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Type casted as "Tax Accountant"

The first job I took out of college and still hold is with a CPA firm in the tax department. 2 years in I realize I really don't like the overtime, constant condescension, and that taxes aren't what I want to do for the rest of my life. I have been applying like crazy to places, hardly getting a response and when I do get interviews it is either for another CPA firm doing taxes or an industry job where I'm told that I don't have the experience that they are looking for because I am a tax accountant which is very specific. Am I missing something or was the education and minor bookkeeping work I've done really not have me prepared for a general accountant job? I have done bookkeeping for some large clients at my firm, and some general bookkeeping at my last job in college. I don't want to be type casted as a tax accountant and would really like to change careers, but I'm beginning to feel stuck. Is this a problem anyone else has had, or knows how to get out of?

Answers

Topic Expert
Christie Jahn
Title: CFO
Company: Prime Investments & Development
(CFO, Prime Investments & Development) |

What does your resume say? Is it tailored more around "tax" wording and language?
As CPA who has strictly done taxes with little or no industry experiences, you could be viewed as having too specific of a knowledge base. I have worked the other side and general accounting / bookkeeping is completely different than looking solely from a tax perspective. Taxes are very black and white; other industries are not.

If you are getting interviews - that's a good sign, so then I would ask how are you answering the questions? You may need to broaden your answer to show you do have some general accounting knowledge - talk about the bookkeeping work you have done.

You may want to consider taking an entry level accounting job with a small private firm for a while to gain experience. Your education is fine; it's applying it in real world situations you are missing. Reading a concept in a text book is not the same as applying it in business. Hope that helps a bit.

Anonymous
(Staff Accountant) |

That helps a lot and I really appreciate the advice. I may need to have my resume professionally written as I'm not very experienced with resumes being fairly new to the market after graduation. I work at an extremely
reputable firm in my area and guess I thought the name and experience alone would carry a little more weight, but an entry level general accounting job may have to be the direction I go.

Anonymous
(Accounting Supervisor) |

I went through this exact situation this summer. My wife and I were expecting our first child and I no longer wanted to put up with busy season. I worried about getting pigeonholed due to my tax experience just about everyday.

I applied for a controller position at a nationally known company that happened to be a client of my firm (I had nothing to do with the client in my role as a tax accountant). I "tweaked" my resume to highlight the small amount of audit, bookkeeping, etc. work that I had done, including my tax work to a much lesser extent.

Before my interview, I read up on GAAP concepts that I needed a refresher on in case they asked technical questions. I wouldn't know the concepts cold, but I could at least be dangerous when talking about them. I ended up getting a job offer and here I am.

And honestly, auditors are just tickmark monkeys anyway (totally not biased). Don't let yourself think they are any more suited to an industry job than you are. Start portraying your tax experience as a valuable skill to your new employer. My new company is privately owned, so I have the opportunity to save my owners money right off the bat by doing some of the work previously performed by our CPA firm.

One last piece of advice - get promoted to senior before switching jobs. Even if in reality it means nothing at a CPA firm, it shows a prospective employer that your old company believed in you to some degree.

Ava Isla
Title: Accountant Manager
Company: Find Accountants Ltd
(Accountant Manager, Find Accountants Ltd) |

Fine, I recommend you that you apply in accountancy college or consult with a professional accountant in Birmingham. They ll guide you better and suggest you the right way.

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