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An image from AccountingWEB's special report on the skills shortage

Extending the recruitment net


Attracting the best candidates from a shrinking pool of talent is something Peter Jarman, founder of PJCO Accountants, takes in his stride. 

4th Jul 2023
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Sourcing the right talent for your firm in the midst of a skills shortage can often feel like an uphill battle for firms competing over the next generation of accountants. With wages at a premium and a widening range of skills required to succeed in the industry, ensuring you get the best people for your team is essential.

Tempting the best of the current crop of applicants requires unique thinking to ensure that your firm stands out. This is an area in which Peter Jarman, founder of PJCO Accountants, has found great success in, understanding that widening the net and hunting for a variety of skill sets can help firms find the hidden gems in the employment market.

“The talent pool at the moment is an awful lot smaller than it’s been in the past 10 years, which is why we’re not just looking at graduates, we’re also looking for people who’ve learned some of those soft skills,” Jarman said. 

Jarman continued by saying that, while traditional skills learned through university are useful, recruiters can find talented individuals in areas such as hospitality and customer service. 

“One member of our team worked selling kitchens. She got great customer service skills out of that, as well as great negotiation. All of this can be transferable and these soft skills really matter.”

Widen the net

And it’s this choice to widen the recruiting net that Jarman argues highlights a wider shift in culture throughout the profession – something which firms need to realise in order to attract a broader range of talent.

“I think that the traditional image that a maths or accountancy degree are the only paths that bring you into the accountancy profession is wrong. We can show that our graduates who did degrees well away from accountancy or maths usually do better in the ACCA [Association of Chartered Certified Accountants] than their accountancy graduate peers,” Jarman explained.

“The profession needs to dispel the image of accountants sitting behind a computer screen tapping away with numbers,” he added. “So much of it is about talking to people, listening to their problems and then trying to come up with solutions for those problems, and most of those are soft skills, not numbers and accounting.”


Development opportunities

However, Jarman was keen to note that, while becoming more creative in your hiring process was essential, what really puts firms ahead of their competitors was their focus on development opportunities.

Jarman was proud to say that all of his young team have found significant development opportunities since joining his firm, and that prospective employees are looking for genuine benefits over superfluous perks.

“What we’ve got to do is actually make the job or the career that you have here fit what each of those individuals wants. So, we now have a fast track for employees through to, effectively, partnership or ownership of the business, giving them a genuine stake.”

This article is an extract from our new editorial special report: “Alternative guide to solving your skills crunch”. Download the free guide to discover practical strategies and real-life examples for recruitment, retention and using outsourcing and automation as alternative solutions.

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