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Myth or Truth: You Have to Work 2 Years Minimum at Any Employer

Dear Sirs, I quit, Sincerely,

Many people stay at Accenture as they think it looks bad on their CV if they leave a company too soon. Two to three years is often mentioned as a minimum.

Is this true?

Let’s assume you only just started at Accenture and have realized this company will not give you the professional development you hoped, nor job satisfaction or anything else you value in a job.

For me it took a few months before I realized this about Accenture.

Why did it take me so long?

Well, on my first project the Managing Directors and others said "since this is your first project we’ll give you these easy tasks, you will get more challenges in the next one" and similar things.

That first project was the biggest anti-climax in my professional life so far and I had been in consulting for quite a few years already when coming to Accenture. When my second project was even worse I realized what Accenture is.

Maybe you, just like me, discovered this within a few months. Most likely you are a recent graduate (that is who Accenture hires most) and you think to yourself – "Can I quit this soon? It will look really bad on my CV / résumé."

I say: don’t believe the cliché.

You do not have to stay 2-3 years on your first job.

The main reason why:

the cost of staying in a job that neither develops you nor gives you job satisfaction is huge. Not only professionally but also personally.

You only have one life and you don’t live forever. Don’t waste several years in a place like Accenture.

Consider the professional value of your CV. True – more experience is better than less experience when you apply for your next job.

But consider your value in three years’ time, if you change and get a developing job. You will be worth much more, and you’ll be much happier than if you stay in a job just to get more months in the position.

My advice is this: get another job as soon as possible.

If asked in an interview why you are leaving so soon you calmly explain:

  • "I realized early that I was not getting the professional development that I was looking for" or
  • "it was not the kind of position I expected, I have learned my lesson and will evaluate better this time".
You can go on explaining:
  • "I realize it looks better to stay a few years, but I think it is best to correct the mistake sooner rather than later, and I prefer a good start on my career which I think your company is (based on my research)".

Then you go on and tell them why they should hire you, the top three benefits they will have from you.

Your next firm will consider you mature and confident.

There is a saying that goes "Communicate bad news early" (as opposed to waiting). That is mature, brave, and smart. And in similar fashion it is mature, brave, and smart to correct a serious career mistake early.

You have most likely learned much about interviewing from before. Use that knowledge. Be positive and confident.

Don’t talk bad about Accenture, at least not in the interviews. Write an article here on Exposing Evil Empire and forget about that firm. You can even remove it from your CV once you have some experience from another company.

What to Do Next

Compared to your job search as a graduate student, now as an Accenture employee there are some differences. You have the advantage of having a steady income (even if Accenture salaries are lower than average).

But you also have some disadvantages, namely that you have less time and energy to put into a job hunt. So you have to be smart and efficient about it. For example, if you are travelling Monday to Thursday you have to schedule interviews on Fridays. You can ask to work from home on Fridays or take a day off.

Best (and bravest) is to just resign Accenture and then look for a job as it will give you time to focus and you don’t risk being sucked dry at Accenture.

There is tons of advice on internet on how to change careers. However, this is my specific advice to Accenture people:

  1. Network with your client

    At your Accenture project, try to network with people working for the client company. Invite people you work with to lunch. Let them know you are considering a change in your career. This is a great way to get a job offer, as the client knows you already. People are often open to a lunch, especially if it is someone you get along with.

    I have done this myself in my brief (but too long) time with Accenture and was asked by several Directors at the client company if I was interested in joining them.

  2. Re-use the contacts from your last job hunt

    If you spent weeks or months job hunting at the end of your studies, hopefully you didn’t "burn any bridges" with contacts you made.

    I’ve seen people leave Accenture after one month, with a job waiting for them.

    Stay in touch with the managers and recruiters you spoke to at other companies and let them know you had bad luck at Accenture and is interested in switching employer.

    While it is a good idea to connect on LinkedIn with people you interviewed with, a phone call or lunch invitation is much better.

  3. Search both actively and passively

    You simply can’t assume that your next job will find you. The best way to find a career is normally networking, telling everyone you know you are looking for a job and what your skills are.

    Try applying directly to Accenture’s competitors like:

    As your time is limited due to Accenture’s high demands, you also need to put your resume out there, doing work for you. Update it and post it on sites like:

    Make your CV invisible to Accenture if possible (but it might also help your situation within Accenture if the people responsible for staffing knows your CV is out there).

    Just remember that a passive search is not enough. You need to actively search and network.

Good luck!

Guest Writer
July 26, 2011
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  1. I think if the original author was able to spell “amusing” he would have had a better time at Accenture!

    REALLY?

    • I so wish I had had a reason to write ‘amusing’ at least once during my time at Accenture.
      Not only because I have been bored out of my mind, and need for something amussing to happen, badly!
      But also, as you indicate, because I would probably have gotten fired for misspelling it (yeah, evil empire is really an*l about details).

      Getting fired from Accenture would be a merit! One can’t get out of that hell hole fast enough.

      On another note, is spelling mistakes the only thing you can complain about?

  2. Thanks for this article. I joined this thing 2 months back and have started job hunting in my first week here.
    Reasons
    – being brought in 3 levels below my experience,
    – a complete shift of technology and domain,
    – working 100 hours a week,
    – working ‘all’ weekends and not ‘allowed’ to work the weekends from home,
    – work culture quite hostile
    – delivering substandard work and low quality with 10 times the people and 50 times the budget

    I can go on and on, but this article gave me the strength to think I should leave even if it looks bad on the CV. We have only one life – why waste it?

    Also, the current market is really great and that may not last forever considering the volatile economic conditions. So I intend to make the most of it.

  3. I am leaving this company after 11 years. The reason is.. everything that ex-ACN’s have said. And yes, it took me that long to finally find the courage to leave.

    Any suggestion on the best way to explain “why i am leaving” without going through all the drama and stress?

    • Good for you that you are leaving!

      Just send a resignation letter without any reasons.

      If they ask, say something general like “looking for new challenges”.