Which of the Big4 would you most like to work for?
“All 4 are equally inept and corrupt” said one.
“I object to have someone from Big 4 report to me” said another.
“None of the above” – most complained.
This LinkedIn poll, supposedly a bit of fun, was originally made to establish whom has the best employer brand. After all, the one that you want to work for the most, has the best employer brand in your opinion, right?
This seemingly harmless question has actually sparked off some cutting feedback. Disgruntled (ex)employees and ex-interviewees, also those failed applicants to big4 companies have directly given me more insight into what can be a pretty poor recruitment process, particularly in relation to interview time-scales, quality of feedback, and even the softer side of the process.
This just compels me back into a sweaty room with some world-class hackers to build the next release CV Channel which will allow you to apply to and negotiate with, the big4 (and many others) in a more human and engaging way – but that’s another story.
In most cases of people applying to the big4, the majority of applicants don’t get an interview, less a job, and the recruitment industry, and employers aren’t doing enough to protect employer brands though the recruitment process. It’s not always the recruiters fault. Much is to do with the process they are forced to work within. The very size of these organizations means their current processes are bureaucratically highly centralized, controlled and regulated, and often outsourced. And that can make you feel like just another number. I was once told by HR that if the candidate can’t hack it, then she shouldn’t bother, since she’ll probably be frustrated working for such a big company anyway. Yes, really.
Needless to say, this sort of attitude doesn’t do their Employer Brand any good, and by association their Consumer Brand suffers. Many of the people who don’t get jobs and have a hard time in the process, often go on to become customers – or more likely, a competitors’ customer.
When we are looking at the Employer Brands for these four businesses it’s important to remember that together they employ well over half a million people. So inevitably, cultures and personalities vary within different practices and divisions, and in different countries. In fact, it’s easier to find similarities in culture between some teams in competing businesses, than in the next team at the same employer. I guess that’s why a lot of people end up working for more than one in their career.
For what it’s worth, my advice to any applicants is to focus more on the individual people you will be working with; who, what, and where they are, and not be persuaded by the fancy marketing bumf (of which there is plenty).
So it’s surprising how many people have very strong opinions about the big4, particularly in the IT world. But there doesn’t seem to be enough evidence of consistency across the board for the disrespect held; less the sometimes (irrational?) hatred for these businesses.
Everyone I speak to wouldn’t work for this or that company for one reason or another. That’s just human nature. I’m much more surprised by some of the brands that find and retain the most engaged employees in spite of their Consumer Brand.
ps. the results of who had the strongest employer brand?
1st = Deloitte, 355 votes and 47% of the votes
2nd = EY, 155 votes and 21%
3rd = PWC, 141 votes and 19%
4th = KPMG, 101 votes and 13%