In spite of global economic uncertainties, KPMG China is increasing its intake of graduates for 2012 from around 1,500 last year to between 1,700 and 2,000 this year. Such recruitment is an integral part of the firm's hiring strategy that supports its 9,000 employees in 13 offices, including China, Hong Kong and Macau.
'We are mindful of the economic uncertainty, but we want to make sure we get the best people with the right skill set,' says Maggie Lee, partner, human resources, KPMG China, adding that the hiring policy and strategy is the same for the whole of China, including Hong Kong. 'Talent is not developed overnight. We invest a lot in our recruitment programme and talent development,' she says.
Apart from graduate recruitment and subsequent training, the company also offers regular internships and conducts an Elite Programme.
The last is offered to university freshmen in Hong Kong and second-year students in China. In both cases, students receive training at the firm and work full-time during peak season. Those who demonstrate the required level of skills and performance and are a good fit with the KPMG culture will be offered a job in their second year with the Elite Programme, so they can secure employment even before graduation, while getting further training in their third programme year before joining the firm.
'The programme gives them more opportunities to understand the profession and make a decision early,' Lee says.
KPMG China also uses lateral hiring, shifting experienced employees to its expanding tax and advisory business lines. 'We hire all around the year, depending on our business needs. We hired a few hundred people in the past 12 months,' Lee says.
Candidates should have a global mindset, be committed to the profession and passionate about their work, and they should find a way to express these qualities during interviews. The firm first uses an aptitude test to select those who are the best fit with the company. Following this, a line manager will interview the candidate and, finally, they will meet with a KPMG partner.
'We explain to graduates our culture and values that include leading by example, respecting the individual, acting with integrity and seeing facts and providing insights,' says Lee. 'KPMG also puts emphasis on working well as a team and being open and honest in communication.'
Applicants should have good communication and presentation skills, plus business acumen, and able to work with a team both internally and with clients. For lateral hires, a business network and networking skills are important.
'We have a reputation for high integrity and professionalism, as well as a high-performance culture. We expect our staff to work smart, efficiently and effectively, and we reward high performers,' Lee says.
The company typically recruits locally, but sometimes people are seconded in and out of Hong Kong to get the job done. This also happens for development purposes - to help nurture employees' global mindset. Short-term secondment usually takes three months compared with one to three years for long-term assignments in any of the 150 countries in which KPMG is present.
Depending on business needs, staff may also have the opportunity to travel to China. Therefore, apart from English and Cantonese, speaking Putonghua or any other Chinese dialect is a plus, as are any additional languages.
The company offers mandatory training courses to satisfy continuing professional development requirements and training in soft skills, people management, and 'my life' courses, such as cooking, wine tasting, yoga or other sports. There are also family outings to Disneyland and Ocean Park.
'We would like our people to work smart, work hard but also enjoy working here,' Lee says.
The firm also expects staff to be committed to their communities, and invests money, time and employees' skills in giving back to society.