To Recruit the Best and Brightest, Internal Audit May Need to "Lighten Up"
November 11, 2013
I often have commented in this blog on how vital talent is to the effectiveness of an internal audit function. Not only is it important for internal audit to have seasoned staff to assess risks and controls, but it is becoming increasingly important to infuse the department with fresh technology skills, analytical thinking, and other competencies that stretch beyond the accounting skills for which auditors traditionally have been known.
Following up on my recent blog on retention, I wanted to expand the discussion to recruiting new talent for our organizations. Specifically, what are we doing well, and what else could we be doing to attract the best and the brightest to the internal audit profession?
Recently, as I was contemplating creative ways to attract talent, I was struck by this musical message from Protiviti, in which a young employee strums a ukulele while singing about the many reasons he enjoys working for the company. Although Protiviti's approach (which is part of an entire content marketing strategy) may be unorthodox, it is a good example of how one company is using the Internet and social media to show, rather than tell, its story. I was drawn to a blog entry about how multiplatinum recording artist Dave Haywood (of the music group Lady Antebellum) began his career as a recruiter at Protiviti.
The Big Four accounting firms have taken a similar approach, using blogs, Facebook, YouTube, and recruiting microsites to connect with millennials through their favorite channels. The IIA similarly is reaching out to the next generation through our Internal Auditing Education Partnership program and our tri-language video "Internal Auditing: A Career for Today, A Career for Tomorrow."
It's not hard to understand why. We can talk exhaustively about what we like about internal auditing and why it is a great profession in which to spend one's career. However, to grow the profession effectively, we need to get young professionals and others to see themselves liking it. For internal auditing to be perceived as an attractive career option, we need to emphasize those things that are viscerally appealing and why this field resonates with us.
A recent global survey by recruitment and staffing agency Kelly Services found that personal growth, fulfillment, and advancement opportunities account for 75 percent of a person's career choice. Only one in five respondents ranked compensation as their top factor.
I contend that when it comes to personal growth, fulfillment, and advancement opportunities, there are few professions that could compare with internal auditing. How many other careers afford young people and other newly minted professionals such an "up close and personal" view of the forces — internal and external — driving an organization's success and failure? What other profession offers so much opportunity for life-long learning and cross-training? And what could be more exhilarating than lifting the hood of an organization and helping it to keep running by listening for the signals of risk amid the whirring of the corporate engines?
In a recent issue of Audit & Risk, a magazine published by the Chartered Institute of Internal Auditors in the United Kingdom, I offered my personal tribute to the profession and argued that it might truly be the "coolest profession on earth." Clearly, I'm biased. But then, internal auditing has afforded me incredible opportunities and taken me around the globe and into the halls of some of the world's largest companies and influential governments. In the past few weeks alone, I've traveled a third of the world — trekking across Africa, Europe, and most recently, China.
Never before have I been so excited about the opportunities for our profession as it assumes an increasingly important role in ensuring effective risk management, sound systems of controls, and trusted systems of corporate governance.
What do you like about our profession? How would you describe it to a young person looking to start a career? How can we become a talent magnet? Feel free to forward this to your friends in the profession and challenge them to respond. I think we could all benefit from putting our combined brainpower behind this topic.