Although the accounting industry is a great place to be to secure success in your career, it can be competitive--especially if you want to get hired by The Big 4 accounting firms. As a current college student in this day and age, many of you are also probably feeling the pressure of paying back student loans when you graduate, making finding a good job even more imperative. Here are some tips to help you stay on top of accomplishing your goals and how to get noticed by The Big 4.
Determination plays a key role in being able to secure not just any job, but the one you want. In this case, The Big 4. This is the most important part of “getting in” with these firms. You’re most likely going to be able to meet them at the career fair on campus, and if you play your cards right, you can reach just about any firm’s HR representative.
But how do you translate that first meeting to the next step: an interview? This is far more difficult and requires talking to people face to face. It also requires you to step out of your comfort zone and take risks you normally otherwise wouldn't take. When you meet a recruiter or company employee, following these three principles can help you close deals with firms: be enthusiastic, curious, and collected.
These social skills are extremely significant when it comes to your professional development. It’s not hard to create resumes and cover letters and send emails. You can do that from the safety and comfort of your home; however, getting into the door means exerting extra effort to present yourself as a go-getter and to follow through with actions outside of being at your computer.
If you're a bit rusty, it's not a bad idea to get some practice in before doing the real thing. Stand upright, chin up, keep a light smile, and maintain natural and consistent eye contact. The more organic everything is, the better it will be. So grab a friend, a video recorder, or a mirror and analyze your body language and posture. Most importantly, ask a ton of questions. Here are a few to get you started:
- What is an initiative that company management/leadership has been focused on over the last year and how has that affected you and your teams?
- What type of opportunities does your company have for professional development and training?
- How much say do the employees have about working on certain clients/industries/projects? What are the major projects or initiatives your team is working on today?
- What are the most important skills and attributes a candidate needs to have to be successful in this position?
- What are the characteristics of a successful employee in your organization? What are the most challenging things about the job?
- What would a typical work day look like in this position?
- Can you tell me a little bit about the evaluation process at your company?
- What are the common attributes of people who really excel at your company?
- What are a few things that really drive results for your company?
- If I were to be hired, what do you expect me to accomplish in the position?
- What has been your favorite part of working at this company?
- Who are the major clients in your office?
- What is the next step in the interviewing process?
These should be asked at career fairs, interviews, socials, happy hours, campus events, mock interviews, etc. Even if you already know the answer, ask it and sound interested. This will go a long, long way. Another big recommendation is to ask your own questions. This is your future, what are you interested in or excited about?
Does the Big 4 have high GPA requirements? You may have heard that firms require a 3.4 or above, or that they're only really looking for people who a 3.9 or higher. However, this is certainly not the case. Many students let GPA intimidate them from taking the next step toward their career, and it shouldn't. We have heard stories of students who got a Big 4 internship with a 3.23 GPA and actually got it over their competitive peer who had a 3.99. The moral of the story is that firms are looking for the overall package and aren't just focusing on your grade point average.
We would, however, say that the minimum GPA required is a 3.0. But if you find that yours is a bit lower than that, just work on your GPA for grad school, gain work experience, or take on leadership roles during your academic career. These are called compensating factors. They're essential to your shot with a great firm so that you can grab their attention with more than just a high GPA.
We hope you found these tips helpful and wish you the best of luck on your accouting career and professional endeavors!