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Everything you need to know about getting a job at EY

You want to work for EY? You're in luck. In 2016, EY has plans to hire 30,000 people at an experienced level. This is a big figure, but is easily dwarfed by the number of applications it receives. Last year, 1.4m people applied to the firm globally – this means you have a 2% chance of getting in.

Breaking this figure down a little further shows just how high the barriers to entry are. Of the 30,000 new experienced hires, around 25% of people globally come through internal referrals, and another 30% are what Nancy Altobello, global vice chair for talent, calls “boomerangs” – namely, former employees coming back into the fold.

“There tends to be a better cultural fit when someone is referred – they have better sponsorship and support and are higher rated faster,” she says. “For the most part our employees leave for industry, or a consulting house or another Big Four firm, and they easily fit back into our ecosystem.”

EY is not alone in receiving huge numbers of applications for its roles – and being very selective. Goldman Sachs hired 3% of the 313,000 people who applied last year, while Deloitte and PwC take on 4% and 2% of experienced applicants respectively in the U.S alone.

But removing the referrals and 'boomerangs' from the equation means that there are 13,500 jobs available to external applications this year. Assuming the same application rate, there's less than a 1% chance of being handed an offer at EY.

This year, EY is hiring 18,100 people in the Americas, 4,000 people in Asia-Pacific and 24,700 in Europe, the Middle East, India and Africa (EMEIA). The biggest division will be assurance, with 20,000 new hires, followed by advisory (13,400), then tax (10,400) and transaction advisory services (3,000).

Getting in early

One key to getting into EY is to start (very) early. This year, EY will hire 60,000 people for its campus recruitment programme – 20,000 of whom will be interns. 96% of internships are converted into full-time offers, says Altobello, and depending on the location, anything between two thirds to 80% of graduate hires come from the intern pool.

“We have 2,000 recruiters who spend time on campus and by their second year of school, most interns will have been to seminars on resume writing, leadership and career planning,” she says. In other words, by the time the recruitment process really starts, there’s a pool of well-prepped students lining up to get in.

EY has a list of target universities, but this doesn’t just include the Ivy League. In the U.S., for example, the University of Texas, University of Southern California, University of Michigan, University of Georgia and the University of Notre Dame are all happy hunting grounds.

Similarly, the profile of graduates getting hired has changed. Previously, EY obviously targeted accounting majors and this later moved towards including finance students. Now, accounting and finance majors make up 50% of its graduate hires, while engineering, IT, data analytics and even pre-meds and nursing students constitute the remainder.

“Our clients are looking for sector expertise more and more,” says Altobello. “Engineering, IT and data analytics are a big focus for us.”

Getting recruited at EY as an experienced hire

Globally, EY’s retention rate is 80%. People are most likely to stick around in the U.S. or UK, says Altobello, and most likely to leave in the ASEAN region, or in Brazil or Mexico.

Altobello says it's hard to retain good people when they're out of the office every day working with clients and other professional services firms who might want to hire them: "It’s constant exposure and people see how good they are,” she says.

As we’ve mentioned, around 55% of experienced hires at EY either come from internal referrals or through taking on former employees. If a new recruit comes through this way, the recruitment process is “smaller”, says Altobello.

However, outside of this – and assuming you make it through the application process - experienced candidates can expect anywhere between six to ten interviews before an offer is extended. Candidates will meet with partners, managers and their peers, as well as EY’s recruitment team.

Candidates will be tested on their technical knowledge, but by the point of interview the focus is on ensuring that there will be a cultural fit. “We ensure they meet enough people on the team so that they can make an informed decision about us,” says Altobello. “We’re looking for very strong assessments, but interviews are also part of the onboarding process so that they can start working as part of the team from day one.”

EY may also come looking for you if you have the right skill sets. In the advisory sector, there’s “intense competition for IT skills” says Altobello, with a particular need for IT security and data analytics.

It’s also hiring from investment banks for its transaction services advisory division, with bankers joining at manager to executive level.

“What we increasingly want from bankers is sector expertise – it’s more important for clients as sectors evolve so quickly,” she says. “Ten years ago, Amazon was a retail company, now it’s a technology company, for example. Bankers’ sector expertise is incredibly helpful.”

Appealing to Generation Y

Like most large organisations, EY is trying to appeal to millennials and ensure that they stick around. Increasingly, however, those joining EY are not just seeking flexible working arrangements or demanding to being involved in interesting work, but also want a stable and secure employer.

“They want to ensure that the decision to leave is in their hands, not in the hands of the employer,” says Altobello.

EY’s millennial retention strategy appears to be based around a combination of ongoing training, flexibility in the workplace and providing a lot of communication. It has, for example, what it calls a ‘counselling family’ for more junior employees, where they’re given access to senior team members in smaller groups.

