May 28, 2019

What to Consider When Evaluating Your First Accounting Job Offer

Jason LehanskyBy Jason Lehansky

You studied hard, completed internships, earned your degree, and now you are ready for your first post-graduation job. When looking at offers, what should you evaluate to make the most informed decision you possibly can?

The logical first consideration is salary. But be careful. It is too easy to simply focus on the actual salary number instead of looking at the full picture. Consider the overall compensation package, which includes other important benefit offerings such as the company’s 401(k) contribution, personal days, and eligibility for merit and bonus compensation. For example, KPMG offers a total rewards package with both immediate and long-term financial benefits, such as paid time off, work flexibility, summer hours, health insurance, and other financial benefits. Keep in mind that your needs will change as your career progresses, so understand all potential benefits from the outset, even the ones that may not apply to you now. These items may have more long-term value than your starting salary.

Job InterviewLocation is another key factor when considering an offer. Whether you are looking for a temporary or more permanent location, understanding what an employer can offer will help with your decision. Do you have an interest in business travel? Does a global rotation seem appealing? Or do you prefer to grow your career in one location? KPMG, for instance, offers countless options through its Global Opportunities program, as well as transfer and rotation programs. When deciding which location is ultimately best for you, consider cost of living, personal interests, and personal ties you may have to that location (family, friends). The right location will help ensure you made a good decision.

The accounting profession can have a reputation for long work hours, especially during an employer’s busy season. Public accountants work with a variety of businesses, while corporate accountants become experts in specific industries. Whether in public or corporate accounting, longer hours are typical at certain times of the year, such as at the end of the budget year or during tax season. Use this time as an opportunity to learn and grow with your team. You will not go through busy season alone, and although the hours are longer, this does provide a great opportunity to bond with your team and hone your skills. The good news is that it’s called busy “season,” so there is an end to it. You will have time to find work-life balance and take some personal time to reenergize.

Finally, it is important to evaluate an employer’s culture to determine if it is in line with where you see yourself. What does the employer focus on, and is it important to you? For example, does the company value being a good corporate citizen and offer opportunities to get involved? Is diversity and inclusion valued? Does the employer offer formal education and training programs, leadership development opportunities, or mentoring to continue your learning? You will want to accept an offer from a company that shares your personal values and goals.

Deciding on your first career appointment can be daunting, though it really is quite exciting! The most important advice I can offer is to stay true to yourself, your goals, and your career aspirations. Be sure to consider a company’s complete package to ensure you successfully land an ideal first job. Good luck!

For more tips on evaluating a job offer, check out Episode 4 of the Pennsylvania CPA Foundation’s “Work Your Way to CPA” podcast series. All episodes of the series, as well as additional resources to help you successfully reach CPA status, can be found on www.picpa.org/workyourway.

Jason Lehansky is an associate director, campus recruiting, Pennsylvania and Chesapeake Region, for KPMG LLP.

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Statements of fact and opinion are the authors’ responsibility alone and do not imply an opinion on the part of PICPA officers or members. The information contained in herein does not constitute accounting, legal, or professional advice. For professional advice, please engage or consult a qualified professional.