So, you want to work for one of the Big 4 accounting firms. Long hours, sleepless nights, prestige, and high pay seem right for you? Thinking of getting a tattoo with KPMG, EY, Deloitte, or PWC sprawled across your chest? Well, you’ve come to the right place. This step-by-step guide will show you how you, too, can work for one of the largest accounting firms in the world.
1) Attend a Big State School or Prestigious College
This is not a must but it definitely helps. Attending a larger state school or a prestigious college gives you an advantage compared to other candidates. Chances are there will be recruiters on campus and at employment fairs from the Big 4 Accounting Firms.
If you are attending a small college in the middle of nowhere then chances are you won’t be seeing many recruiters or alumni working at these prestigious firms. If you love your small town college or it’s too late to transfer, then try these other techniques.
2) Land an Internship
Back-to-school season is prime time for recruiters, especially in public accounting. From September to October recruiters at the Big 4 are tying to fill internship positions for next year, and they’ll be in and around large state and private schools (see #1).
Apply for as many internships as possible, because the easiest way to land a full-time job at a Big 4 firm is starting out as an intern. Unless you completely mess up, fall asleep at your cubicle, or spill coffee on a partner you’ll probably get the job. Larger firms like training employees when they first start out in public accounting so that they develop more quickly in the following years.
3) Pass The CPA Exam
The best way to secure a job at a Big 4 firm is to pass some, if not all, parts of the CPA exam. Having your CPA is a must-have at a Big 4 firm, so the closer you are to licensure, the better you look to potential recruiters.
Positions in public accounting are typically filled in the summer and don’t start until the fall. This means that candidates who are lucky enough to land a job at one of the Big 4 accounting firms should try to pass as many parts of the exam as possible before their start date.
4) Resume/Cover Letter/LinkedIn
The three must-dos for any future accountant looking to work at one of the Big 4 accounting firms is to perfect your resume, cover letter, and LinkedIn profile. This doesn’t just mean having a resume, cover letter, and generic LinkedIn profile – it means seeking advice and help from the pros.
Your school’s career center is full of people waiting to help you build your resume, craft that perfect cover letter, and create an engaging LinkedIn profile. They have years of experience and have helped hundreds, if not thousands, of candidates land jobs. If you want to get ahead of the competition, then your first stop should be to your school’s career center (or any other variation of that name).
5) Network, Network, Network
All it takes is one person to pass your resume onto a recruiter, and presto! You got yourself a job. But how do you expect to meet the person who’ll change your life forever if you don’t plan on networking?
Be tactical in your approach:
- Go to SEVERAL state society of CPA events, find people who work for firms you’d like to work for, and network. Don’t ask, “Can you get me a job?” Play it cool.
- Connect with alumni who work at Big 4 accounting firms and ask them for advice on how you can work for a Big 4 accounting firm, as well.
- Connect with recruiters who place candidates at Big 4 firms and seek their advice.
- Email, email, email! And don’t forget to follow-up.
This article covers several tactical ways to work for a Big 4 accounting firm like Deloitte, PwC, EY, and KPMG. However, none of this replaces the hard work needed to get your foot in the door. Focus on your studies, get involved in leadership positions on your campus, and seek out ways to distinguish yourself from other candidates. If all else fails, at least you’ll be well positioned to work for a top 10 accounting firm with equal pay and some prestige.