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Internal Audit Talent Management

Do You Really Require Big 4 Experience

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Internal Auditing is a profession that requires diverse skill sets.  For example, there are auditors who specialize in construction, medical billing, pharmaceuticals, and information technology. Additionally, jobs for auditors seem to be fairly plentiful.  As a result, hiring, developing, and retaining talented audit professionals can be a challenge. When faced with hiring dilemmas, auditors tend to place the blame on many external factors such as no funding/support or lack of local qualified talent.  This may very well be true, however, the real talent problem may be more close to home and directly related to how we search for talent.

Take, for example, most internal audit job postings.  Many employers do a horrible job of identifying and communicating the desired attributes for open positions.  Instead, they post items that may impact search engine indexes, but miss the “performance” mark.  There is one recruiting firm that posts “Director of Internal Audit” positions but ask for someone who is currently a strong Manager or Senior manager.  Do you care about the position or the performance?  So if a current Director applies, will that person be turned away.  Probably not.  So what attributes are you really looking for?

Additionally, job boards are full of postings requiring “Big 4” experience.  This is another interesting situation.  Having worked in a Big 4 environment, I can tell you that, for the most part, it is a good experience.  However, there are fundamental flaws in only looking for candidates with Big 4 experience.  Allow me to explain.  I understand the thought process for organizations is one that holds Big 4 firms in high regard and there is a belief that individuals “graduating” from these firms possess certain success factors.  This may very well be true in, however, what this says to me is that you are allowing what is essentially a complete stranger to vet your potential candidates instead of doing it yourself.

Think about it like this, what if you posted a job and asked for only Harvard graduates?  Harvard is a prestigious institution, but does this guarantee a quality candidate.  Of course not.  And what about the Princeton graduate you missed out on because of the Harvard requirement.  Now let’s take this a step further, there is but one Harvard.  There are many say Deloitte offices out there.  Placing reliance on the consistency of the work experience in this environment is flawed.  During my Big 4 experience, I had the privilege of working with several office and noticed differences in the level of training and development among the various locations.

Before continuing, let me say this is not a Big 4 bash session.  I thoroughly enjoyed my time in a Big 4 environment.  So let’s talk about placing position titles in job postings.  I especially cringe when I see a posting that says looking for a strong Manager for a Director of Audit position.  Why?  Well what this says to me is that the organization is looking for a Manager to “promote” to Director.  However, they pay will not be in line with a typical Director salary because this person is not an experienced Director.  Translation, “we’re focusing on filling this position cheaply”.

So what do I suggest?  Do the opposite of the examples above.  Place focus on the competencies you require of candidates with lesser (notice the word lesser, not indicating that they are not important) focus on positions.  I had a colleague  who left Big 4 as a Senior Consultant to join an organization as an Audit Director.  She went on to do great things in her career.  What made the difference.  The recruiting organization clearly defined the skills they were seeking in a candidate, not necessarily organizational affiliations or positions.  And while I understand this is a tactic to filter applications, it may be too limiting.  I care less (again less, not that the past employer is irrelevant) about where you come than  what you have and can accomplish.

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Robert Berry (88)

Robert (That Audit Guy) Berry is a risk, compliance and auditing advocate, educator and innovator. He helps good professionals become better by creating articles, web services and training that allow them to expand their knowledge network.

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