When I joined Grant Thornton I was really proud to be a part of a down to earth, dynamic and forward thinking organisation. I’d moved from another large accountancy firm where they did trainee recruitment really well. What I was excited about was using my existing expertise and turning it up a notch to help create and build a new approach that felt really right for Grant Thornton. One of the first projects I worked on was this very blog, along with a group of amazing trainees. Being surrounded by such fantastic talent and energy really inspired me to strive to be market leading in everything we do as a team.
As well as being market leading with our approach to social media we knew we had to do something bold and brave around how we identify and select great talent. We’re an ambitious firm that’s really going places, and finding amazing trainees is central to our growth strategy. We’re on track to achieving our ambition of being a £500m turnover business a year early. The trainees we hire are pivotal to this, and ultimately driving the growth of our firm.
We already hire great talent. Each year we look for over 350 business advisers to join us across our four programmes; graduate, school leaver, summer intern and 12 month placement. A brave approach to social media and a bold marketing campaign needed to be complemented by a distinctive approach to selection. This realisation set the scene and is where our thinking began.
We listened to our market. Digging down into what makes students tick, being aware of what’s going on for them. We appreciate that it’s a tough market, and there’s a lot of negative press about job prospects. We’ve actually seen our hiring numbers double since before the recession, so we’re definitely still looking for trainee talent. We’ve redesigned our application form to allow students to focus their efforts on what’s important. It’s about being clear, insightful and an opportunity to demonstrate impact. Our new application form is focused on four areas: your academic successes, personal and professional achievements and finally cultural fit. We’re proud of what we have to offer here at Grant Thornton and the values we hold as an organisation. We’re looking for the same in the new trainees we hire.
We wanted to explore what makes a great trainee. Being strong academically is important as trainees will need to pass tough exams. What makes our great people stand out is their connection with the firm and things they’ve done that have made a real difference, either personally or professionally. This prompted us to take a fresh and flexible approach to academic entry requirements that’s unique amongst large accountancy firms. Across all our programmes we’re now looking for a balance of achievements. Looking at candidates holistically across all their achievements means we’re tapping into talent that we’ve not previously considered. We’re excited about providing access to the profession for a wider group of talent.
For me, making such an impact is hugely inspiring. Influencing the future success of our organisation through the talent we bring in gets me out of bed each morning. And, it’s this level of impact that our trainees tell us is what makes a career at Grant Thornton stand out. Our trainees are thinking big picture, applying complex technical knowledge to really exciting client situations. Taking our clients from where they are, to where they want to be. It’s such an exciting place to be whatever your role.
We’re all about innovating, and doing things in new ways. We’re taking a stand in the market to reflect our culture and values as an organisation and to ultimately drive the future of the firm.
We’re opening ourselves up to more amazing talent than ever before. We’re drilling down throughout our process to tighten up the quality and fit of our new trainees. Our newly designed telephone interview is based around our three foundational competencies; initiative, adaptability and ownership. Giving candidates the opportunity to show depth of thinking and experience in the three areas we care about the most. At final round assessment day our managers will dig beneath the surface of past experiences to see how candidates have demonstrated our brand behaviours. We’re looking for people who know what they do matters, who have a genuine interest in clients, who seize opportunities and use critical thinking to bring clarity and insight. And finally, our case study and group exercise are built around a framework of how we unlock potential for dynamic organisations, identifying the qualities associated with being a confident business adviser.
We’re surrounded by bright, ambitious, passionate and down to earth people and we want more of them. We’re looking for talent who want to be part of something amazing. Grant Thornton is not for everyone. Some of our applicants are not cut out for a career here. Some of those same people will go on to have amazing careers at other organisations. We’re hoping to create a reaction, so that candidates can opt into what we have to offer, or opt out, and focus on what feels best for them. As well as this cultural connection we’re also looking for candidates who really get us, know about what we do and why we’re really right for them. Ultimately, it’s all about the individual, their thinking and the decisions they make.