- EY’s Ginnie Carlier shares tips on getting a job at an accounting firm.
- The Big Four accounting firm values lifelong learners and candidates with an “adventure mentality”.
- She says to ask about an interviewer’s role models inside or outside the company.
This essay is based on an interview with Ginny Carlierthe vice chairman of the talent EY America from Denver, Colorado on how to get into the Big Four accounting firm. The following has been edited for length and clarity.
Almost 30 years ago, when I began my career as an assurance professional – auditing financial statements, company records and verifying regulatory compliance – I never imagined that I would have the opportunity to work across the globe work and one day lead talent for EY America.
I joined EY’s Cleveland, Ohio office in 1993 and then moved within the firm to EY’s Silicon Valley office in 2000 to work with high growth technology companies of the dot-com era. Over time I’ve developed an adventure mentality which has helped me seize opportunities such as a transfer to Dubai. I also became an advocate for inclusive leadership and the power of diversity of thought. This led to his being named EY’s first Diversity and Inclusiveness Leader for the Middle East and North Africa region – and later Assurance Talent Leader for Europe, Middle East, India and Africa.
Upon returning to the United States, I served as Talent Leader for EY’s US West Region, where I prioritized the development and well-being of 15,000 people across 18 states. Today, as Vice Chair of Talent at EY Americas, I lead efforts to create exceptional experiences for over 98,000 people in 31 countries.
We have a multi-faceted hiring strategy that includes recruiting from community colleges, universities, professional organizations and other strategic alliances. We use technology together with personal engagement to meet candidates where they are.
We want to expand our team with people who share our values
Our employees are willing to demonstrate themselves as team players and to present themselves as resilient leaders through integrity in their work and relationships. Most importantly, our employees understand the importance of always dealing fairly and fairly.
We are looking for candidates who are lifelong learners and curious about what is possible. These individuals embrace change, ask insightful questions, and are active listeners. We’re looking for transformative leaders who will go beyond a growth mentality and embrace an adventure mentality – just like me! – where they are not afraid to seize new opportunities.
A resume should go beyond a person’s day-to-day work and accomplishments to reveal areas of interest and leadership qualities. For example, if someone regularly volunteers in their community, that interests us. The same applies to leadership roles.
Many EY employees are actively involved in our professional networks – known as employee resource groups – our corporate responsibility efforts and even on employee councils. These are great examples to highlight on a resume and interview and help us understand what is important to a candidate professionally but also personally.
One trend we’re seeing is resumes with a personal statement of purpose. If a candidate has one, they should definitely include it and be prepared to talk about it in an interview.
One of the best things a candidate can do during the interview is to bring their resume to life with stories and examples
I will never forget that one candidate who walked in and totally won me over with his story and taught me a valuable lesson on how to look beyond a resume.
He was a full-time accounting student who also worked as a bartender to support his family and applied for a role on our Assurance Services team. He started the conversation by sharing his story by talking about how working as a bartender prepared him for a career in professional and customer service. He told me why he worked so hard and his aspirations to continue helping his family while pursuing his goal of becoming an insurance professional.
As we spoke, he made his narrative his own by focusing on how his experience would lead him to success at EY. He painted a compelling picture of how the skills he learned as a bartender would translate into a high achiever at EY. This experience wasn’t necessarily “traditional”, but his mindset, positivity and clear ability to overcome obstacles set him apart.
When candidates share their thought process and the actions they took in the face of new and challenging situations, we can better understand their ability to adapt, overcome obstacles, and manage uncertainty. For example, you can give an example of how they handled a project where not all the information was known, or what happened when a task suddenly changed and a significant turnaround was needed.
Candidates should feel empowered to ask questions throughout the process
Ask about our company, our culture, our business and our teams. An interview is as much an opportunity for a candidate to get to know us as it is for us to get to know a candidate.
It might seem simple, but flipping the script to the interviewer can be a good idea. Ask the person interviewing you why they decided to join the organization—or why they stayed for so many years. Ask about their role models inside or outside the organization. Inquire about challenges they faced and how they overcame them.