How to find accounting staff (particularly decent staff) is one of the most common pain points for accounting firms. In fact, finding and acquiring great talent has actually been identified as the most challenging aspect of managing staff and it doesn’t seem to be getting any easier. Hiring the wrong employee can be costly and time-consuming and can ultimately affect your firm’s overall success, so to avoid this, this article outlines how to find accounting staff that will contribute to your growth and success.
How to find accounting staff
The challenge to hiring the right accounting staff for your practice is finding them in the first place. Your ideal employee needs to have the perfect combination of technical skills, competencies, and accounting software experience. Therefore you need to make sure that your recruiting process targets the right people.
To find good accounting staff that you can recruit, you need to:
- have complete clarity about the role
- approach this as a sales and marketing exercise
- have a rigorous hire process
- not forget about the induction period
While these are important, it is even more essential that you consider your current needs; don’t just recruit to a role that you had once before!
Think about what roles you need right now; what you need to grow your firm in the direction that you want; and how this role would fit into your existing team. Once you know this, you can write a full job description for each vacancy.
Recruitment is a sales and marketing exercise
When thinking about how to find accounting staff that are right for you and your firm, you need to approach this as a marketing and sales exercise.
Yes, you could use recruitment consultants and pay for recruitment advertising, but there are potentially better and cheaper ways. You will typically pay 25% of the new hire's annual salary to a successful recruitment consultant, so you can really save by putting in some time and effort into marketing the role yourself.
To attract the right employees, you could:
- Give the job description to all of your staff - you could even consider offering a reward if they introduce someone who gets the role
- Search LinkedIn for suitable people - let's be honest, it's what recruitment consultants do!
- Blog about what you need
- Post messages in online forums and LinkedIn groups visited by the type of people you are looking for
- Tweet about the role and what you need
- Ask your network, suppliers and even clients
- Use your LinkedIn status update to tell people what you need
- Have a rigorous hire process.
Just as with your sales efforts, you want your recruitment marketing to weed out unsuitable people as quickly as possible, but to encourage the good ones. Here are a few ways to do just that:
- Use an application form rather than their CV - you can tailor this to the skills and competencies which you are looking for.
- Have a scoring process for the application forms - this allows you to discard some applicants at this stage.
- Complete telephone interviews with your long list and score the answers - use a standard interview plan for each person and request permission to record each call. That way you can go back and review what people said.
- Interview and test your most promising candidates - the people that 'pass' the telephone interview should be quickly called in for a final interview and some 'tasks' to complete. Think about what tasks you can give them so that they can demonstrate competence, e.g a set of draft accounts with a couple of issues that you would expect them to find and comment on.
- Make a note of all promising candidates - today's "discards" may be tomorrow's suitable applicants so it may save you time in the future if you keep their details.
For a more comprehensive breakdown of recruiting for yourself, read our ultimate guide to attracting the right team members to your small accountancy firm without using recruitment agents.
It doesn't end with the job offer
So you have taken on the challenge of “how to find accounting staff,” now it’s time to focus on how to make sure they align with your why and contribute to your firm’s growth and success.
When you have found your new member of staff, make sure you give them an 'orientation' or 'induction' period. In this time, you will need to be sitting down with them daily (in the first few weeks) and weekly (for the first few months) clarifying expectations and giving them the help and support they need to become a high performing member of the team.
This initial period is the most costly to you and the most nerve-wracking for them. Help them learn the unwritten rules (yes, there are always some!) of your firm as quickly as possible.
What you need to take away
Yes, recruiting the right employees for your firm is a challenging process and yes, it will take some time, but the rewards will be worth it! (Still need more help? See how to build an effective recruitment process for your small accountancy firm).
When thinking about how to find accounting staff, make sure that you remember the key to attracting and hiring the right people:
- You have to know the role that you need to be filled
- You need to market this role clearly and to the right audience
- You need to have a rigorous recruitment process to get your best prospects
- You need to put in the time to train your new employee and mould them to how you want them to be.
If you do all of these, finding the right staff shouldn’t be a dreaded aspect of running your firm ever again.