Breaking down the myths of working for one of the Big 4

Ellen Cowan

The reality of working for EY, from Recruitment Advisor Ellen Cowan.

I joined EY in 2016 after spending three years working for a recruitment agency. I am now Recruitment Advisor for five different teams within EY’s Assurance business area. I had always worked with EY as a client so had an idea of what EY do from an outsider’s perspective but what is it actually like to work for EY?

First of all – what are the most common myths associated with working for a Big 4 firm? Below I’ve addressed the ones that I hear most often, and what the reality is at EY

Myth one: “Everyone works 80 hours weeks”
Reality: Work life balance does exist

EY is fully supportive of flexible working. That means that as long as continue to do what is required of you, you can work when and where suits you. Have plans on a Friday afternoon? How about starting at 7.30 and finishing at 15.30? Need to be at home for an important delivery? You can work from home that day. Do you have childcare/personal commitments which mean you can’t work the ‘standard’ working week? Across the firm, EY are supportive of both formal and informal flexible working arrangements. As well as being able to mould your working week to your specific needs, we also don’t expect you to stay late in the office just to show you are there. Of course, in busy periods, you may need to put in some extra work but you would be hard pushed to find a company where that wasn’t the case!

Myth two: “All we do is audit”
Reality: Variation in what you do

Assurance at EY includes all sorts of different teams that can offer a range of services to our clients – not just audit! Furthermore, everyone at EY is encouraged to shape their role to their interest whether that be getting involved in our D&I initiatives or helping transform the way the business works such as by joining an innovation project group. Your role here really is what you make it.

Myth three: “The environment is very corporate and no one socialises”
Reality: EY has a strong, people-focused culture

One of the most surprising things for me when I joined was the culture in the office. I was expecting a highly corporate/stuffy environment where there was little interaction/socialisation in the office. I couldn’t have been more wrong. The atmosphere here is so friendly and there is always something going on. Everyone is approachable, even the most senior members of staff and everyone sits on the same open floor – no one hides away in an office. There are various social activities that happen on a regular basis whether that be month-end drinks, CSR sports days, quarter-end socials or one of the many Christmas Parties (December is definitely party season!).

Myth four: “It’s really difficult to get promoted”
Reality: Progression is performance-based and open to anyone

There is a common misconception of Big 4 firms that you have to wait until the end of a ‘cycle’ to be promoted and that if someone joined before you, they will be promoted first. This is definitely not the case at EY. Our performance management programme LEAD gives you a real grasp on your career and where it is going. You are able to reach out for feedback at any time throughout the year and review that feedback against your career goals on a 90 day cycle. As well as the formal yearly promotion cycle you may also be eligible for an ‘out of cycle’ promotion at any time of the year in Audit. Promotions are based purely on your own performance – not how long you have worked for EY or who you know!

EY is a great place to work and hopefully this article has helped to break down some of the myths associated with working at a Big 4 firm. Take a look around our careers page to see what opportunities are available!

Read this next

More advice and insight from our recruiters

Rachel Meredith

How to make your application stand out

Top tips for CV success from Recruitment Advisor Rachel.

Find out more
Gordon Smith

5 top tips while preparing for your job interview

Applying to one of our UK roles? Gordon's advice for international candidates on mastering the interview prep.

Find out more

What we look for

Find out the traits we value most to be successful with us.
Find out more