Big Four accounting firms like KPMG continue to grow, particularly when it comes to adding fresh talent out of school. But, like in banking, the profile of candidates is changing. No longer are firms looking solely for people with finance and accounting backgrounds. They want a more well-rounded employee base.
We talked to Blane Ruschak, executive director of campus recruiting at KPMG, to get a better idea of the firm’s hiring plans and the new kind of candidates that they’re looking for.
Can you talk generally about how many hires you plan to make in the coming year in the U.S.?
It seems numbers change by the week as we keep growing and acquiring businesses. But it should be around 5,000 intern and full time campus hires this fiscal year, with a little more full-time than interns.
Tell me about your growth plans in advisory
We are seeing explosive growth in advisory as well as tax. Areas where we are seeing substantial growth include technology, information systems, cyber security, supply chain and data analytics, among others. We recently acquired a small data analytics company.
Plus our core audit, transactions and restructuring groups are growing as the deal market improves. Our Federal practice is also growing along with energy and healthcare.
Are you looking for the same types of people as in years past? What key skillsets are you looking for today.
It changes practice by practice, but with our tax unit for example we are doing a lot of offshoring. So new hires are reviewing work and supervising much earlier in their career. We weren’t necessarily looking for that type of experience before. Now, we expect new hires to have those supervisory skills, the ability to train someone on a technique or methodology.
In tech advisory, with so many new systems and with the importance of big data, it’s important to see how well versed people are with applications and system tools to be able to come up with advice for clients.
We’re also looking for strong networking skills. The major thing we are pushing now is a one firm concept – the need to understand what the other practices do to provide that value-add for clients.
We’re putting a big focus on networking, including with interns. All three functions – tax, audit and advisory – come together and spend a day on professional skills and networking. Networking is a skill we really value now.
Finally, we’re looking for people with a global mindset and cultural awareness. At KPMG, you are going to deal with clients who operate globally, so you need to know the challenges and opportunities of working in different countries.
We try to help there. We offer internships that can be done overseas. We also just completed a program where we sent 60 of our best students to London for a global leadership program.
How are you finding these new people?
We look for them at the schools we go to. If we add a new practice, we’ll develop a new profile of what we’re looking for – like experience with a study abroad program for instance. From a networking perspective, how well can they socialize? Do they have interest in trying other things? Were they a teacher’s assistant in college? Did they show leadership skills?
Some skills have gone from ‘nice to have’ to ‘need to have.’
We’ve also broadened the types of backgrounds we look for. In the past, most of our advisory hires were accounting majors. The breakdown for the last class was much different. Only 39% of hires had accounting majors. Just 11% majored in finance. The rest were in IT, engineering, computer science and even liberal arts.
Years ago, marketing students would have been turned away. We just hired 30 people with that background in New Jersey. A lot of people who didn’t see us as an option are now finding opportunities at KPMG.
Any one piece of advice you can give to potential recruits?
Keep in mind that, once you enter the recruiting process, even if you start with an event as a freshman, the clock keeps ticking. We’re looking for consistency throughout the process.
Some recruits get too casual, take things too lightly and let their guard down. We see you as a professional 24/7.