A common question I receive from my coachees is, “Big 4 Guru, I’ve been through the recruiting process multiple times and for x reason (often GPA, social skills, interview skills, or not a great resume), I was never able to obtain a big 4 accounting firm internship, or full time position. I have over the years seen some incredible candidates, and some have done some incredible things. In my book, 5 SECRETS, I talk about the top 5 ways people have gone above and beyond the “normal recruiting process” to land a job with the big 4 accounting firms.

I was reflecting on these incredible candidates today, and remembered two scenarios where people were hired for a totally off the wall reason.

(A) Looking at other countries - One of the most underutilized tactics is applying to other countries. Throughout my years as the Big 4 Guru, I have counseled numerous people based on their situations to apply for jobs in other countries. 

Most people don’t realize that most other countries are just like the one you live in. Yes, there are cultural differences, but there are often more similarities than you think. Here are the steps to take to apply in other countries:

  • Target countries you want to live in
  • Determine which firms in the country you want to work for
  • Call the company (use Skype as its cheap) and asked for the email of the recruiter (if possible find the name on the website or LinkedIn)
  • If you need to, say you are a professor from a surrounding University
  • Then, refer to the steps in the previous secret regarding sending your cover letter and resume, and following up with phone calls.

This is another scenario where the numbers can work in your favor. If you find enough offices, you will receive a position. When they ask you why you’re apply to the country, you need a good reason. If you’ve ever been there, that’s a plus. Otherwise tie it into some lifelong dream of living in Italy and see what happens. Tell them you would appreciate the opportunity to perform an interview over Skype to see if they interested in you as a candidate.

Not only that, you get to brag to any of your “traditional friends” that your now living in another country.

(B) Resume and Cover Letter trick - Nothing in life that’s worth something, is ever easy. And while this isn’t the easiiest way to get a position, it’s certainly the most effective. Here are the steps:

  •  Prepare a Resume
  • Prepare a Cover Letter
  • Prepare a listing of 20+ companies you want to work at (including multiple office for each Big 4 firm)
  • Send and individualized cover letter and resume to each firm contact
  • Include the contacts name, address, email, and phone number (or all that you have) in each cover letter
  • Tell them in the email that you will call them on X date and time
  • Then call them and follow up with an email

The trick on this is in the numbers. The secret resource I am going to share with you isn’t known by any students. Each states CPA society has a listing of each CPA firm by county, and the contact information and website. For example, if you go to ficpa.org, you’ll find a tab “for the public” then click on “find a cpa”.

You can use this to build your contact list and prepare to send the emails. The most important piece however is the polished resume and cover letter. If you’re interested in have those edited, email me at thebig4guru@gmail.com.

AuthorAndrew Argue