R ecruiting for your accounting practice is time, labour and cost intensive, so it’s understandable why the appeal of outsourcing this is strong.
But it’s one facet of your business I’d urge you to do yourself.
In the years since I became Head of Operations at GoProposal, we’ve grown from a team of 3 to 26 high performing individuals. Our staff retention is second to none, and our fortnightly staff survey results show we beat the industry standard in every single metric.
I truly believe that there is no coincidence between these statistics and the way we hire for our firm.
I also believe our hiring process can be used effectively by accounting firms too. I sat down with Simon Chaplin, founder of The Accountants’ Mastermind and successful Accounting Practice owner himself, to compare notes on the best strategies to grow your accounting practice with the best team…
Systemise your hiring process
The first step is to build out your hiring process. If you’ve already done this, can you review it with a critical eye? Is there a step missing that will help you filter down to the top candidates? The below steps are ones almost* all team members at GoProposal and GreenStones go through.
- Advertise the job on LinkedIn and job boards. Offer a refer a friend incentive to your staff
- Reply to ALL applicants
- Invite your longlist to submit a short video or complete a short test (if relevant to the role)
- Conduct informal 15-minute screening call
- Bring final candidates to in-person interview
- Give them a first day that Wow’s
- Have a 90-day plan in place for their probation period
Attract the best accountants BEFORE you advertise
1) Harness the power of LinkedIn
Hiring for your accounting practice should be a continual process. Even if your next hire is months down the line, you should always promote your core values and philosophies.
From being clearly outlined on your website, to you and your teams’ social posts, shouting about the culture you’ve fostered means that when the best candidates research your firm, they can see that your values are lived and not just splattered on a job description when hiring ramps up.
BONUS TIP: Encouraging your team to develop their own presence on LinkedIn will not only be the best advert for potential employees, but it will also be valuable for their own career. As leaders, it’s our job to make employees feel like they can explore their development beyond their current role.
Build your job description differently
2) Change your language from ‘we’ to ‘you’
In the job description, change the language you use from ‘we’ to ‘you.’ Tell them the experience the role will give them, not what it requires of them. Tell them what their days will look like in the role. Only outline what you require of them at the very bottom.
3) Hire on values, NOT experience
The usual advice, especially within the niche of accounting, is to be clear on what experience and qualifications you’re looking for.
But at GoProposal, we have found it is more important to
Specific skills and experience aren’t necessary. When people see a list of experience and skills required, it’s been proven that women will only apply if they match 80% of the requirements, while men will apply even if they only match 40% of them.
But if you include core values in the job description, encouraging people to apply if they align with them, you’ll attract ambitious people who you can upskill.
4) Always advertise the salary!
People have bills to pay. Even if they read the job description and it sounds like their dream job, if the salary doesn’t cover their outgoings, it’s not going to be a fit for them. Even if you only advertise a figure ‘in the region of,’ it saves everyone’s time.
5) communicate like a human being
In your messaging, from the job ad through to sending over the job contract to the successful candidate, speak to people like they’re humans.
It sounds obvious, doesn’t it?
But when we write job advertisements and emails to candidates, we feel the need to go into ‘professional mode.’ The problem with that is, you can fall into the trap of sounding robotic.
So, if you want to invite a candidate to interview, instead of saying:
Thank you for your CV. We would like to invite you for interview…’
I LOVED your CV and think your skills would be perfect for the role. It’d be great to have an informal chat with you to see if we’d be a good fit for you…’
Do you see how that difference can make a candidate feel special, rather than just one of a ‘batch’ of people in the running? And how changing the positioning to see how we could be a good fit for them makes the process feel more collaborative?
During the Interview
6) Help them relax
During the first 5-10 minutes of the interview, your only goal should be to make them feel relaxed. They’re not going to be able to be their best self in those first minutes. They’ll be overthinking and nervous. So, start with asking them to tell you more about their career for the past 5 years. It’s an easy question for them to answer without thinking too much.
7) Don’t write down their answers
While many companies use scoring systems to evaluate a candidates’ demonstration of skills, at GoProposal we measure how the interviewee makes us feel. This might sound ‘woo-woo,’ but it’s simply about asking yourself different questions in response to their answers.
Do you see how asking yourself questions like;
‘Did that answer seem well prepared?’
‘Did that feel dishonest?’
Can help you better listen to your gut feeling? This way, if anything does ring the alarm, you can ask them about it in the interview to give them a chance to explain.
8) Be honest about concerns
If they say something in the interview that doesn’t ring true, ask them about it. Don’t let it fester and affect your decision, because if you give them the opportunity to explain further, more often than not, they will be able to put your concerns at ease. And if they don’t, and the alarm in your head still rings, you’ll be surer of your decision and be glad you asked.
After the interview
9) Don’t wait 7 days to get back to them
Everyone we’ve hired in GoProposal over the past six months have had counter offers. It’s crucial to get back to them quickly, when other offers will be given to them. Acting quickly could set you apart from another employer dragging their heels.
10) Get them excited
How many times have you hired someone and before you know it, it’s their first day and you don’t know what to do with them?
Maybe you remember your first day in your career, when you were sitting twiddling your thumbs, not knowing what to do or wanting to bother anyone.
We make sure we only have one aim for the first day of a new employee…
To WOW them.
The whole first day revolves around a simple plan to set them up for success and get them excited to be working here.
It starts with an itinerary we email to them ahead of the day. That little bit of preparation lets them know what to expect and feel like they already have autonomy over their role.
Plus, with them set up and ready to go, you free up your own time.
Finally, to end the first day on a high, we send them home mid-afternoon with a bottle of champagne.
Watch before your next hire:
You can find more information on hiring for your accounting practice, plus what to do right through to the end of the probation period in the webinar below with me and Simon Chaplin.