Survey Reflects Notable Difference From Traditional Mind-Set

MENLO PARK, CA -- A generation ago, most accounting and finance graduates sought jobs at large public accounting firms or major corporations. But a new survey suggests that the growth of the high-tech industry and the enticement of smaller, entrepreneurial firms has shifted this trend. Small- to mid-sized companies now rank first among the most desired business environments, according to a new poll of chief financial officers (CFOs).

The survey was developed by Accountemps, the world's first and largest temporary staffing service for accounting, finance and bookkeeping professionals. It was conducted by an independent research firm and includes responses from 1,400 CFOs from a stratified random sample of U.S. companies with more than 20 employees.

CFOs were asked, "Which one of the following is considered the most attractive employment environment among today's accounting graduates?" Their responses:

Small- to mid-sized company 35%
Large corporation 22%
Small- to mid-sized public accounting firm 13%
Large public accounting firm 11%
Start-up company or accounting firm 7%
Don't know / no answer   12%

"The career opportunities with rapidly growing small- to mid-sized companies are enticing, particularly the promise of having an equity stake in the business," said Max Messmer, chairman of Accountemps. "In addition, smaller firms are the ideal training ground for hands-on experience with a variety of business functions. "

Still, many college graduates are hesitant to being too small: Start-up companies were perceived as the least attractive employment option by CFOs at firms of all sizes. "Small, yet established businesses offer an entrepreneurial, fast-growth environment with fewer of the risks associated with an untested venture," Messmer said.

Not surprisingly, CFOs at the largest companies in the survey (those with 500 or more employees) viewed jobs with the Big Five as most appealing. "A position with a large public accounting firm has been the traditional first step in an accountant's career," Messmer said. "It's likely that the finance executives surveyed at large corporations began their own careers this way."

Accountemps has more than 270 offices throughout North America, Europe and Australia, and offers online job search services at www.accountemps.com.

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