Millennials have to accept that working for a professional services firm will require hard work – long hours, work that can be repetitive and quantitative is all part of the deal.

“What they want to see is where the work fits into the big picture,” says Altobello. “They may have to spend time entering numbers into Excel, but they want to see how that impacts the business and the team they work in.”

Photo: iv-serg/iStock/Thinkstock

AUTHORPaul Clarke
  • as
    12 May 2016

    These numbers are incredibly skewed and misleading. Big Four jobs can be accurately compared to jobs in FO IB, or even MO IB. Comparing total B4 job applications to total bank job applications is like comparing apples and oranges - they just aren't the same deal. Most of the hiring that big banks do is in support roles. GS FO IB takes about 350 people a year, out of 17,000+ applicants ( That is about 2%, or similar to what PwC takes in.

    But, the other commenter has an excellent point as well - IB is far more self-selective.

    First off, IB recruiting, chronologically, happens first. There is a lot of overlap between the people attracted to BB/EB IB and B4, but almost no chronological overlap. As a result, in my experience, the Big Four in many cases tend to get the recruiting 'scraps' - a lot of their applicants are people who tried to get into IB and couldn't make it, and so they enter another recruiting season.

    This isn't necessarily to say that consultants/accountants are not still smart, capable, hardworking people. However, with the exceptions of MBB, I have not met anyone in consulting - at PwC, Deloitte, EY, Accenture etc. - who are quite of the same prestige/personality/general 'cloth' of the guys at GS/MS. The standards are simply much lower to get in (although again, lower is all very relative - the standards are still very high).

    Personally, I pursued GS for years. Networked my butt off. Studied my butt off. Knew all my stuff. Had all of the right background etc. Had people pulling for me. But their interview process kicked my butt, and I was honestly not surprised at all that I didn't get a call back. MS didn't even give me a first round, despite flying to New York and making what seemed to be good impressions with multiple alumni from my school. I was more successful with the other BBs, and did end up with a BB and EB offer at the very very end of recruiting season (2 week overlap with consulting season, into mid-January) - but only after EXTENSIVE networking, practice interviews, and a whole lot of alumni pulling. (One of the firms mentioned here), I literally applied online, talked to no one, cracked Case in Point open 30 mins before each round of interviews for last minute prep, and breezed my way through for an offer.

    You need to be very smart - amongst the best - to work for any of these firms. But if you want to work in BB/EB FO IB, you need to be smart AND aggressive AND of the right pedigree AND have all of the right practiced nuances AND be perfect in every way shape and form. People who don't have the right pedigree often don't even bother applying (which is what makes it much more self-selective). If you want to work in non-MBB accounting/consulting, you just need good grades and to be able to talk - it is a lot less difficult in terms of effort to get in. And it shows. The guys I've met/networked with/know who have gone on to places like PwC and EY and Deloitte are all smart. But they're also all pretty 'chill'. They're generally very nice people, and generally a lot more cheery and MUCH less intense than top level bankers. I have no doubt that the culture at those places is probably a whole lot nicer than the culture at big BBs. But, the guys I know in consulting also weren't working in VC/PE/IB their freshman and sophomore years of college. They were out having fun, working as camp counselors and lifeguards and sport instructors. The guys who ended up in banking, nearly universally, had their eyes set on it from at least by day 1 of sophomore year, if not by the end of high school. New consultants just haven't cut their teeth the same way new bankers have. It just isn't as selective.

    Lastly, the fact that consulting isn't as selective isn't a bad thing. It's like comparing Bowdoin to MIT. Depending on who you are, you might end up getting a better education and enjoy college a whole lot more at Bowdoin that at MIT. If you're at Bowdoin, and you do well enough, there is very little stopping you from doing almost anything that most guys at MIT could do. But, it is a whole lot easier to get into Bowdoin than it is to get into MIT. Even though people at both schools are incredibly smart, and you will probably find some people at Bowdoin with the same raw intelligence as some of the people at MIT, the people at MIT had 4.0s in high school and probably started building robots when they were 9. The guys at Bowdoin don't have that same kind of background (or else they would be at Williams/Amherst, who we can liken to MBB in this analogy), and act a bit differently as a result. The same way, consulting can be a better fit for some people, and many consultants will end up in the same place many bankers will. However, the best at Bowdoin will many times fail to enter the same league as the best at MIT. The same is true for non-MBB consulting and BB IB. The best guys at PwC are not going to have the same caliber of opportunities necessarily as best guys at GS most of the time. Consultancies should not be trying to compete with/beat bankers at their own game (prestige). They need to be appreciated for what they are - similar, but different.

  • no
    28 April 2016

    I disagree; the Big 4 have more applications coming in because for IB FO positions, people are more self-selective due to the reputation of mainly only recruiting from a very small selection of universities whereas the Big 4 hires from a range of universities so more people apply.

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