How to Gain Employment at a Big Four Accounting Firm
- Research the Firms
- Earn a College Degree
- Apply for an Internship
- Network With Employees
- Develop a Resume
Whether you work for one of the Big Four or not, accounting is a rewarding, stable career. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, certified public accountants (CPAs) earned a median annual salary of $68,150 per year in 2016, and employment of accountants is expected to increase 10 percent from 2016 to 2026. However, those seeking greater rewards may consider the following five tips to landing a job at one of these highly respectable firms.
1. Research the Firms
The first step into landing a position with a firm is to research the company’s background, what they do, and what they expect from current and future employees. For instance, KPMG is headquartered in the Netherlands, Deloitte operates offices across the United States, and both Ernst & Young (EY) and PriceWaterhouseCoopers (PwC) are based in the United Kingdom. Although all four of these companies are involved in the same industry, they have varying divisions and specialties. Nevertheless, each one hires candidates who have clear-cut career goals and who know where and for whom they want to work.
2. Earn a College Degree
While research is undeniably important, it is just as vital to earn a degree from an accredited university or college. Although many assume that attending an Ivy League school is a requirement, that is not necessarily the case. An affordable online degree program from a state university or local college can benefit a candidate just as well, provided that he or she maintains good grades throughout his or her education. In general, it is recommended that graduates must earn a 3.4 grade point average (GPA), but some candidates have landed positions with a 3.0 GPA. When applying, look for opportunities such as internships, guest lecturers, and one-on-one time with instructors rather than prestige.
Resource: Top 10 Online Accounting Degree Programs
3. Apply for an Internship
If a candidate can land an internship at a Big Four firm, he or she can drastically improve his or her chance of earning a position within the company. Since internships typically involve hard work and long hours with no or little pay, it is important not to undervalue them. Through an internship, a future applicant will gain real-world, hands-on experience regarding the company’s operations, and he or she will discover what the firm requires in order to land a starting position. Once a candidate has one foot in the door, stepping through that door becomes much easier.
4. Network With Employees
Although it would certainly be nice to obtain a job simply by working hard, such is not always the case. In terms of finding employment, it’s not necessarily what you know; it’s who you know. For this reason, if a candidate has a relative or a friend currently employed by a Big Four firm, a recommendation would likely do wonders for the prospective candidate. Even if the friend or relative is unable to make a recommendation, he or she may give the candidate inside advice on what the firm is looking for when considering applicants.
5. Develop a Resume
Once a prospective candidate believes that he or she has the experience, skills, connections, and knowledge to work at a Big Four firm, it is important to prepare an eye-catching, dynamic cover letter and resume. This is the first look that a future employer will have at an individual, and it must therefore be impeccable. Avoid sending a general resume; instead, shape the resume to correlate with each specific firm as well as what that firm expects from its candidates and current employees.
Landing a position within a well-known firm is not easy, but it is not impossible either. Maintaining a 3.0 GPA and pursuing a four-year college degree is vital. Candidates can increase their chance of working for a Big Four accounting firm by learning about each company, gaining an internship, and networking with employees.