May 26th 2010
Accountants with specialized skills, who may be looking for additional work or a new job, and firms looking for highly qualified help, now can connect through Intuit’s employment tool, the Accountant Work Exchange (AWE).
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AWE is designed to balance the needs of the company’s customers using QuickBooks, Lacerte, and ProSeries – accountants who have too much work and can’t find enough highly qualified applicants who know their software, with the needs of qualified accountants who are looking for contract work or a full- or part-time job.
“Intuit has a long tradition of diagnosing customer problems and using technology to solve that problem,” said Tom Palfreyman, product manager, Intuit Accountant Work Exchange, “and the problem of finding qualified help has been around a very long time.”
AWE can help firms find qualified help, either within their geographic area or outside of it. AWE also helps eliminate the barriers to firm growth, according to the company.
“In-house jobs and opportunities for working remotely are posted on the site but we expect a growing trend to remote work,” Palfreyman said. “The site has proven exceptionally strong for professionals willing to work remotely, and in some cases the results have been life changing."
Alice Rovlin of Crescent City, California, came to the AWE after she was in a car accident in which her husband and daughter were severely injured and flown to different hospitals 100 miles away from her. With her husband not expected to survive, Rovlin found herself at home having lost her job. She was recovering from a broken collarbone and trying to meet the needs of her family while thinking of ways to provide for them.
An Enrolled Agent and long-time user of QuickBooks, Rovlin turned to the brand new Accountant Work Exchange. On her second try, after staying away for two months, she was successful, and went to work right away working remotely. She now has as much work as she needs.
“I could not be more thankful,” Rovlin said. “We did not have the resources to move and there were no accounting opportunities in my area. My husband is disabled with a brain injury but is doing really well, and my daughter has recovered. I will complete my MBA this year and plan to sit for the CPA exam next year.
“I looked for work that would qualify for CPA experience because there are not a lot of CPA firms in my area. The job board is simple to use; you can search by Zip code and just hit the button that says apply. It is a lot easier to connect than some of the other sites and has a much higher response rate. I applied for 10 jobs and received three responses – two for contract work and a W-2 hire.
“The work experience has been very satisfying,” Rovlin said. “I can provide for my family and take care of their needs. The down side of working remotely is that sometimes when I am on a call, you can hear the dog barking, and the kids don’t always understand. I have to teach them that this is my work time.”
AWE is both efficient and low-cost in comparison with some of the large employment boards. Accountants who are looking for help can save money that might be spent on advertising. They create job postings in an easy format which asks for commonly requested skill sets. Job applicants list their experience, qualifications and software certifications, and check the type of work they want.
“Work Exchange is a new product, just two years old, and we are still learning about accountants who are not willing to work on a remote basis,” Palfreyman said. “Two months ago we added a new tool that helps hiring firms in the qualification process. We analyze the profiles of all potential workers who match the job criteria and provide the matches to the company that wants to hire. This provides an additional level of screening that is unique to our offering.
“AWE offers a lot for free,” Palfreyman added. “Potential users get a free 30-day trial. They can register, build a profile, and post projects or jobs at no cost. There is no charge until a user decides to make contact, when they are asked to become a member. Members can post, apply, and connect on an unlimited basis for $35 per month or an annual fee of $249. The first 30 days of membership are free no matter which plan they choose.”
When posting a job, the accountant who is looking for qualified help lists the job title, type of work, a job description, salary, and start date. They then select from a list of commonly requested skill sets and certifications, which include experience with accounting and tax products from software vendors other than Intuit. Sample job descriptions are provided for additional help.
Applicants create a profile that includes certifications, skills, products used, and industries served, along with general statements. Searches, which are made by key word or Zip code, can be saved by the applicant.
“Our technology guards against fraud, but no one can completely prevent someone from giving inaccurate information online." Palfreyman said.
“While our ratings system and reporting mechanisms help minimize risk, users will need to conduct their own due diligence before hiring – whether by conducting a phone interview, asking to see test certificates or by trying them out on a sample engagement. Applicants could be given a QuickBooks file to work on for a couple of weeks to check on their level of competence, for example," he said.