A team of outstanding accountants is essential if your practice is to succeed. Finding the right staff, however, is one of the most common challenges for accounting firms everywhere.
How can you attract accounting maestros who will efficiently provide outstanding value and service to your clients time and time again? Ian Vacin investigates.
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It starts with the perfect job advertisement. Any ad will get you CVs, but a great one will attract quality applications from worthy candidates who are a good fit for your firm. This will cut down on time and money your recruitment process can take and reduce your chance of failure.
Here are five steps to writing the perfect job ad for your firm.
Start from the beginning to make your workplace appealing
The recruitment process is becoming increasingly competitive in the accounting industry, with considerable power shifting toward the best candidates. Many firms struggle to compete for the top talent with firms that are perceived as progressive and modern. This means how your practice is perceived not just by clients and prospects, but also by those within the industry, is critically important.
To capture the attention and thus the talents of the best recruits, revisit your strategy and start fresh with your ad copy. To land the brightest you have to convince them why they should work for your firm, which means you’ll need to go into a little Marketing 101 for accountants. Remember, a job ad is still an ad for your practice.
Start fresh with your key information. Gather the existing position description (if there isn’t one, writing that will be your first step) and a description of your firm. Whatever you do, don’t take an old ad you’ve used before (or worse still, use someone else’s ad) and think you can just adjust that.
What you can do instead is look at job ads from the industry to see what you like and dislike - then combine the best aspects to ensure your ad is better. But make sure your ad still communicates an individual personality of your firm that portrays your culture.
Many job ads focus too much on technical aspects and applicant requirements. While these are important, make it a goal to get your potential recruits excited about the idea of working for you. To catch the attention of the candidate, emphasise the benefits your role will provide to them.
You probably have an idea of what your ideal candidate looks like, so think about how you can appeal to them. If you’ve already got great staff, ask what they love most about working in your firm, and make sure you touch on these things.
Use the right language & formatting
You’re advertising for one position, so write to one person, not to the masses. Speak directly to the reader by writing in an active tone and using personal language. Use subheadings and bullet points to make your ad scannable and write in an easy-to-read sentence structure that avoids unnecessary words. Remember, a job ad for a millennial accounting staff member will look, read and feel different than one written for a senior one.
The headline should be the last thing you write. They act like email subject lines for job ads—it’s your number one tool to get someone to click and read. Pick something clever that differentiates your role from the rest of the positions being advertised, but don’t make it too obscure—it still needs to show up in search results.
Think about the next steps
If you’ve encouraged a candidate to apply, make the next process clear to them, and consider options out of the ordinary. Some firms take the emphasis off CVs and accept online profiles like a personal website or LinkedIn profile in their place, while others require applications to come in the form of a video.
For firms hiring in volume and who need to filter responses quickly, require candidates to respond with a specific subject line (to filter out responses using automatic email filters), answer a key question in the email body (to screen for attention to detail), and provide a CV attached to the email (to review only the candidates that complete the first two actions correctly). Do what you think will help to filter out the best candidates from the pack.
Before you publish your ad, make sure you have a system set up so that applicants get an answer. You want them to remember their application experience with your firm positively, even if they don’t end up with you.
Above all, remember that any job advertisement needs to be unique to your firm. Every practice has their own culture, specialties and quirks, so it’s pivotal that you to understand what type of person is the right fit for your firm, and communicate in a way that will increase your chances of finding this person. If you can do this, you will be well on the way to overcoming any of your staffing challenges.