Wouldn’t life be great if you got to work at a Big 4 Accounting firm? People are constantly telling you that it is one of the best places to launch a career, and you are promised a great work life balance. Recruiters talk to you about how great the salary is and all the prestige you get working at a big 4 firm. Most of this is pure industry advertising. There are some great things about working at a big 4, but there are other not so great things as well.
Here are the Top 5 Myths about working at a big 4 firm.
Myth number 1: Your resume automatically grows to the top of the pile in any career hunt
Explained: An experienced candidate without big four experience is much more likely to get selected than a candidate with big four experience that is not as experienced. It is the experience within the big 4 firm at top management positions that will give your career a boost. But, you will need to work at least 3 years at a big 4 accounting firm before you are exposed to the level of responsibility smaller accounting firms might give you right away. It’s not that you worked at a Big 4; it’s what you did in the big 4.
Myth number 2: You get access to a network of professionals that is unparallel anywhere
Explained: There is a network of professionals, but the amount of “networking” you will be doing is very minimal given how busy each of these professionals are. You still need to develop networking skills to advance your career. Simply working in Big 4 does not guarantee job security for life or “networks.”
Myth number 3: You earn a great salary making all your friends at smaller firms jealous
Explained: You may have a higher salary on paper but you can be guaranteed you will be working long hours with unpaid overtime. Your friends probably make more money on an hourly basis and have much more free time. Who’s laughing now?
Myth number 4: You gain experience that is unparalleled to anything else.
Explained: If you don’t stay long enough, its very likely you will just be doing slave work such as simple referencing, and ticking and tying. Big 4 experience does not guarantee you see the whole picture of auditing. You will most likely be doing small sections of a large audit. You may see only a very small part compared to smaller firms.
Myth number 5: You get to travel the world
Explained: You get to work in places you don’t really want to. Deadlines are tight. It is very possible to go to a foreign country and go to only two places. Your client location and your hotel. Traveling is more of a nuisance than luxury at the big 4.
In conclusion, a big 4 accounting firm is a great place to start a career, but it is overhyped. Smaller accounting firms may give you a lot of exposure to areas that you will touch in the big 4 until you reach top management positions.