Three stages to hiring the perfect accountant

More than any other function in your accounting firm, hiring staff has the potential to deliver the widest range of outcomes. 

It can save or cost you a tremendous amount of time.  It can be a lever for additional profits or a cash flow drain.  It can build a culture you want to be around or a toxic environment.

It is no exaggeration to say there is no more important requirement for your accounting firm, than hiring the right talent. 

The success or failure of your hiring is more than getting the right people in the door. A common mistake many accounting firms make is to jump straight to recruiting, without first defining (or even considering) their persona and policies. A true hiring process goes beyond recruiting to becoming a firm that attracts and retains great talent.

In this article, you’ll learn steps to master the three key stages of hiring that successful accounting firms put in place.

Clearly articulate your personality

Imagine that perfect hire. Maybe you have specific skills in mind with the right experiences and character traits that fit in with your culture. Your ideal person checks every box. Of course, you desire this type of talent, but unsurprisingly, so do most other accounting firms.

This is why the first step in hiring great people is to attract those people to your firm. You have to stand out amongst a sea of other potential employers so that the best potential recruits see you as a place they want to work at.

To achieve this, you have to be mindful of your external experience. In many ways, your external experience is marketing and branding. Oftentimes, branding is seen as important for finding clients but recruiting works the same way.

You need to articulate who you are, what you stand for and who fits your business. When you have a job opening, your candidates are going to do their homework before they decide to apply. They’ll research your website, your social media accounts and try to get a feel for what it would be like to work at your firm.

Action steps to define your personality

Define your business persona: Are you trendy and tech-centric? Are you professional, corporate and authoritative? Define your personality and make sure you and your team are clear on the core values of the firm.

Match your offline presence to your persona: Your offline presence typically comes through in your employees and building. Take steps to educate your team on what it means to work for your company. The best employees are usually referred by your existing team. Engage with your team to find out what they like about the business and make sure they know when you are looking to add to the team.

Match your online presence to your persona: Look at your website. Does it stand out from any other accounting firm? Many job descriptions and websites provide generic information that could be found on any site. Make sure your persona comes through in your website, social media accounts, and individual profiles.  

Develop internal policies to match your persona

Once your external appearance is clearly defined, you need internal policies to match. Here are some questions to think about.

  • What is your pay structure?

  • What bonuses do you offer?

  • Do you provide perks that appeal to your ideal employees?

  • Do you have a professional development program?

  • Do you have the best software or old stuff that breaks?

  • What is your culture like?

  • What is the mission and vision of the business? 

A good way to dig into these answers is to have conversations with your current team. They will know what the benefits are in working at your firm. If there is a disconnect between what you want and the true experience at the firm, you can make adjustments.

These conversations will hopefully create a rapport with your team leading to more conversations with their network to find more talent. The key at this stage is to find alignment between your external persona and internal reality.

Implement a rock-solid recruiting process

Once you’ve defined your external communication, the key to recruiting is to stay consistent. If you search for accounting job ads, you’ll see a lot of the same words and language. 

At the recruiting stage, it pays to think like a marketer. In marketing, your objective is to communicate the right message to the right audience. In recruiting, you want to communicate the right ad to the right candidate and ensure they make an immediate connection.

In order for your job ad to stand out, it needs to include something unique about your firm. The persona you’ve developed should come through so that the right candidate will read the ad and think, “I would fit in at this place.”

Getting the words right is one side of the coin, but it’s equally important to ensure the right people are seeing the ad. 

How to spread the word about your job posting

Email signatures: You and your staff are consistently emailing people who may know someone looking for work. Update email signatures to say you’re hiring and link to the job ad. This gets a lot of exposure to potential candidates and is free. 

Website and social media: Update your website with your job opportunity and how to apply. It’s also a good idea to share the ad on social media. You can do it from your company’s pages and also encourage your team to share individually with their own networks.

Linkedin and/or recruitment sites: A variety of options exist for a wide distribution of your job opportunity. Make sure you have the ability to filter as these can often inundate you with candidates. 

Ask people in your network: The best employees come from referrals. A great practice is to ask your employees and others in your network if they know anyone who might be a fit. 

Beyond the messaging, there is a step-by-step process to recruiting you can follow once your message and persona are clearly defined. Karbon has extensive resources to build out your rock-solid recruiting process:

With your persona in place, you can dive deeper into these resources and build out a recruiting process that stands out from your competition and attracts the best people.

Your team determines your firm’s success or failure. Take these steps and build a culture you’re proud of and a team that you can count on.

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