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The Copywriter – March 2010

Firm Friends

 

A year after an uncertain time for employees, how are the Big Four firms now attracting new blood?

This time last year, Ernst & Young revealed that around 1% of its workforce were on notice of redundancy following job cuts at PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) and Deloitte. At KPMG, 85% of staff were signed up for flexible working to avoid job cuts.

But in 2010 there’s a different horizon, with reports that some Big Four firms are keeping student intake numbers up to avoid a recruitment gold rush when the economy lifts more decisively out of recession.

So, using word clouds to look at the top-level pages of their graduate recruitment websites, how are the Big Four appealing to graduate talent?

KPMG plays on its enviable status as ‘Sunday Times Best Big Firm To Work For’ above all else, with the rather anodyne words such as ‘people’, ‘clients’, ‘environment’ and ‘working’ in supporting roles.

At PwC the focus is on ‘career’, ‘work’/‘working’, ‘objectives’ and ‘skills’ – a pretty black and white proposition for any graduate.

Deloitte, however, lays its cards audibly on the table, as ‘training’ dominates, followed by ‘help’ and ‘professional’.

At Ernst & Young, the pitch is weighted in favour of ‘different’, ‘service’ and, critically ‘opportunities’ and ‘succeed’.

Thinking of each page as a stall at a university milk round, this is enough to help form an idea of personality …or lack of it.

By contrast, looking at similar pages for ‘experienced hires’, is the emphasis any different?

KPMG is all about ‘opportunities’ and ‘people’ who ‘flourish’ in ‘business’, making that Sunday Times award seem well deserved.

PwC cuts to the chase with ‘work’ dominating, but with ‘funding’, ‘balance’, ‘benefits’ and ‘package’ all equally weighted – perhaps more aligned to experienced professionals’ expectations.

Deloitte plays a rather uninspiring game here, with ‘people’, ‘business’, ‘work’ and ‘clients’, whereas Ernst & Young is focused on ‘clients’ (which Big Four firm isn’t?), but also on ‘helping’ ‘professionals’ ‘achieve’ as well as ‘opportunities’ and ‘challenges’.

For candidates with more expectations, these opening pitches are much more revealing.

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