Career management – employers going bust or to India

Sunday, May 17th, 2009 - career coaching, career management, career planning, credit crunch, Immigration, Job Application, job relocation, job search

Career Management

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Glenn, an accountant, asks: In the past 15 years, 80% of my past employers either went out of business or outsourced most of the jobs to India and closed local operations. Those companies have had: 5 (private), 75 (private), 2200 (public), and 375 employees (public). With the exception of one where I was there for 5 years, I find myself looking for a new position every 1-2 years. I began using LinkedIn about 6 months ago when I found out that my current company is being closed. I did not know it existed before then. I hence conclude that I seem to be picking the wrong companies to work for. During an interview, how do I tactfully ask about the financial security, potential of closure or sale of a company?

In answer:
Great question Glen, but I think the answer is in your own hands.

As an accountant, you know like every business professional that in five years, 80% of the businesses that start today won’t exist. Most will have gone bust, the rest merged – and in 100 years, few if any will be around. Secondly, the shift to India and other low cost countries is purely a matter of globalisation of the economy. Indian workers are better skilled for lesser rates of pay, so anything manufacturing related if the price of oil/transport/distribution stays low will move there. Hence this will speed the closure/failure rate of companies in established economies, as knowledge transfer occurs.

However, I think there is a third issue, which you seem to be missing. Businesses are started to make profits and create wealth. Hence, if someone comes along and says to the owner “I’ll give you X for the business” and the owner concludes that is more than he values it at, then he will sell. You need to be involved in that valuation process to be aware/influencing of those choices.

I think the answer hence to your question is three fold:

  1. Much as though it is on the wrong side of the bat, you have excellent experience in preparing the accounts of companies for sale, and realising the value of those companies. If you were – as appears the case – unaware of their potential sale/closure, then surely that says the owners didn’t get best value/could have survived longer?
  2. I think you need to reposition yourself long term, either with your own business or as an expert accountant in profit improvement and accounting for potential business sale
  3. Where you do work, you need to get more strategically involved in company operations and decisions, and probably more socially involved with the owners of any company. That would allow you to both pick up on the early signs of choice, and be wholly aware/influence them

Go back to your CV/resume, and think about how it is positioned. The types of jobs you are applying for need to be board/sub-board with an emphasis on profit and enabling strategic owner choice. Having done that, you can ask all the strategy and detail question you like in interview:

  • Where will this company be in 3/5years (A fair question for any job applicant)
  • What would change that goal, outside economic patterns
  • How often do you undertake strategic and tactical goal choice
  • How would you use your accounting function to enable both tactical and strategic choice
  • Having been involved in a number of company sales, how would you involve the accounting function in assessing realisable value

Accounting should be at the heart of every company, and many business choices. Making sure you are in the centre makes you aware and able to influence/choose – oh, and get paid better!

Good Luck!

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