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Strategizing and working it

March 25th, 2012 at 03:45 am

Two month status report: two months ago, I was suddenly and unexpectedly laid off from my new (3 month) dream job.

The first month after getting laid off, I got right back out, meeting with a staffing manager at a local accounting-oriented staffing firm within days and applying for jobs, but I did so a little willy-nilly.

During February, I had five interviews, three in the third week of the month. I got three rejections on the following Monday, and that really felt like a sucker-punch to the gut, as much as the original lay-off had been, probably because my coping resources had already been drained by the layoff.

It took me a little bit to get my footing again. I took a week to focus on studying for the new Registered Tax Return Preparer exam (which I took and passed....still waiting for the IRS to finish its tax compliance check before they issue my certification).

I also decided that it was time to strategize.

I decided to get a professional resume upgrade, and I spent one phone session with a career coach who specializes in coaching accountants. I'm also going to work on my interview skills and go back to my college alumni center and have a mock interview taped, in case it is the interview that is holding me back.

It's been extremely frustrating having tax season go by without doing more than a few free tax returns for friends and family. The very first thing I did, the morning after the lay-off, was to look at Craigslist for ads for tax season help--which were all placed the first week in January, and all filled by the end of the month, when I was laid off. But I figured that, with a month to go, some firms might be feeling some pressure, so I placed an ad in Craigslist advertising my availability for last minute help. So far, I haven't gotten a response from that. I also leveraged the ad by finding a local group of accountants that meets monthly and arranging to attend their meeting, with a copy of my Craigslist ad and my business cards near the sign-in. Still no takers, but a couple of people did take my cards, so I'll be curious to see if that strategy garners any calls.

When I got home from that meeting, there was a message waiting from another accountant--one who knows one of my professors who knows about the lay-off. I went in Thursday for an interview, got hired (for a dollar more per hour than my last job), went in Friday to join the office pizza lunch and meet the staff and explore the new-to-me tax package by doing my own return on it.

The job is part-time, so if I get any response from the ad, I might be able to do that as well.

For the next three weeks, I'm going to focus on doing taxes, plus work on preparing my interview answers, and I'll schedule that mock interview.

I'm also preparing a list of desirable employers. Most major metropolitan areas have a local business journal, and business journals produce a "book of lists" which lists each of the major players in an employment category. I've subscribed to my local business journal for a couple of years and have their book of lists, and I also special ordered the Philly book of lists in accounting. Many of the firms are in Center City, which is an unrealistic commute because of traffic, but about 10 of the firms are north of Philly and about an hour away from me, which is commutable (not that I *want* an hour each way commute, but I would accept one at this point).

I've also been planning for some informational interviews right after tax season.

I've decided that I am really two jobs away from the job that I want--first I need a job that will expand my skills and experience a bit, then with more experience and a more polished resume and interview, hopefully I will start landing jobs.

In the meantime, I have part-time work for the next three weeks and possibly beyond. My new employer also changed careers--worked as a computer analyst, then had 4 kids and was a stay-at-home mom for several years, then went back to school in accounting in her 40s (as did I) and passed the CPA exam shortly before her 50th birthday (as did I). She got her experience working for a firm for several years and then bought into the firm, and eventually bought her old boss out, and acquired another practice as well. Even if the job doesn't pan out to be long-term or more than full-time, I am very hopeful that I have found a mentor.

4 Responses to “Strategizing and working it”

  1. frugalgirl Says:

    Good luck! You are certainly doing everything you can to land the job you want. Hang in there! Sounds like the new boss is the perfect mentor.

  2. PatientSaver Says:

    That sounds very promising, Dido. Every little bit helps. Are there any local Linked In groups that are worth joining in your field as well?

  3. Dido Says:

    P.S., Yes. I actually maxed out my allowable Linked In groups (max = 50) yesterday and had to start deleting groups. About a quarter of the groups I belong to are local business groups and the rest are accounting/tax/QuickBooks focused.

    I've been putting this off just because I hate to see the money going out of my pocket, but I have decided that I need to join the group whose meeting I attended on Tuesday (for $185/year). That's the group that most of my previous (and current) bosses belong to, and I already know 10% of the chapter members. This is the group for really small accounting firms.

    Partners at the regional accounting firms don't bother with this group. I need to belong to both groups...the group for small accounting firms is where I am right now, and the firm more focused towards regional accounting firms is my "aspirational group." In order to finish my CPA license, I need a job at one of these larger firms to satisfy the audit/assurance requirement. Tiny CPA firms do not do audits. Or, another possibility is that PA CPA law will change--the current issue of PA CPA Journal noted that there is a group working with legislators to get rid of this requirement, which is a sticking point for many others who have successfully passed the CPA exam.

  4. Jerry Says:

    The thing that leads me to feel hopeful about your situation is that you have been very proactive in your search, and also that you have found a potential professional mentor. Both of those offer some insurance of a bright future for your work life, and I wish you well!
    Jerry

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