs. Ideally, you’re looking for an environment where you feel comfortable working there to build your career, a firm that you can stake your reputation on.
Where can you start your search? Start within. Here are a few tips to lead you in the right direction.
Check Your Values
Make a checklist of your values and compare them with two to three firms you are researching. Typically, accounting firms will list their values right on their website, or even in their tagline. If your No. 1 priority is accuracy above everything, and that is their motto, too, then you may have found the perfect fit.
If they hire with diversity in mind, support coaching new minds and growing from within, you may be aligned with those values as well.
Do your research and make sure you understand their brand and how they run their business with core values in mind. This is just one step you can take toward ensuring your chosen firm is the right one for you before you seek an interview.
Some professionals have strong beliefs that they should either come in to the office or should be able to work from home.
What if you have an urgent dental appointment or your child is sick? Does the job work around your schedule or will you experience pushback and lost career opportunities as a result of being away from the physical office or from taking time off? You want to find an employer who respects your human side and even helps you keep your health and your family’s needs a top priority. In essence, does the firm support your idea of work-life balance? (See our previous blog for more information on that subject.) If so, this may be the place for you.
Room to Grow
How much growing do you expect to see in this role? You may be looking at this firm as a stepping stone, or maybe you are dead set on pursuing a path toward partner. Ask questions during the interview if the position enables you to grow in your profession. Ask how. What is the path?
If you are already an established professional and don’t require any additional titles or responsibility, then find a position in the practice area or industry you desire. Explore the tasks you would like to perform day-in and day-out. Training is a necessary part of the integration process at a new firm, but after you’ve learned all of their processes, you want to make sure you’re content with fulfilling your role’s main duties on a weekly and yearly basis.
After a time, you may still find yourself interested in obtaining new skills or maybe you want more time to give back to the community. When perusing their website or social media, make sure the firm allows lateral and vertical growth. If this is something you’re already thinking about, make sure you apply for a firm that supports cross-training.
Most CPA firms already have target client niches established and carved out. There are small business CPA firms and there are those that work with high-net-worth individuals or families. Some are especially well versed in affordable housing and not-for-profit work like here at LvHJ.
Think about the kinds of clients you would also like to work with. This is the meat and the potatoes of the job. You want to be happy working with your clients. If you don’t understand or respect the clients’ industries, then you will want to continue your search elsewhere.
Look through your potential company’s social media channels. Read their blog. Read through any material they provide on their website regarding culture.
Are their employees rewarded for being high achievers? Do they look happy in their photos on social media?
Contact the firm and ask if you can take a tour of the building and actually see people working in their environment. This will give you a feel for how employees interact with each other, how often or possibly not at all.
If you’re passionate about volunteer work or giving back to the community, try to find a firm that exudes that personality on their social media. Some firms even post pictures of social outings; whether they’re bowling, eating together or planting trees. Before you make your final choice, try to get a feel for the people you may be working with. You may be working with them every day!
Subconsciously, the lighting, temperature and ergonomics of an environment affect how our minds and bodies perform on a daily basis. Are you a subdued person and like your own personal lighting? Can you bring a favorite lamp in to make yourself feel more at home? Each firm you visit will have its own desk set-up, access to natural light and even dining rules. Some firms allow you to eat at your desk, while others have a lunch-room-only policy. Which camp do you fall in? Do you feel comfortable in their lunch room?
Determine whether the firm has more of a collaborative environment or independent working environment. Is the office inviting? Could you bring your kids or your pets there? If the answer is yes, then you may have found your match.
In the end, when you’ve whittled your list of firms to a chosen few, it can be easier to send them your questions before you request an interview. During the interview, make sure to have a tour, see the lunch room, meet a partner if you can.
Whether you’re looking for work as a public accountant, audit professional or tax expert, your journey has only begun. The next step is the exciting part. Good luck in your search!
If you have any questions about the culture at LvHJ, please contact us.