How EY Attracts Young Talent with Employer Brand

WRITTEN BY: Jörgen Sundberg

One of the ‘Big Four’, EY is among the biggest global professional service firms in the world, so recruiting young talent is a must-do in order to maintain a real consistent stream of talent.

We’re with Steve Keith, Marketing and Communications Lead for Apprenticeships at EY, who spills the beans on their award-winning approach to attracting school leavers in the UK.

Have a listen to the interview below, keep reading for a summary and be sure to subscribe to the Employer Branding Podcast.

Listen on Apple PocastsStitcher RadioGoogle Play or SoundCloud.

Describe the corporate culture at EY.

  • Inclusive: We are well-known for valuing our people no matter their age, ethnicity, and culture. I identify as LGBT and they allow me to my authentic self in the workplace.
  • Flexible: Being able to work and deliver based on output rather than presenteeism.
  • Entrepeunial: There is a real can-do attitude, and if you have got an idea share it. And if it is a good idea, we’ll run with it!

What talent challenges are you faced with?

The world around us is changing quite fast and a being a big global business we have to change with it. For me specifically, it comes down to the gig economy. The rise in the way that talent is looking for greater flexibility and increased earning potential. So we have to find a way to integrate this thinking into the ways in which we work.

Having a cross-generational workplace also can be a talent challenge for me. The experience a person has does not carry as much weight as it used to but for me its all about the skillset of the person.

Can you tell us about the recent push for apprenticeships in the UK?

There is a huge opportunity to really drive up the standard of apprenticeships and to make them a really respected career option for young people. Apprenticeships are a great opportunity for those ready to go to work at 18 and want to develop the skills they have and the UK government have really pushed on companies like EY to improve upon the apprenticeships we offer.

How important is your employer brand?

It helps us to manage our reputation and essentially explain what we do. If you look at school leavers, they see Apple, Google, and the BBC, and they expect jobs to exist from those organizations. But they don’t see EY, and what employer branding enables us to do is help these young people understand the different types of opportunities available to them.

What’s your EVP and how is it communicated?

Start today. Change tomorrow” – We communicate this to 14-18-year-olds through a face-to-face style whereby we start with research and insights into what we do. This enables us to create personas for each our audiences. From this, it’s not only about students, but also parents and teachers!

We’ve moved away from activating our EVP on job boards and moved on to social media recruitment marketing, and have seen some unbelievable results from it.

What’s your best source of hire?

  • Face-to-face interaction: Not only in terms of our apprentice ambassadors but also managers, partners and everybody in the business.
  • Referrals: People meeting young people and helping them to decide where they fit and helping them through the recruitment process. It’s that switch from candidate to employee.

What initiatives are you most proud of?

We launched a parental advice campaign to coincide with GCSE results day all about what parents of these 14-18-year-olds think about the world of work and how we should be speaking to them. Here are some of the stats from that:

  1. 50% of the parents believed if they did give advice, it would hinder their child’s job chances.
  2. 30% said they don’t understand the jobs that exist today.
  3. 70% said they never had any guidance when they were their child’s age.
  4. 95% said they though apprenticeships were a good thing.

We launched through some national PR which had a great pick up, we then launched a panel at the National Theatre in London and from that, we delivered our solution to the problem with a day workshop for child and parents to come together to learn about the workplace today.

How do you measure ROI on employer brand?

For us a team we measure it around applications, offers, diversity, and apprenticeships:

  • We’ve seen a 400% increase in applications in the last 5 years, so the demand is there.
  • We are currently number 1 for RateMyApprentinship in the UK.

What are your top 3 tips for employer brand managers?

  1. Know your audience: Never presume things, learn about your audience through research.
  2. Take a long-term approach: Even when you’re being pushed to deliver something, there is a lot of value in taking a step back and mapping out the stages.
  3. Dealing with ambiguity: Anticipating the changes that are happening in the wider world.

Connect with Steve on LinkedIn.


Our newsletter is exclusively curated by our CEO, Jörgen Sundberg, for leaders who make decisions about talent. Subscribe for updates on The Employer Branding Podcast, new articles, eBooks, research and events we’re working on.


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