How to Attract and Keep Great Accounting Talent

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I recently went through a job interview with a local bookkeeping firm. 

They did some great things that I would highly recommend to accounting professionals looking to recruit and keep great talent. First, they posted their job online (indeed.com in this case). There was a pre-interview accounting exam, an automated interview text message and a easy-to-use self-schedule interview feature, all done through the site.  This made me feel that they were dedicated to finding someone and that, as I got through each step, it was really going somewhere. 

I spent about 45 minutes filling out the application, 15 minutes corresponding with the web service to make an appointment for the interview, an hour preparing and driving to the location and another hour at the actual interview (waited for the interviewer for 15 minutes and spoke with them for 45).

However, during the interview, this individual got several phone calls and text messages that made noise.  They had not A) left their phone on silent or B) left it in the office. They also looked at their computer, off into the distance or back at their office.  From my perspective, they were unfocused, and my time and effort were less important than their phone. 

After the interview, I was assured that I would hear something by Friday or Monday at the latest. Both days came and went. Crickets. Nothing.

Not only does this make me feel that my time, effort and energy were not respected, but I feel sad for the other applicants, who most likely heard nothing.  

The experience caused me to reflect on the hiring process of accounting firms and come up with a few suggestions for how it could be improved. Recruiting and hiring CAN be positive, easy and financially fulfilling for all involved. 

Here are some ideas I came up with:

  • First, if you put out an ad, be specific about who you are and what you are looking for. 
  • Additionally, consider:
  • Who does your firm service?
  • What industries?
  • How many clients?
  • Do you have different departments for micro, small and medium-size businesses? 
  • Who does the interviewee report to directly? 
  • Does everyone work as a team or as individuals? 
  • Are receipt capture and review important to you and your clients, or are you only concerned with bank feeds and financials? 
  • What three things could this new team member achieve in the first 90 days that would make you proud and thankful to have them on staff? 
  • What benefits are you offering?

Consider all of these when you’re writing your ad. Start with the key skills the new person needs to bring to the table to make them a great fit. The more specific the ad, the better qualified the prospects will be and the more able they will be to serve your needs. This results in less time wasted for everybody.

Be descriptive, as people really do read the job posting. Do they need a two-year degree in accounting, industry-specific experience, experience working with high-touch clientele?  List out what a typical day would look like for that individual, and ask them to confirm that they feel that they can perform all of these duties. 

Additionally, I recommend giving them an accounting test. This will scare off individuals who are not up to the task and make those who are feel great about passing it. Make sure the test gives them a score afterward, so they don’t have to worry for days on end if they are any good at this thing called accounting.   

By taking these steps, you’ll ensure you find great talent and they feel good about interviewing with and potentially working for you.

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About Meryl Lane-Knoll

Meryl

Meryl is an accomplished bookkeeping professional, small-business owner and entrepreneur. Since 2002 she has worked closely with micro business owners in a variety of industries.  Years of trench, in person, traditional bookkeeping has lead her to a career in finding solutions for bookkeepers, tax professionals and small business owners. She is not your traditional bookkeeper. 

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