As an accounting professional, landing a role with a big-name firm can be a career-defining move. For the rest of your career, that line item on your resume alone can help facilitate introductions and filter your application to the top of the pile.
However, the day-to-day life in public accounting can be slightly less stimulating, depending on your personality and work style, after the initial excitement wears off. If you happen to be placed on a team that doesn’t prioritize work-life balance or your path to personal development isn’t clear, the days can become repetitive.
After a few years, it’s very common for large firm accounting professionals to reevaluate their long-term goals. If departing from the ladder-climbing path at the firm is high on your list, there are some potential appealing alternatives. Here are our top 5.
Smoothest Transition: Internal Audit
If you are currently conducting internal audit work in your large firm role, this option may seem counterintuitive. However, internal audit roles at outside companies can boast much better work schedules and allow the opportunity for a consistent schedule and workflow. Working with various levels of professionals across the firm to conduct continual audits can be more engaging and less stressful than some public accounting jobs.
Adjacent Shift: Technical or Operational Accounting
For professionals who one day wish to be a Controller, a shift to operational accounting could be a beneficial move. These roles often entail handling monthly and fiscal year closings, as well as various journal entries. Another route – the technical accounting path – involves preparing financial filings to assist in the mergers, acquisitions, and other complex transactions. This type of accounting job can be a welcome change while still utilizing the skills honed during your big firm experience.
Larger Move: Finance
Though accounting and finance are often lumped into a similar category from a larger industry perspective, you are well aware that the roles and responsibilities differ greatly between these career paths. In most cases, finance opportunities are sought after by existing finance professionals (traders, operations analysts, bankers, etc.) looking to move up. While accounting candidates may be considered, you should be cognizant of the fact that applications will have competitive candidate pools.
The best way to break into the finance realm is often to be hired onto a finance-adjacent team as an accountant, then gradually make the lateral transition within the company. This strategy can help circumvent the long-odds application process and help build connections along the way.
There is always the option of “getting out” of accounting and starting over completely. Want to be the numbers person at a startup? Comfortable applying for entry-level roles in a totally different industry? You absolutely can. The average worker makes several large career shifts in their lifetime, so don’t let the inertia of your past experiences compromise your future happiness. If you are looking for a drastic change, it’s never too late to pursue one.
Develop a Plan
When presented with this wide breadth of post-large accounting firm options, the best path is often to work with an executive search firm to develop a plan. A qualified recruiter will help you define your strengths, outline your goals, set expectations for the future, and navigate the job market in the realm of your choice. This can be initiated before you have left your current accounting job, helping smooth the transition and relieve financial pressures from your personal life.
If you want to start the journey of exploring post-big firm opportunities, there has never been a better time. In a candidate’s market, those with experience at premier firms stand to exact leverage in finding their dream roles.
Talk to a Job Market Specialist
Having the right teammate in your job search makes all the difference. Partner with a trusted and proven Rochester recruiter who can help you catalyze your big-name firm experience into the future role that aligns with your goals. To tap into a vast network of industry professionals and gain access to dozens of accounting jobs in the Rochester market, contact a recruiter at AP. We’re ready for you.