Job hunt

When NS and I were in college, we almost missed the public accounting hiring season. It’s not intuitive, but you quickly find out that public accounting firms hire entry-level positions about a year in advance. Most new hire classes begin sometime between September and November. Therefore, if you plan to work as soon as possible after graduating with an accounting degree, you should be sending out resumes during the summer between junior and senior year so that in the fall you can take advantage of on-campus interviews. By the time Thanksgiving rolls around, the new hire classes are usually filled. 

Using this background knowledge as a precedent, we started contacting recruiters about ten months before we intended to move to Grand Cayman. Although some recruiters seemed interested, the feedback we received was primarily that 1) the firms we were interested in working for wouldn’t know their hiring needs so far in advance; and 2) with the worldwide economic downturn, firms were hiring fewer new people, and very few new hires with zero hedge fund/financial services experience. Our tropical island dream all but died at that point. Besides, we were on the cusp of a fresh busy season at our firms in New Jersey, and with fewer staff than in the previous year (again, due to the economy), we had plenty of work to keep us occupied and out of the job market.

Busy season came and went. We spent some time traveling in late April/early May, per our norm, allowing ourselves to exhale after the traditional winter craziness.


Once we returned from vacation, NS mentioned that he wanted to try applying one more time. He first contacted the afore-mentioned recruiters and received similar feedback about the slow job market in Cayman. But instead of accepting this as a final answer (NS is very persistent), he decided to send resumes directly to the public accounting firms. This made sense to me; this is often how accountants find public accounting jobs in the States.

The firms on the island with a physical presence include the Big Four, BDO Tortuga, EisnerAmper, Grant Thornton, Rawlinson & Hunter, and Rothstein Kass. We sent resumes to almost all of them. As my dad would say, all you have to lose is the postage stamp. Well, I didn’t even have that to lose, as we submitted all of our resumes online in mid-May. Within 2-3 weeks, we had responses from two interested firms. By the end of the process, we had interview opportunities with all but one of the Big Four, as well as other firms.

Through the job hunt process, we discovered that Cayman firms do in fact begin the hiring process a year in advance (in the fall) like the U.S. firms, but there is a “catch-up” hiring push in May, once busy season has calmed down and they can evaluate their hiring needs for the following season. This is the push we happened upon.

While interviewing, the firms related that due to their widespread presence, any applicants from related offices would be given first right of refusal. However, moving to a Caribbean island, as exotic and enticing as it may sound, is a big ask for some. Many may show interest, but few commit. As we were not coming from firms with a physical presence of the island, we banked on the hope of rejected offers as we interviewed over the phone.

After we received offers from two firms, we (mostly NS) did a fair amount of research related to living conditions on the island. An important part of this included utilizing Facebook and LinkedIn to connect with accountants who had moved to the island, picking their brains as to their personal experiences. NS talked to seniors at both firms we interviewed with, and he also found an American from the mid-west on LinkedIn. These resources proved to be invaluable as we evaluated whether or not the Cayman opportunities were right for us.

Other points we found interesting while interviewing:

  • The largest employer on the island is one of the Big Four firms, with approximately 150 people. At the time of our interviews, only three of these people were Americans. In fact, most employees are from various countries around the world, which makes for a miniature United Nations experience within the office.
  • Phone interviews were sufficient for our potential employers. While we would have gladly boarded a plane at a moment’s notice to interview in person (and offered to do so), our interviewers were satisfied with phone conversations. 
  • One of our interviewers was an American from Kentucky who had married a Cayman native. It was interesting getting an American perspective on the island. One thing she said that stuck out to me was that traffic on the island moves much slower than in the States. She related that when she’s back in the States visiting family, all she wants to do is get in a car and drive 70 mph.
  • Both firms NS and I interviewed with were comfortable hiring us as a married couple. This posed yet another decision about whether or not to work together for two years.  (Everyone has an opinion on whether or not this is healthy for a marriage, and the discussion could fill an entire blog post, so I'll spare the debate details.)
In the end, NS and I accepted similar positions from two different firms. We’ve always said that in a professional setting, we would work well together. However, working with different firms will allow us to expand our network beyond one workplace. Hopefully, two firms will result in at least twice as many friendships.


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