Attracting and hiring new recruits for your accounting firm can be a challenge. Experienced profiles although highly sought-after, are however rare. The search at times sure feels like you are looking for a white raven.
How do you win over the right profiles? And what aspects should you focus on during your search? Jens Spittael, Associate Director at Walters People, shares a few tips on how to hire the right candidates.
White ravens in a fast-evolving environment
Accounting firms often have trouble finding the right employees for their advertised roles. Professionals with a thorough knowledge of accounting and taxation are thin on the ground, and also highly sought-after in commerce and industry. Jens Spittael: “Over time, staff from an accounting firm may migrate to a company with other activities. But the flow of people in the other direction is less obvious due to the specific expertise of accounting firms. Consequently, accounting firms find themselves fishing for top talent in a very small pool.”
Although a fair remuneration package is important, it is, in this case, not the prime consideration. Jens explains: “The total remuneration of an accountant in an accounting firm is analogous to that within a private company. However, an accountant in a private company will tend to focus on tax matters within the company’s sector, whereas an accountant for an accounting firm must be familiar with taxation in several different sectors. Therefore, when wanting to move to an accounting firm, a private company accountant will need to ask for a salary just above that of a junior employee.”
So how do you win over the right profiles? And what aspects should you focus on during your search? Jens shares his insights.
1. Play on the applicant’s interests
Looking for applicants with a keen interest in accountancy and taxation? Well, play on that interest and highlight the many refresher courses and extra training that your accounting firm can offer. Juniors will be grateful for that opportunity, while more experienced profiles can, at long last, grow into real experts.
The job responsibilities inside an accounting firm are also more varied than in a company. “In an accounting firm, the employees have all kinds of companies as clients and they handle their accounting from A to Z”, Jens explains. ”Besides this, accounting firms have automated processes in place for many basic accounting functions, making the day to day tasks a lot more interesting for professionals who want to dig deeper into the subject. “
Why should you headhunt new talent if, maybe, you’ve already got the right candidate in house? Regularly screen the interests and aspirations of your staff, regardless of whether you run a big or a small firm.
2. Give a clear picture of the job
Obviously, no two accounting firms are the same. There are big differences in the extent to which technologies are used to make room for expert advice. In addition, the number of staff differs significantly. Consequently, create the right expectations among applicants and sketch an accurate picture of the job vacancy.
“Try to make the right match. That way, your new hire will stay longer in the job. A well-written job vacancy plays a key role here. You can have a recruitment agency proof-read it. They can help you describe the right skills and supplement the text of the job vacancy with additional elements that have proved to be crucial in other cases”, says Jens.
3. Highlight the fringe benefits of the job
Consider all the perks that your firm could offer. “A company car is a distinct plus for accounting firms”, says Jens. “That’s something they definitely need to push. Having a strong local presence appeals to some applicants too. And don’t forget to mention the expense allowances as they often constitute a nice top-up to the basic salary.”
4. Thoughtful personnel and retention management
Last but not least, why should you headhunt new talent if, maybe, you’ve already got the right candidate in house? Regularly screen the interests and aspirations of your staff, regardless of whether you run a big or a small firm. It would be a great pity if a talented employee were to leave the firm because he or she is unhappy about their job level or salary.
Perhaps an employee of yours would like to fast-track his career? A recent Salary Survey conducted by Walters People showed that 7 out of every 10 employees are thinking of changing jobs in order to advance their career. Jens comments: “If somebody has been in your company for some time, he’ll be relatively easy to retrain. He knows the firm and will most likely be grateful for the promotion. Furthermore, it is important to remember that experienced professionals are harder to find than junior employees.”
Are you looking to recruit an accountant?
If you need help or advice on finding the right professionals for your accounting firm, please contact one of our offices today and speak to our specialised consultants.