Big Four accounting firm Ernst & Young expects to hire more than 10,000 experienced and entry-level financial services employees in the U.S. during its fiscal year ending June 2013, according to Mandy Dorn, a member of E&Y Americas’ PR team. Globally, the firm employs 167,000, with 50,000 in the Americas.
Unlike big banks, hedge funds and private equity groups, which will lay off hundreds of thousands of employees by year’s end, E&Y has one of the biggest tax services units in the country, making it resistant to large fluctuations in the market. Another float buoying E&Y’s headcount is its advisory business, a unit that Ernst & Young is investing in heavily. Consulting businesses can prosper in a slow economy as clients pare down their full-time resources and try to become more efficient.
The volatile economy, along with the speed at which clients need to operate in today’s business environment, is driving E&Y to expand its advisory business at record pace, said Tom Lardner, experienced recruiting director for E&Y’s financial services unit. The firm’s consulting business is expected to account for nearly 40% of the anticipated 4,100 experienced hires the firm will make in its 2013 fiscal year.
Within its advisory group, Ernst & Young is focusing on healthcare, technology and financial services clients, helping them manage risk and remain compliant while improving business operations, said Lardner.
Getting the Job
E&Y is looking for experienced hires with a blend of experience, but also in-depth industry knowledge of a particular business sector, such as healthcare or technology, said Lardner.
Prior experience in professional services is also key, said Lardner, as well as experience working with clients to improve their front, middle and back office operations.
Perhaps the best way to find work at E&Y is to tap into your personal and professional network. In the fiscal year ended last June 30, more than 42% of experienced professionals were hired as a result of an employee referral, up from 37% the previous year. E&Y gave out $4.8 million worth of employee referral bonuses last fiscal year. Such bonuses can total up to $10,000 based on the rank of both the hire and professional making the referral, said Dorn.
The accounting firm also actively recruits on social networks, including Facebook, where it manages a U.S. careers page that has over 92,000 fans, and LinkedIn. Employees at all levels are asked to connect with people whom they have a professional relationship and to identify talent in the marketplace, said Lardner.
The firm also plans to hire more than 6,000 recent grads in the U.S., including 3,400 full-time employees and 2,600 paid interns.
The vast majority of hires will have a bachelor’s or master’s degree in accounting, tax services or information technology, said Dan Black, director of campus recruiting for the Americas. E&Y will also look to add between 100 and 150 MBA degree holders before July 2013.
The firm has already begun making entry-level offers to students graduating this fall, but not all have responded and those hires are not made official until candidates have obtained their degrees.
E&Y didn’t comment on the percentage of their hiring that is based on attrition.
“Grades are extremely important” when assessing an entry-level candidate, said Black. While not a strict mandate, you’ll probably need a 3.0 GPA or better if you want to be considered. “The lower your grades, the more we want to see other things on your resume,” Black said. These include work experience, extracurricular activities that demonstrate leadership capabilities and strong analytic skills.
The firm also values people with a global mindset who are comfortable working outside of their own personal skills and background, particularly for those looking to work in the advisory business that requires heavy travel, said Black.
“We look for candidates with the social and intellectual capability to work outside of their comfort zone with a diverse mix of people and an alternative way of looking at things,” he said.
Doing a semester abroad or working with international students can help demonstrate these abilities, Black said. Being bilingual is a plus, but is not critical. Roughly 2,000 U.S.-based E&Y employees are on an overseas assignment at any given point.
As a current college student, the best way to find a career at E&Y is by applying to one of their paid internship programs, which run through the summer as well as during tax season in the winter. Approximately 90% of interns are converted to full-time hires after they graduate, Black said.
As for compensation, E&Y remains “very much competitive” with any other company that hires entry-level accounting folks, said Black, while admitting that it “gets tricky” when competing against large financial firms like Wall Street banks.
“But we’re going to be in the conversation in terms of compensation,” he said, adding that, unlike big banks, E&Y can provide much better job security.