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Five hacks to get a job at the Big Four

There’s a lot of hype around the Big Four (Deloitte, EY, PwC and KPMG), and getting a job with one of them is highly regarded as a top graduate prospect. They pay well, there’s opportunities for promotion and they take on thousands of graduates every year. What’s not to like? Here’s our employment hacks to help you get a foot in the door.

1) Specialise

These are big firms, that cover a range of different departments and financial services, from audit to tax. You need to get your head around which division would suit you and then tailor your application towards that sector. No-one gets in by just applying across the board.

Think about it, check out our specialist advice sections on the different areas of financial careers and then make your decision and follow it through – make it clear why you chose the specific sector you applied for and why it appeals to you. We promise it’ll make your application one hundred times more employable.

2) Location

Think about this one. More than 50% of applications go to the London offices of the Big Four, but they have offices all over the UK, all of which take graduates.

We’re not saying don’t apply to London – by all means do, but maybe spread your thoughts and cast the net a little wider to maximize your chances.

3) Prepare for Test-Off

The Big Four love a test, and you should expect them at all stages of your application. Numerical tests, verbal reasoning tests, logic tests, personality tests, judgement tests. You name it, the Big Four will have it.

This is the big hurdle and you should research in depth which tests apply to your particular division in the company you select, before practicing like mad – it is here where many of the candidates are filtered out of the process. Our section on psychometric tests wouldn’t be a bad place to start!

4) Experience is great

If you don’t secure an internship, do not panic. This isn’t law and it isn’t investment banking, where those kind of insular schemes are the only way in. In fact, the Big Four take on more than four times as many graduates as they do interns, so it would be physically impossible for them to only take from within.

That said, don’t rest around on your hindquarters if you end up not getting an internship – all experience can be made relevant and you should fill your spare time doing something that interests you and that you can use to show your employability when it comes to the crunch.

5) Know the key traits and skills

As huge multi-national companies, the Big Four make it very clear the kind of traits and skills that their employees will possess. They all love leadership, and they all love teamwork. Learn how to showcase both skills effectively.

There are pointers on each individual website about the candidates they are looking for and what values these students possess. If you can showcase these qualities throughout the application process, the job will almost certainly be yours. 

By Jack J Collins, Editor, AllAboutFinanceCareers.com