Tag Archives: Competencies

Unlocking the Potential for Dynamic Students

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. Read this post

Lucy’s Application Tips

It’s now over three years since I applied for my summer internship position at Grant Thornton however the challenge of completing various application forms for different firms is still fresh in my mind. These forms can be a bit of a nightmare at times so with this in mind I thought I would give you some of my top tips. Bear in mind though that these are only my opinions and not a guaranteed way to get a job at Grant Thornton!

My first piece of advice and probably the most important is to apply early. Grant Thornton’s applications have already been open for a month and candidates are already progressing through the application process. Roles will start to be filled making it less likely that you will get an opportunity to interview. What’s more, after Christmas you are likely to be focussed entirely on university or A-level exams and job applications are the last thing you want to be thinking about!

Secondly, I would recommend tailoring your responses to each firm you apply to. Whatever you do, don’t just copy and paste! Each firm tends to have a set of competencies which reflect their values. You need to think carefully about how they apply to you. Grant Thornton’s competencies are adaptability, initiative, ownership, building business relationships, business insight, results driven, influencing, critical thinking, motivation. Sometimes it can be difficult to think how these apply to you so I preferred to write a list of things that I had done and then consider which competencies these things demonstrated. For example, giving tours of my department at university could have been an example of building business relationships and influencing skills. Or my year abroad might have demonstrated adaptability and motivation.

Another tip would be to print your form out and read it through. Don’t make spelling and grammar mistakes – it looks like you haven’t put any care into the form. I would recommend getting a friend or parent to read through it too. It can be difficult to spot mistakes when you’ve spent a long time working on something.

I could carry on writing application tips for pages and pages but this brings me to my final point; be concise! Even though there are no word limits on the questions this isn’t an open invitation to write your life story. Thousands of applications are received each year so you need to make sure you get to the point and don’t waffle.

Good luck with your application and, as always, feel free to ask us questions on the forum, Twitter or Facebook.

Accountants are people too.

Bean counters, number crunchers; call us what you will, there is a popular image of accountants as grey-suited individuals, with serious faces, who lack a fundamental sense of humour and who have an unhealthy obsession with adding up columns of numbers.

Well fair enough I do own a grey suit, but attest that I’m not a boring, unsmiling or impersonal human-being either in public dealing with clients and colleagues or in private with my own friends and family.

Now this might lose me some street cred (and also seem like an oxymoron to my whole argument) but I was listening to Radio 4 yesterday. There was a segment about how young people don’t have people skills anymore, that they’ve become unable to function normally in teams or with other people. The reason apparently is the Internet and the reliance on digital communications such as emails and text messages. Whilst I’m not going to argue against the point raised in the show, it got me thinking about the common misconceptions about the skills that accountants need. Yes numeracy is pretty important, there’s lots of mathematics, a lot of logic is needed and the ability to visualise how changes to balances or transactions can have a myriad of effects on a business or public bodies set of accounts. But really our job is about people.

If I couldn’t relate to people and gain their trust and assistance in performing my work I simply couldn’t do my job. One of the most important skills I use everyday is using my background and previous experience to relate to people and put them at ease. Being audited can’t be much fun, someone comes into your place of work checking what you’ve done, investigating, asking questions, challenging your professional judgement, suggesting changes. To be able to do this constructively, you certainly need to be able to build a rapport with clients.

I’m currently working with a Council that is based in the sort of rural area I grew up in and has some interesting projects and challenges facing the local population, similar to those from my hometown. So knowing what these might be from personal experience really helps as it allows me to show that I understand the reasoning behind the financial decisions made by the client. In turn it also means they trust my judgement and are happy to listen when I make recommendations, ask challenging questions or when I disagree with how something has been accounted for.

The thing I enjoy the most about my job is that I get to meet lots of different people, who are doing lots of different things and who are passionate about what they do. However, the role of an auditor isn’t about making friends with clients, it’s about building business relationships and there is a line that can’t be crossed, that of maintaining professional independence. But it doesn’t mean that you have to present the serious, humourless face that springs to mind when someone says the ‘A’ word.