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by Vault Consulting Editors | March 26, 2010


We're now in the midst of survey season (the consulting survey went out last week), and it's always interesting to see what drives people to choose their firm over others. These factors certainly change over time; a couple years ago, one might have chosen one firm over another based on compensation, but now that the playing field has been somewhat leveled in that area, it doesn't play as big of a role in employment decisions. Something else to take into account is that the job market contracted over the past year, so individuals had less options than they did in the past, often leading them to accept the first offer they receive.

One factor that certainly plays a dominant role in career decisions is overall prestige. And by prestige, I'm referring to a firm's reputation in the industry, as measured by the perception of employees outside of that particular firm. Historically, we've put a lot of weight on the prestige metric, presenting our ranking of the top-50 consulting firms, which gauges just that: a firm's reputation in the eye of outside consultants.

There's no doubt that a company's reputation in the industry is critical to attracting top talent. According to a recent Kelly Services survey (, 83% of job seekers rated reputation as being an important factor in company selection. John Callagher, general manager at Kelly Services, told Recruiter magazine that regardless of unemployment levels in the economy, a firm needs to protect its reputation. "A company’s ethical reputation has become an increasingly important part of the employer branding, as today’s more savvy candidates look beyond the company’s products and services. Although the recession has led to a high level of unemployment, quality candidates are still hard to find and they will be attracted both by the ’feel good’ factor associated with an organization and also by the pride derived via association with that company."

But increasingly, consultants are telling us that prestige is only a small part of the story. So far in this year's survey (and remember, the survey has only been open for a week, so results will change over the coming weeks), 42% of consultants told us that firm culture is of much greater concern to them in choosing a workplace, compared with just 11% for prestige. See the results for yourself:

What do you feel are the most important factors in choosing a workplace? Has prestige become less of a concern in today's job market?


Filed Under: Consulting

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