How Grant Thornton Aligned Recruiting with its Purpose-Driven Brand to Hire Top Graduates

January 10th, 2019
Richard Waite, Grant Thornton UK

Many organizations are infused with a set of “key values” that make them unique.

When it comes to recruiting, those key values have the potential to make a tremendous difference. They can act as a North Star for your recruiting efforts generally, guiding everything from your recruitment marketing campaigns to how you engage with candidates. Ideally, these values become so lived-out and authentic that they attract talent to you.

Transitioning to a Mission-Oriented Brand at Grant Thornton UK

Three years ago Grant Thornton embarked on a journey to become purpose-led. What does that mean? It means that as an organization - from the top down - we believe that we have a responsibility to society and the economy through the work that we do with clients. And, that everybody in the firm plays a part in driving this purpose today.

Our purpose drives who we work with, what we do with them, what we speak out on, how we act as a business, and who we hire.

Candidates are Looking for Meaning and Purpose

Top quality graduates aren’t just looking for a paycheck anymore, they’re looking to make a difference. They believe that there is a better way of doing business that works for the whole of society and are looking for organisations to tell them how they can make a wider impact through the work that they will do.

Our purpose speaks to the student market and to those candidates who will be a perfect fit for the workforce of the future. Our next step was to align our recruiting strategy with our organizational purpose.

Auditing and Refining the Candidate Journey

From pre-application to onboarding, we conducted a full audit of our hiring process. While nothing was technically wrong, the candidate journey was far from distinctive. We weren’t really showing candidates what makes working for Grant Thornton unique, and we weren’t making our purpose clear.

This is a good problem to have. It is much easier to bring a recruiting process in line with a purpose-driven culture than it is to create that culture from scratch.

We addressed every step in our hiring process:

  1. Pre-Application. We worked with our marketing team to identify our employer value proposition. We also worked with them to create content showcasing our culture, from employee case studies, to blogs, to stories about the impact Grant Thornton employees were doing in wider society and the broader economy.
  2. Application. Prior to the audit, our application took over an hour to complete. We’ve since cut our application to just minutes, and focus less on the information that exists on a candidates resume, and more on questions about how they have worked in a purposeful way in the past.
  3. Online tests. We worked with our assessment provider to design an immersive situational judgment assessment that went beyond the legacy survey-based assessment experience.
  4. HireVue OnDemand. Rather than try and intuit how to make the OnDemand interview experience better, we ran focus groups with last year’s candidates. We uncovered a novel way to make the interview experience stand out from our competitors’: move the case study from our final “assessment day” into the OnDemand interview. We also took this opportunity to create a personal touchpoint with candidates. Every candidate invited to a HireVue interview receives a coaching call from a recruiter to help them prepare, and each candidate receives personalized feedback after the interview (even if they did not move forward).
  5. Experience Day. This is our final “assessment day”. We reengineered the day-long experience to focus on Grant Thornton’s unique approach to client engagement (“appreciative inquiry”). Rather than leave feeling assessed, candidates leave feeling inspired about what they can do to contribute to our purpose-driven culture.
  6. Pre-joiner engagement. Most of our offers are delivered 6-12 months prior to a candidate’s graduation. There’s a significant risk of top candidates being poached by larger firms. To combat this and keep hires engaged, we built a candidate community where graduates can interact with each other and with current trainees and hiring managers. Exposure to our mission on a continuing basis helps remind top graduates that at Grant Thornton they’re shaping more than just their career.

Aligning Recruiting with Organizational Purpose: The Results

The realigned recruiting approach has been a success across the board.

In terms of the pre-application and application, we’ve actually seen decrease in the number of applications we receive (~30% decrease). That said, we’ve also seen a significant increase in the success of applicants (41% increase in success rate). The new approach is weeding out applicants who would have been a poor fit. We are dealing with a lower number of candidates, but the candidates we have are of a much higher quality.

The robustness of our screening shows in the percentage of candidates we hire after our Experience Day. This season we hired 73% of all candidates who attended - a record high - compared to 55% last season.

We’ve also gained some efficiencies as a result of overhauling our process. In 2017 we saved 950 chargable hours of hiring manager time (~£1,000,000) and decreased yearly operational expenses by £249,000. The time savings means Grant Thornton recruiters can spend more time with hiring managers and providing candidates a more personalized experience.

Attracting Graduates in 2019 and Beyond

It’s no secret that recruiting is undergoing a rapid evolution. Today’s candidates are more mission-oriented than ever before, and the number of technologies available to TA teams is growing exponentially. This is both an incredible opportunity and - potentially - daunting.

Today, the hiring process is more than a screening funnel. It’s a way for you to stand out in the minds of candidates at a time when they’re bombarded with more noise than ever. Hopefully some of the things we’ve shared here can help you translate the values that make your organization unique into a differentiated hiring experience.

About the Author:

richard waites employeeRichard Waite leads an engaged and high performing resourcing team of 35 individuals who collectively have responsibility for recruiting 1600 new hires each year for Grant Thornton in the UK. Richard has driven a culture of innovation and the team are known in the market for their social mobility, candidate experience and digital recruiting strategies among others. Over the past year the team have been focused on driving purpose-centred hiring across trainee, experienced hire and executive level recruiting. Find him on LinkedIn.