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Gaps in CV (depression and failed exam)... Will I get into Big 4? watch

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    Hello,

    I am going to apply to the big 4 for their audit programmes and will be applying to regional offices. I would really like some advice on how to handle some gaps on my CV.

    So, I got ABB in my A-levels about 10 years ago (including a B in Maths). I then went to Bristol and got a First class in Economics. I did an internship at an economics consultancy in my summer after graduating and then worked as a Research Assistant for two years in the economics dept in Bristol, during which time I co-authored a few papers that have been published in academic journals, presented at an international conference and co-authored a report for the Welsh Assembly.

    After that, I went to Oxford and did the MPhil in Economics. During my 2nd year I took a year out due to depression caused because I wasn't happy doing the course, a relationship breakdown and my parents splitting up. I took the time out, got myself right and spent about 6-7 months working as a chef. I returned to Oxford to finish off but failed one of the final exams, which I returned and passed the following year.

    Between failing the exam and resitting and passing it I got a job in management consultancy in the public sector (as well as having done some A-level tutoring and doing some more research assistant work in Bristol). I am still in Management Consultancy 18 months later but want to get out hence applying to the Big 4.

    So, I'd like to know firstly what chances I have of getting in? Secondly, I'd like to know what approach to take in disclosing this? I have read a lot of contrasting pieces of information on this issue so thought I'd explain my situation and see what views are out there.

    It will certainly come up at some point in the application process and when it does I will present it positively (I am actually very proud to have come through it and got the degree in the end, as well as generally turning things around) and also emphasise it was a one off and will not recur. I can also back this up with references from my academic supervisor and someone from my college.

    However, what I'm interested in is how to handle it on the initial application? I was thinking that I should highlight I had time out for health reasons that are no longer a concern and that I can provide references to this effect but not to go into details from the outset. Not quite sure how to handle the failed exam though.

    Basically, I just want to get through the initial sift because I am confident I can nail the aptitude tests and I generally interview well. I'm just aware that I need to handle these issues very carefully if I am to give myself a fighting chance.

    Anyway, sorry for the incredibly long post and thank you to anyone who offers advice!
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    Why do you have to go for a big 4? Cant you go for a smaller cmpany?
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    I don't know anything about depression but I would be very surprised if you didn't get through the app form. I applied to all and got past each with a much less impressive cv. They will probably only ask about gaps in your cv at interview when you can talk about it positively. Having said that you need to apply soon because places are filling up fast for all service lines!
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    Maybe call HR anonymously as ask what you should disclose or what could effect your application. I'm sure if you ask they would be accommodating. I agree with the poster above, your cv certainly sounds better than most applying for graduate jobs !
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    You can't apply for a graduate position because you're not a graduate you're an experienced hire, not to mention it would be foolish, you'd be taking a big pay cut and generally associates are young and eager beavers, you must be around 30, and thus generally not what they're looking for.
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    You seem to be in a strong position, call them and see if you should apply for experienced or graduate hire though.
    There is no reason why you couldn't
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    You can apply for a graduate position. In my intake there are qualified lawyers, doctors and people over the age of 35. This is not uncommon at all and makes no difference. There is no upper age limit on these, you just have to meet the grade requirements.

    It is a long time ago since I filled out my application form, but I seem to remember it asking for your grades at uni on your first attempts. Take a look at the application form before you call HR. If you have to give information that you believe may lead to you being rejected at the outset, then give HR a call to discuss.

    This does not need to be anonymous, this is quite normal and they do not take any part in deciding whether you get the job or not, they are just there to help.

    An experienced hire is exactly that, some one qualified/with experience, and I am assuming, since your post is silent on this, that you do not have a secret Accounting qualification up your sleeve too! And as such, you would not be able to apply for these positions.

    Hope this helps
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    you have a really strong chance there chum seriously the amount of experience and degrees achieved = massive win
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    I would imagine you have a far better chance than most of the 21 year olds who are applying.

    If there is an issue which will come up it might be what were you earning in Management Consultancy, as you would be going back to a graduate starting salary if you got taken on here. They may be concerned that if you were on say £30-40k in your previous job, that you will expect them to match that now, which they probably won't.
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    Thanks all for your replies, some interesting reading! And happily I'm now reassured from your posts that I've got a good shot... but need to get my skates on. I think I'll take your advice and speak to a HR person in the firms.

    In response to some of the points:

    newts2k

    I will be applying to smaller places but would rather be at a big 4 as my understanding is that it is easier to move to a smaller practice from a big 4 than the other way around so would rather keep my options open.

    Johnny Luk

    As Steffy guessed I don't have a background in accountancy so the experienced hire route is not an option.

    MagicNMedicine

    I'm happy to take a pay cut at this time. For me it is all about the long game. Management Counsultancy in the public sector is (understandably) not a safe place to be at the moment. My firm are about to make redundancies and while I'm pretty confident of dodging that bullet the future is very uncertain and I can't see there being a huge amount of opportunity for career progression over the next few years. By the time I'm qualified I'll be on more than I am now and accountancy is going to be a safer place to be over the next 10 years.

    Hopefully the fact I'm prepared to take a pay cut will be another positive I can use in interview!


    Once again, thanks everyone for your comments.
 
 
 
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