Rapid growth equals hiring
KPMG needs 2,000 new graduates and 500 qualified professionals
Mainland firms are going global and growing rapidly, and KPMG, one of the Big Four accountancy firms, is no exception.
John Harrison, chairman of KPMG Asia-Pacific and China, said the key to this phenomenon was recruiting and retaining the right kind of staff for an ever-expanding and changing firm
'This is an exciting time for us. We've grown so fast over the past decade that we need to recruit extensively in the mainland to match our firm's development,' Mr Harrison said. 'This year alone we are going to hire more than 2,000 new graduates and 500 qualified professionals. Among the 2,000 fresh graduates, about 1,700 of them will be recruited from and work in the mainland. And we expect this trend to continue well into the future.'
Mr Harrison said KPMG welcomed graduates from various backgrounds. 'We don't only look for accountants, we have employees who studied engineering, biology and many other disciplines. We can teach accounting skills, but we cannot teach intelligence or professionalism. We need people who are good at what they do, but they also need to be ambitious, dedicated, and know how to work as a team.'
Many top firms confirm that a shortage of quality professionals has become a worldwide phenomenon, and businesses have been forced to step up their efforts to attract the right kind of staff. Yet Mr Harrison said people were always vying for a spot at KPMG.
'We received more than 40,000 applications from people with bachelor's and master's qualifications this year for 2,000 job openings, so fortunately we do not have a problem recruiting graduates. We have a great opportunity to select the best from a large amount of candidates.'
KPMG China has 11 offices and all of them are hiring. With four training centres in Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou and Hong Kong, new graduates must go through intensive training during their first two months to learn about the firm's policies, culture, values and operations.
But according to Mr Harrison, while there are always new graduates lining up with resumes in hand, finding professionals with industry experience is challenging. 'We need more team leaders to fill our senior positions. We want to hire qualified professionals with four to 10 years' experience in the industry, but it is a competitive environment, particularly for those with Mandarin skills. This has proven to be our biggest challenge, but it's also forced us to look at recruitment in a whole new light,' he said.
In the face of such a competitive employment environment, KPMG has had to revolutionise its approach to recruitment. The firm also believes that if you want to get the best, you cannot just rely on typical newspaper vacancy ads or employment websites.
The firm aims to become a global employer of choice, attracting and retaining the best. The company adopts innovative recruitment methods to attract new staff to China. These include setting up overseas recruitment desks to attract new staff, especially Chinese nationals who have been living and working overseas. KPMG holds large-scale recruitment drives in China and the west. It keeps close ties with accounting associations to help publicise its job openings. Current staff members can even get a cash bonus for successfully referring someone to the firm through the Employee Referral Programme.
Mr Harrison said the firm also encouraged staff to participate in the Global Opportunity Programme to work overseas at other KPMG offices. 'They've learnt new skills, improved their language ability, and benefited from the international experience. We want our staff to take advantage of these opportunities as, in the end, everybody benefits. What's good for our staff is good for the firm,' Mr Harrison said.
Because KPMG is a global organisation it often hires from KPMG member firms around the world. 'Our people come from every corner of the world. Having this kind of international team provides a great advantage to us. And people who are willing to make the move to China find the experience to be invaluable.'
As more and more international companies strengthen their ties in China, there is no doubt that the competition for qualified and experienced staff will continue to intensify. At the same time, it also provides opportunities for those willing to transfer to China.
'Our employees are willing to work on the mainland because of the tremendous business opportunity. They learn the regulations and how companies operate in China. This gives them valuable experience and helps their personal growth,' Mr Harrison said.
The firm supports its employees who take on long-term assignments in China. 'We provide housing benefits, health care benefits, and education allowances for our employees and their families. There's also a settling-in allowance to help them move in and live in a hotel for some time while waiting to move to a new home.'
KPMG has 11 offices in China
It plans to recruit 2,000 new graduates and 500 qualified professionals in the mainland, Hong Kong and Macau
New graduates will receive intensive training during their first two months at training centres in Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou and Hong Kong to learn accounting skills and company operations
Qualified professionals will need at least four years of experience
Knowing how to speak and write Chinese is not essential but would be an advantage