From XU Magazine, 
Issue 28

Recruiting and Retaining an A-Team: Best Practices

Most Partners and Directors know that recruitment is one of the most important aspects of building and growing an accounting firm. Delivering high-quality services is next to impossible without a solid team in place—even if you have wonderful clients, efficient internal processes, and a stellar tech-stack. 

Unfortunately, recruiting has traditionally always been difficult in the accounting industry, and the situation has worsened since the beginning of the pandemic. In addition to this, many firms are also transitioning from compliance into advisory, so they’re not looking for a “typical accountant”—they’re looking for the much rarer well-rounded, high-performing individual.

So how do you build and keep an A-Team? 

Finding New Talent for Your Firm

As a hiring manager, the first thing you need to do is clearly define the role you’re hiring for. Consider the purpose of the role, the KPIs you’ve established for it, and what skills/experience the new hire needs to have. 

Once the role has been clearly defined, there are two ways to kick off the hiring process, each with their own benefits: 

  1. Hiring Directly—Placing Your Own Job Ad:
    Hiring directly means you’re in full control of the advertising process. You’ll also save a large placement fee. However, hiring directly can be incredibly time consuming, so you need to consider if adding this to your current workload is a viable option.
  2. Using a Recruitment Agency:
    A recruitment agency can introduce you to the best-quality candidates in the market and save you massive amounts of time. Some job postings can receive well over 100 applicants, who then need to be reviewed, shortlisted, screened, and interviewed. A recruitment agency can handle all of this, and you’ll only have to pay them once the role is filled.

Attracting the Best

Hiring the right candidate isn’t just about running an ad and hoping for the best—your firm needs to be an attractive opportunity. If you’re serious about hiring the best of the best, it’s time to examine your work culture. Many candidates now gravitate towards firms who:

  • Have a clear vision and mission statement
  • Positively impact both the local community and the environment
  • Hold the right values and work with the right clients
  • Offer flexible and remote work options—especially post-Covid. 
  • Create opportunities for career progression.

Another key area for accounting firms to think about is brand awareness. What do prospective candidates know about your firm, and why? You can increase your brand recognition by:

  • Having a professional-looking website and social media platforms—candidates WILL research you online!
  • Promoting awards or accolades your firm has won–candidates want to work for top or emerging firms.
  • Showing you value and prioritise employees through an employee wellness program, staff education, or internal promotions for your superstars.
  • Having a professional looking logo and visual identity.

The Interview Process

Once you have these pieces in place, you’ll need to create a fantastic interview process. A process that’s too long or disorganised may put off the best candidates, while one that isn’t stringent enough will let in the worst. Be clear on:

  • how many interviews each candidate needs to go through
  • what tasks, if any, you’ll need them to complete

Knowing these things ahead of time will help candidates be more relaxed throughout the process. Remember, you need them to be themselves so you can see if they’re a natural fit for your firm.

Retaining High Performers

The more you understand and engage your employees, the more likely they are to stay put. Consider offering:

  • On-target earnings or bonuses
  • Perks (free amenities, learning opportunities etc)
  • Performance bonuses
  • Flexible working options
  • Regular reviews (weekly or monthly) with consistent pay reviews (every 6-12 months)

Employees who feel valued, acknowledged, and appreciated are unlikely to leave their positions.

And finally, work-life balance has become exceedingly more important over the past two years. With new technology automating many time-consuming tasks, employees are looking at the value of what they can offer, rather than the hours they can put in. Focusing on productivity shows your staff that you understand how important their time is, both inside and outside the office.

Why leave it there?

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