The Big 4 Breakup – Part 2 – Am I Relevant?


Part 1 of our Big 4 Breakup series, “The Big 4 Breakup – Consider These 5 Things” created a lot of feedback when our founder Joe Diubaldo first published it as a LinkedIn thought piece.  He then wrote a second thought piece in response to numerous requests for more information. Here it is, republished as a blog.

As I had previously iterated, I can’t say enough positive things about the training and experience that comes from being with a Big 4 firm. Equally, I often see candidates struggle when making arguably one of the most significant transitions of their careers. So roll up your sleeves, read on, and get ready for your next move.

Step 1: Accomplishments and mindset 

This is typically where candidates struggle the most. Being introspective and objectively evaluating our own skills and qualifications requires that we be willing to acknowledge that we are not a fit for certain things.

  1. Take stock of what you’ve achieved: Likely, as you are readying yourself to leave your firm, you may feel like you’ve conquered a lot (and you have). University degree, recruitment to a Big 4, transitioning to a demanding full-time job, and completing your designation all within a relatively short time. Not to mention life events (friends, family) and it becomes quite the highlight reel! Take a moment to be proud of what you achieved.  You’ve been performing and progressing at a rapid and not necessarily sustainable pace.
  2. Shift your mindset: Moving into your first job out of the Big 4 is an opportunity for you to shift from a performance mindset to a growth mindset. You’ve had a very focused role in public accounting and the skill development has been focused on a very specific area. What I am saying is that now is the time to do the inventory of the skills and experiences you’ve acquired and account for those you have not. You need to know the value that you can bring to the next lucky organization to have you.

Taking stock of what you’ve accomplished and then articulating it clearly in under 20 seconds will do more than develop a sales pitch. This process really helps you internalize what you’ve done and what you love to do.  Practice with your friends and family, especially those who are not accountants.

Step 2:  Understand relevance, gaps and outliers
People have a tendency to draw correlations or see patterns where they may not actually exist. As you enter the phase where more and more of your colleagues start to move on you will hear the hero stories. They make six figures, went to CFO in six months, or had so many offers they could barely decide. Don’t believe the stories or the rumours. Seek advice and support from those that you trust and have a close relationship with.

  1. Typical Next Step:  You’ve spent time in audit and tax and developed competencies in reporting. The typical public accounting path positions you for a job in one of those 3 areas. Therefore, the roles more readily available to you would naturally come from that experience.

    1. Internal Audit
    2. Tax
    3. Financial Reporting

These types of roles have easy and direct correlations making it easier to connect the dots here. Line up the job profile and your current experiences to compare them

2. Atypical Next Steps:  If you are looking to transition to a role that is more strategy based, client facing, or business partnering then you must consider if you have the composite of skills required to be successful. If not, these roles are less available. I didn’t say unavailable – I said less, and that’s an important difference. This is where candidates tend to feel frustrated or are disillusioned. You need to be realistic about where your gaps in experience are in order to build the best bridge possible to get them.  Articulate them, write them down and start subdividing them into core skills and highlighting which ones you are missing.  The example below uses red to highlight those that are missing:

Business partnering skills needed to go from Big 4 to industry.

You then select your next role based on whether or not it helps build the competencies and related core skills.  Wouldn’t it be nice to “know” what the right next step should be instead of hoping that it materializes for you?

One other interesting thing will happen with this exercise – you will be able to clearly articulate your relevance to others which increases the breadth of opportunities you will be considered for.


Your Next Step
No one should walk the job search or hiring road alone. At Clarity Recruitment we help others realize their success through a process that marries proprietary technology with unwavering commitment. Contact us today to take control of your career, or to partner with us to hire well.

Clarity Recruitment, connecting exceptional people with remarkable companies.

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