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Grant Thornton's game-changing talent selection strategy drives market shift

Two years since Grant Thornton UK LLP launched its innovative approach to trainee talent selection the firm reveals the impact its pioneering strategy has had on the business, on candidates and on the wider recruitment market.

Introduced in 2013, Grant Thornton's market leading assessment strategy for trainee candidates was a radical departure from the norm, removing traditional entry criteria such as UCAS requirements, and instead adopting a holistic approach to spotting talent which focuses on behaviours, shared values and potential.

Since adopting the new approach to talent selection the outcomes for Grant Thornton include:

A faster route to hiring the right talent

Since changing its assessment criteria the firm's targets have increased by 25% to over 500.  Targeted talent spotting over mass attraction has reduced application numbers by 14%. Having a focus on quality, rather than quantity, has resulted in hiring more of the right talent quicker.

Greater diversity

Grant Thornton has also seen noticeable shifts in the diversity and breadth of its intake. In 2014, 12% of new trainees wouldn't have been able to apply in previous years due to their academic profile.  In 2015 that  figure will be closer to 20%.  The firm is tracking this talent within the business and is seeing comparable levels of performance and professional exam success when measured against the cohort as a whole.

Breaking down barriers

Providing opportunities for untapped talent is breaking down historical barriers to social mobility. Those who have joined the firm under the new criteria are more likely to have attended state school, taken on caring responsibilities, be first generation university students or have received free school meals. Widening access, boosting social mobility and being more representative of the wider society helps the firm better serve clients and grow the economy as a whole. Grant Thornton is looking to develop this part of its strategy even further and is exploring how student achievements can be placed in context relative to socio-economic background and previous access to opportunity.

Driving a culture of innovation and coaching at grass roots

Innovation and coaching are central to the way Grant Thornton selects talent. In the last two years the firm has been using  a digital assessment platform, has launched the award-winning candidate community Grant Thornton: I've applied and incorporated 1:1 personal candidate coaching. For candidates in the final round stage of application the combined used of these resources increases their chances of securing an offer from 40% to almost 65%.

Inspiring others to follow suit

Grant Thornton's strategy has set the climate for recruitment within the professional services sector. PwC recently announced that it has taken its first steps on a similar journey.

Sacha Romanovitch, CEO-Elect, Grant Thornton UK LLP, said: 

"When we launched a new approach to trainee selection, it was a bold move for us. We operate within a sector that takes a very traditional approach to academic entry requirements and talent identification.  We were pioneers of what was considered a risky strategy in the external market due to the scale of, and investment associated with trainee recruitment and development which includes rigorous professional qualifications.

"It's fantastic to see other firms, like PwC, following suit and we’d challenge all other large recruiters to re-evaluate traditional beliefs around talent identification and explore how they could widen access, open up opportunity and further drive a vibrant UK economy.

"We're driven by our core belief that to unlock potential for dynamic organisations, we need a socially inclusive mind-set to deliver a solid, commercial advantage.  When hiring we are looking for potential, not just past performance.

"Embracing diverse perspectives is intrinsically linked to the success of our firm and the UK economy as a whole. It is critically important that everyone in society has the opportunity to participate in a vibrant economy – it is just the right thing to do."