With many businesses going global and with many more having plenty of international influence in regards to business practices, now more than ever is the time when many CPAs are working abroad. Couple this with the fact that millennials today increasingly also want to work overseas and you've got the perfect match for how your firm can retain top talent both domestically and internationally.
Many millennial CPA Exam candidates who love to travel and want to get outside their comfort zone will look for accounting jobs abroad once they graduate or once they've passed the exam.
However, many are unsure of what a "good" international job entails and are even more overwhelmed when researching firms that have international offices. In addition, they're also uncertain as to whether or not they'll be able to work abroad immediately or if they will need some experience first.
Here are 2 routes you can take to help you get to where you want to go.
Route # 1: Visit your country of interest & set up meetings
Plan a vacation to your country or countries of interest. Let’s say: France and Germany. Then make a vacation out of it! This is important especially if you’ve never been to any of these countries to make sure it's a place you wouldn't mind being in for a while and you don't run into any major bouts of homesickness.
Plan an itinerary and before your trip, reach out to 20+ accounting firms or large private companies that you would be interested in working for. If you stick to larger companies, they may be able to help you afford some of the costs of hiring an international person--such as visa and citizenship costs. It will be extra helpful if you have already passed your CPA Exam so that they know you're officially certified.
Once you have your list of 20+ companies, send an email to specific people--not job postings. Finding out who the hiring manager or recruiter is will help your chances. Send them your resume, cover letter, and the dates you will be in town. It would be even more beneficial to send that email to at least 3 people in each company.
Your email could look something like this:
Subject: Appropriate Person Hello [FIRST NAME], I’m writing in hopes of finding the appropriate person who handles new hire recruiting. I also wrote to Other Contact 1 and Other Contact 2 in that pursuit. I am currently a student from [INSERT NAME] and will be graduating in [INSERT GRAD MONTH AND YEAR]. I have attached my resume and cover letter for your review. I am eager to discuss the opportunities with [INSERT COMPANY NAME]. I will be in [COUNTRY] on [INSERT DATES] and would love to get together for a cup of coffee. After I graduate, I will be moving to [COUNTRY] and will be looking for a full-time position. If you are the appropriate person to speak with, what does your calendar look like? If not, who do you recommend I talk to? Best regards, [INSERT FIRST & LAST NAME] Mobile: [INSERT NUMBER] Email: [INSERT EMAIL] [Attach Cover Letter & Resume in separate PDFs]
This will hopefully allow you to have a quick phone interview before you go, and set up an in-person meeting when you arrive. The most important thing is to keep following up until you get a response.
Route #2: Wait a few years
The other option is to wait a few years. All major accounting firms have international opportunities--especially the Big 4 and Top 25. You can have the opportunity as early as the Senior Associate level (2-3 years after being hired), but it’s much more likely you will go as a manager (5-6 years after being hired).
If you're looking to work abroad sooner, we obviously recommend Route #1. However, if that route doesn't end up working or if you don't mind waiting, don't give up on your dream. Pursuing route #2 will work just as well!
Whichever firm you eventually get hired from or have interest in, reach out to them and ask them what their abroad opportunities are. Then ask what you can do or what their expectations are for you to obtain that position. Do great work, show that you're ambitious, and be persistent with reaching this goal. This will reflect your ethics and personality and give them assurance that you'll do equally great work in representing them overseas. It may even help you get there faster.
Remember to explore both routes and see which one works out. Good luck and let us know how it goes!