Despite pockets of hiring, Wall Street is still cutting headcount. New York’s securities industry lost 2,600 jobs last year. The Big Four, meanwhile, continues adding to its roster. Ernst & Young recently announced plans to hire north of 15,000 people in the US during their current fiscal year. Rival PricewaterhouseCoopers wants to hire even more.
We spoke to PwC’s new US recruiting head Rod Adams about the firm’s plans, their hottest areas, and had him give his best advice for potential recruits.
What are PwC's hiring projections for the US for fiscal year 2015?
We are definitely looking to hire more this year. About 10% more than what we hired last year, across all three divisions: tax, assurance and advisory. We’re projecting to bring on around 16,000 people in the US. Roughly 10,500 on the entry-level side and 5,500 experience hires.
Within advisory, what are your hottest areas?
In advisory, we’re looking to hire just south of 4,000 people, split up evenly between campus and experienced hires. All divisions are hiring but management and tech consulting are probably the hottest areas. When you look at it from an industry perspective, financial services and healthcare are the two big ones we’re concentrating on. Both of those industries are obviously working through a lot of changes.
What key skills are you looking for now, from both a technical and soft skill point of view.
At PwC, we are very focused on building future leaders. Our internal talent development strategy depends on building leaders. Everyone we are going to hire is going to be attached to PwC for a long time, whether with us or eventually as clients.
From a technical perspective, we’re increasingly looking for people with experience in information systems, computer science, engineering and of course accounting.
Beyond that, we are looking for relationship-building skills, a strong business acumen, having a diverse perspective and a curiosity to learn outside of their norm.
Banks we’ve spoken to are hiring students with degrees outside of traditional programs like finance, accounting and economics. Are you doing the same?
Absolutely. There has always been a big focus of bringing on computer science majors in advisory, but now we are doing that in assurance and accounting as well. It used to be a small percentage – now we are looking to more than double the number of STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) hires.
You’ve been on the job now for a few months. Are there any specific changes you are looking to make with PwC’s recruitment strategy?
As I mentioned earlier, we are looking to bring on different skill sets. But another area of focus is branding and marketing our firm with undergraduate candidates.
We have a strong brand on campus from a business school perspective, but from a general career perspective we aren’t as familiar with say engineering or math students. We want to work to make sure those students know what we have to offer.
We are also looking to make technology advancements, to be on the cutting edge of leveraging technology to identify and interact with candidates. We have to identify candidates very early, sometimes years before they would ever start with us, so we’re using social media and other technology to accomplish that.
Can you give us a couple mistakes candidates make way too often that they should avoid.
The first one is obvious. We see way too many grammatical errors. What that signals to anyone who’s reading a resume is that the person lacks attention to detail. It happens very often.
Also, I’d advise people to include more highlights about their individual contributions. Making sure what they are incorporating into their resume indicates what they personally accomplished as individuals.