Advanced techniques to resource great staff

Advanced techniques to resource great staff

In many accounting practices, hiring tends to be thought of as a tactical solution rather than part of the firm’s strategic planning. New staff members are recruited to replace somebody else or deal with a burning capacity issue—business development or future growth considerations are not always considered.

Guest post by Alisdair Barr

Accounting firms that have excelled at building great teams, however, take a resourcing approach. They not only consider every role with great clarity, they understand how any new hire will fit with their firm’s culture and the role’s potential growth, which ensures that any recruiting process results in improved outcomes for the firm and candidate.

To increase your firm’s chance of attracting and securing the right talent for your team, you need to consider your process and the use of external help to make sure you are undertaking current best practice.

Creating the job description

The keystone to resourcing great staff is the job description. In times past, this was simply a list of job activities. A modern job description for an accounting firm, however, links the role to your goals and values, and the role’s purpose and key competencies. Any job description you prepare should consider:

  • Position title and role overview
  • Qualifications, technical skills, and experience (it is worth grouping these into essential and desirable)
  • CPD requirements 
  • Your accounting firm’s vision
  • Job purpose
  • Behavioral competencies and values
  • Key result areas and how they will be measured

To help with this task, download Grad Mentor’s free template, which lets you complete your own job description and add your firm logo. You can also use this to update existing employee job descriptions—your annual staff review period is a great time to complete this activity.

Without a solid job description you will not have clarity on the skills and experience your business needs now and into the future. Worse still, you will attract candidates who do not properly understand the role’s function, your firm’s expectations, or who have a poor cultural alignment with the values of your accounting practice.

Key resourcing activities to complete

The resourcing process is also about attracting the right talent to apply for your role, conducting interviews, and making an assessment of candidates before selecting who to offer the role to.

Here is a quick checklist of issues to consider:

  • Advertising the role in the right place and at the right time
  • Assessing applicants’ CVs against the position description
  • Psychometric and cognitive assessments
  • Inviting a short list of candidates into interview
  • Conducting first and second interviews, as required
  • Assessing applicant’s interview performance against the position description
  • Completing status checks such as residency and qualifications
  • Completing reference checks
  • Selecting the preferred candidate and making an offer
  • Thanking unsuccessful candidates for their applications

There is a lot of work that goes into resourcing, and it is not uncommon for a thorough process to take up to three months from start to finish. Without taking the time to prepare a proper job description first though, your firm and your candidates will not have a clear focus.

For additional resources here, download the talent playbook.

Advanced resourcing techniques

Further advanced techniques, which may need to be completed by people with a more specialist skillset, will increase your chances even further of making a successful hire.

Psychometric testing

Psychometric tests are written tests completed by your preferred candidates to give you a scientific insight into your candidate’s skills, knowledge, and personality. They are more objective than interviews, and are often used as a part of an early screening process to help identify preferred candidates.

Different interview styles

Typically most job interviews are structured with a list of pre-prepared questions that all candidates are asked as a part of the screening process. There are other kinds of interviews, however, which you may wish to consider. Unstructured interviews or semi-structured interviews are great to explore how a candidate might solve scenarios or problems. Stress interviews are used to create an intentional stressful situation to see how a candidate performs under pressure.

Peer reviews

One of the challenges with interviews is that most interviewers bring some sort of personal bias to the table when they are undertaking the work. A peer review seeks to overcome this limitation by bringing in others from your firm to provide alternative perspectives. Peer reviewers can be used at all stages of the process from reviewing the job description to assessing interview candidates.

Hiring extra help for the heavy lifting

Depending on the role and the current job market, you might be overwhelmed or underwhelmed by the candidate responses you receive. Neither are great outcomes—too many applications can take you a lot of time to sort through what will largely be poor CVs, while not enough applications reduce your chances of finding the right candidate.

The total work required to properly resource a candidate is also often underestimated. This is why many accounting firms outsource some or all of this process to help with the heavy lifting and undertake one or more of the advanced resourcing techniques to improve their outcome.

Remember that your approach to resourcing says a great deal to candidates about your accounting firm. While you assessing are them, they are also assessing your practice to consider if you are the right fit for their career.

Once you select your preferred candidate, the induction process needs to begin. Onboarding your newest hire effectively is the first step in creating a long-term relationship, and it begins as soon as a decision has been made and finalized.

Alisdair Barr

Alisdair Barr

Founder of Grad Mentor.

gradmentor.com.au

Every day, Grad Mentor speaks to smart, ambitious and outgoing students about starting their professional career in accountancy, financial planning or information technology. They provide a highly qualified conduit between graduates and the industry, by identifying top performers and introducing them to workplaces. The process allows each client to work with their chosen graduate prior to offering them full-time employment. 

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