Should CPAs Switch Jobs During the Busy Season?
Intense pressure and exhausting days can make it tempting to jump ship. But is the long-term résumé stain worth the short-term sleep gain?
April 17, 2008
Sponsored by The Mergis Group
by Jack Causa, Senior Vice President and Group Executive, The Mergis Group
When accountants hear the expression busy season, they instantly conjure up a calendar that begins on January 1st and flips through with rising speed until a gigantic deadline slams into them on April 15th. These are the weeks when most tax professionals are inundated with morning-to-evening client appointments, IRS forms to complete, receipts to inspect and 10-key calculators to be put to the speed test.
This traditional crunch time is so tough for public accounting firms, that they're forced to continue their recruiting efforts during the first quarter. These offers can sometimes be unusually aggressive if the firm is desperate enough for help. Even the most loyal tax accountant who is on the receiving end of such a recruiting contact can be tempted by a busy season overture; but should CPAs switch jobs during the busy season?
In general, the answer is no, unless there is a significant personal consideration beyond your control, such as moving to follow a spouse who has been forced to relocate or help care for a family member who is ill or injured. Here are a few reasons why it's typically best to stay put until the busy season has concluded:
Centered around the first calendar quarter, the busy season in public accounting is the period when most audits occur, tax returns are due and professional services are in the highest demand of the year. As enticing as it may be to walk out the door of your current job during this time of intense pressure and exhaustive schedules, there needs to be a driving force beyond your control to justify making a job change during this window of time. Otherwise, you might leave a blot on your résumé that is tough to explain to future employers.
For most CPAs, the wise course is to ask the recruiter who contacts you during the busy season to get back in touch with you in May. In the meantime, it's probably best to smile and stick it out — and keep that calculator moving.
Jack Causa, CPA, is Senior Vice President and Group Executive at The Mergis Group. Causa is responsible for the management and operations of the Mergis Group, a division of Spherion that provides specialty professional recruiting and placement services across a range of professional disciplines, including finance and accounting, information technology, engineering, sales and marketing, legal and human resources. Causa has more than 25 years of experience in the professional recruiting industry and joins Spherion from Callaway Partners, a professional services firm, where he served as the partner responsible for the company's staff augmentation business. Prior to that position, Causa held leadership roles at Jefferson Wells, where he was a managing director, and Kforce, where he was president of finance and accounting. He began his career at PricewaterhouseCoopers.