As the recruit season is already beginning, I would like to share my top five tips on how to survive the upcoming CPA recruit. This advice is coming from my own personal experience, so you don’t have to agree with everything I say. However, I can promise you that I have enough experience participating last year to know how it works from initial events to insider events to interviews.
- Design your own business cards
Make sure you use every point of contact to your advantage. As much as the Beedie School of Business pre-formatted business cards are great, truth is, if you order those, guaranteed many other CPA Recruit candidates will have them too. Not saying you won’t get the job because of a business card that looks like others, but why not use this point of contact to your advantage? Why not stand out from the rest of the crowd? At the end of the day, only the ones who want to be remembered will be remembered. Customize your business card and make it something that represents you in one simple piece of work. If you do, that means when you exchange business cards at the end of your conversation, the representative will take a step forward and comment on how your business card looks. Hopefully they will say something along the lines of “wow, that’s different. I definitely will remember this one!” If you are even more confident, put your face on it. This will help representatives remember you, especially if you’ve made an impression!
- Freshen up on your networking skills
Attend the CMC’s networking refreshers or ask for help from a Career or Co-op Advisor. I know what you’re thinking–“but I don’t want to look like I am clueless!” There are so many people in the same boat as you so take advantage of the resources that are available. I would not be where I am today without the CMC or the co-op staff. Trust me, they’re extremely welcoming! And if you are not comfortable with them, try talking to a Business Career Coach–I am one, and I can assure you all my fellow coaches are amazing people. They really want to help you. We are all still studying, so this might be a good option for you if you think the Beedie offices are a bit intimidating. These networking events are where you define yourself, so make sure you know what you are saying. From the moment you step into the room, you are being judged–as scary as that sounds it is 100% true.
- Be yourself and be confident
This is the most important point–be yourself. When you are yourself, your qualities shine through and leave an impression. Representatives are smart, they can sense everything. Don’t try to lie your way out, don’t try to be someone you are not, and definitely don’t try to pretend you’re interested in something that you really aren’t interested in. You might think that you’re really good at hiding it, but really all your emotions are displayed on your face. This will only leave a bad impression. Don’t get me wrong, some people are really great at playing the game, but you’re bound to let your guard down at some point during the event and this is when it will damage your reputation negatively. Even if you make it through this event, you may forget the persona you establish at a prior event and the discrepancy will be a red flag for recruiters. Just don’t pretend, it’s not worth it. When you are yourself, you can connect with representatives on another level. You can talk about interests apart from work, and establishing rapport on that level is what gets you remembered. Even if you don’t have many points in common with the rep, if you genuinely have something you are passionate about, share it with them! They’ll love hearing about it if they can see your passion shine through.
- Prepare well for interviews but not to the point of memorization
Do your research. This tip not only applies when you get an interview but also before every networking event. Research the firm, its values, the representatives, community initiatives, anything and everything you can. Use it to your advantage as they can make good talking points. If you are interested in some of their clients or involvement in the community, take note of that because if you ask representatives at events about these points, it is likely they will be impressed by your knowledge. There are always students that attend events just for the sake of attending so use the information firms provide you to stand out from all the rest. Trust me, they’ll know when you truly know their firm inside out. However, never memorize a script of what you are going to say. You will sound unnatural and representatives will pick up on this so know their firm and use those points as scaffolding to get your message across rather than memorize.
- Don’t be let down when you don’t make it
We all start from the bottom and until we develop those connections with the firms, we won’t feel like we belong to the team. Throughout the whole recruiting season, you will begin to get a sense of different firms and their culture. By the end of it, you will know which firm is your top choice because you will feel the most comfortable with them and a sense of belongingness to the team. You will hear “it’s all about the people” a lot and as redundant as each firm sounds, it really is about the people. Firms will build up your confidence and make it seem like you belong with them if they like you. However don’t be fooled when you don’t make it. Trust me on this. I didn’t get my first choice even though I believed that they invested a lot to tell me I belonged there but guess what? Believe in yourself and your ability to accomplish things at any firm. If they don’t choose you, don’t be let down. Find another firm or you can always try again next year. Never let the lack of an offer letter define your capabilities because you define your own future so take control and make yourself proud of how far you’ve come.
It is going to be one long year of recruiting events so be prepared, be yourself, and most importantly, have fun. You may not believe me at this point but really, you get the most out of events by enjoying yourself and enjoying the company around you. Trust me and good luck!
Liz Yeung is a 3rd year Beedie student concentrating in Accounting and MIS. She has been involved as a Beedie Career Coach, completed a Co-op term at BDO Canada LLP, competed at UNICC 2017 in Spain, and is currently on exchange at the National University of Singapore. Apart from on-campus involvement and academics, she is passionate about cooking and baking, and enjoys stand-up paddle boarding and exploring nature through hikes. She believes that SFU offers students so many ways to represent Beedie at various levels and so Liz challenges students by asking “why not take advantage of them while you’re still here?”