Accounting Assets – How Do You Get a Job in These Uncertain Times?

How do YOU get a Job in these Uncertain Times?

By Craig Wilson

Last Friday I picked up the Wall Street Journal Asia Edition as I boarded a plane to come home from Seoul, South Korea. Three articles caught my attention. First was a report on the CFO Network entitled “Long-Term Dreams, Short-Term Despair”.  Second, an interview with UBS Chairman Axel Weber called “Europe’s Crisis Will Be Solved. But Not Quickly.” Then, a few pages further in, “National Lampoon’s European Vacation” – how could I not read this article. These three articles combined to paint a bleak picture for the job market, not just in the short-term, but for the indefinite future.

Saturday morning the Star Tribune reported “Stocks Soar on European Deal”.  Did everything change in a day? The European Union (EU) had come up with a plan to bail out Spain’s banks. So does that mean that all of the “despair” over the crisis was unnecessary, that the EU finally has a plan for the future that will bring stability back to the economy and better job prospects? The same Star Tribune article was quick to point out “traders have seen their optimism dashed before.” Mr. Weber stated in his interview, “There is no single fix from a one-weekend meeting that will solve all the problems.” Discussing Europe, Hans Hoogervorst, Chairman of the International Accounting Standards Board, told the Wall Street Journal, “The best we can expect is a prolonged muddling through.”  I think it’s fair to say it’s good that the EU is trying to solve the financial problems, but there are some deep seeded issues that will need to be addressed for a long-term solution.

That brings us to the “National Lampoon’s European Vacation” article. While Rome burns – financially at least – they don’t have to worry about being sick while on vacation. The European Court of Justice ruled that if you get sick on your vacation, you can get another paid vacation. On top of that, the article says that in France you can earn an extra 10 days of paid leave if you work 39 hours a week rather than the 35 hour maximum. All I can say is wow! The French have a national minimum of 25 days of vacation already.  This entitlement mentality is the biggest stumbling block to long-term solutions to their financial crisis.

How does this impact us? We live in a world economy – if Europe suffers, we suffer. Spain’s unemployment rate is 25% – 50% for young Spaniards. That impacts our economy and job market. Europe needs to start emulating the work ethic I saw in Seoul. People were bustling and yet, seemed genuinely happy.

But this blog is about you. How do you get a job in these difficult times? First, it starts now, while you’re taking classes. Apply yourself to the course work, as astronaut Gus Grissom told the workers at an aerospace factory, “Do good work!” Get to know your program chair and instructors. Most of us have a wealth of industry experience to help you. Get involved in things that improve your soft skills, like DECA and other club programs. Join a professional association. For example, the Minnesota Society of CPAs has student membership available for a nominal fee.

As graduation nears, be proactive. Work with your campus Career Services director. Be creative in contacting potential employers. When I got my first job in accounting we were in a deep recession. I didn’t have a 4.0, and was like a lot of you, an adult student, married with two kids. I completed my degree part-time at night. I needed to do something to make me stand out to a potential employer to even get an interview. So I did. I knew that I had a depth of maturity and the ability to be unafraid to introduce myself to anyone. I thoroughly researched firms and found out who the recruiter was and called them directly.

I got them interested in talking to me before they got my resume, because I knew that just seeing what was on my resume wouldn’t get me in the door. It worked. I ended up with multiple offers and chose the firm I wanted to work for. If you’re willing to fully apply (pun intended) yourself to the job of getting a job and use your creativity and all the resources available, you will succeed. Emulate the Koreans – work hard and genuinely love what you do!