The accounting industry has been dealing with a talent shortage over the last five years, mainly driven by technological changes. Accounting roles are changing from hard technical skills into advisory roles that require soft skills many graduates and accountants haven’t acquired. Top candidates are competing for the best roles and can demand more in terms of salary and benefits.
If you’re recruiting for new team members at your accounting firm, then you may already know how tough it is for employers out there. That’s why we’ve created this guide to help you attract the most talented applications and keep them around.
Look for other ways to fill skills shortages
The first question you should ask yourself is if you even actually need a new accountant on the team. Hiring, training, and retaining a new staff member costs your company significantly more than just their salary. According to estimates by Undercover Recruiter, the cost of hiring a new employee can be as high as $7000. And that doesn’t take into account the fact that for the first month a new hire only works at 25% of their capacity. Investopedia reports it can take up to six months for a new hire to be working at their full capacity.
With an employee, you don’t have the flexibility to increase/decrease their hours as your workload changes. Ask yourself what work is being covered by this new position, and if that work might be better given to an existing role, or outsourced.
Connect Outsourcing has built its business based on helping accounting firms deal with compliance resourcing to assist during busy periods without the hassle of hiring extra staff. Unlike other outsource companies who recruit a person, they have a team-based model, where they can provide a fully trained accountant on a fixed fee to work on a per-job basis. This means you don’t have to worry about HR, training, or managing a workflow process. Knowing your fixed costs means it’s easier to scale once the work comes in without increasing your overheads. The one thing that Connect can’t do is to offer a front-line staff member who would be able to manage the client relationships and that’s why having your own team of customer-facing advisors is so important.
Hire for soft-skills
As the accounting industry moves toward the advisory model where accountants partner with businesses to find ways to use the numbers to drive strategy, the hard numbers and compliance tasks are less in demand.
Every graduate will have the core accounting knowledge you require, so look carefully at their soft skills. How they’re communicating with clients, seeing the bigger picture, pivoting ideas in a fast-paced environment, using social media, problem-solving are all skills in high demand.
Stand out from the crowd
Most job ads are quite standard and dull, and they make the role sound dull as well. Top candidates are looking to be excited and challenged by their work, as well as opportunities to grow and progress. You don’t have to list every tiny task they might perform. Instead, focus on how their job fits into the company’s strategic direction.
Use your job ad to showcase your team culture. Ask other employees why they love working for your firm, and use their answers as the basis for your ad. What’s great about being part of your team? Don’t be afraid to be funny or colloquial – after all, accountants enjoy a laugh, too.
Make your move quickly
Because it can take time to recruit and get new hires up-to-speed, it’s important to move on the recruitment process as fast as you can. If you delay too long before making an offer to a candidate, you may lose them to another firm. An accepted offer doesn’t mean much until the first day that candidate arrives at work, so make sure you keep in constant communication and let them know you’re preparing everything for their arrival.
Incentivise staff to do recruiting for you
Many firms are having great success with recruitment reward programs, which offer a bonus for staff who refer a candidate who ends up getting hired. Your current team have connections within the industry, and they’re the best possible advertisements for your company. While recruiting to the marketplace tends to attract only active job seekers, a referral program offers access to passive job seekers who might be willing to move for the right position.
Also, research shows that people hired through referrals tend to stay at the company longer. go2HR have created a useful resource that explains how employee referral programs work and how you can implement one in your own company.
Top candidates are in demand and will have their pick of roles. What you offer in terms of salary and benefits will be a deciding factor. Make sure you’re offering a salary within the expected range for the role you’re recruiting.
Not everything is about money. If you can’t compete with larger firms on salary, you may be able to offer other benefits that will make your role more exciting. Flexible work arrangements and work-from-home time to fit around busy families is one of the key benefits candidates are looking for. Other benefits might include a company car, health insurance, company phone/laptop, free access to a gym, team lunches, fresh fruit in the office, personal development opportunities, and extra annual leave.
Keep them around
When you land amazing people on your team, you should do everything you can to ensure they stay. People get restless and look for new challenges if they’re not fulfilled in their role. A third of qualified accountants say they plan to change jobs this year, and your best and brightest talent are always the first to go.
Rachel Wilcox writes for Economia on retaining accounting talent. She suggests firms need to:
- Nurture initiative and provide opportunities for innovation and ownership.
- Develop people managers to create effective teams.
- Build their skills and provide growth opportunities. The more you give them the tools to leave, the less they’ll want to.
- Provide confidence-building feedback in a regular and timely way.
- Get to know them on a personal level and build a positive workplace culture.
- Offer mentoring and exciting new roles for your top performers. You should be constantly re-recruiting them.
- Show genuine appreciation for work, and back it up with action.
- Keep your promises, and build trust.
If you’re committed to building and maintaining a positive, challenging and enjoyable place to work, then you will attract people who thrive in that high-functioning environment. However, if you are struggling to attract the right staff, then give Connect a call to see if they can help to resource your compliance tasks for your practice. All the best for your recruitment!