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Skills shortage: Why your digital voice matters

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From social media to your website, accountancy firms’ online presence and digital voice are essential in overcoming the skills shortage.

17th Apr 2023
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Amid talk of the so-called ‘great resignation’, some accountants might roll their eyes and rightly say: “this is nothing new”. And that’s true — staff shortages have rocked the accountancy sector for a number of years, even before the Covid-19 pandemic. 

Indeed, the Hays Salary and Recruiting Trends 2019 guide found that an astonishing 89% of firms in the sector had experienced some kind of skills shortage that year, which is just a single percentage point shy of the proportion of firms that experienced the same in the last 12 months. 

However, this skills shortage is different from before, precisely because of the pandemic and the new hybrid-working system it turned into the new normal.

Many of the old-stock retired early; some people moved into a new sector, and, with more than a third of UK workers saying they would quit their job if their employer demanded they return to the office full-time, others changed firms to continue to enjoy the perks of hybrid working. 

Accounting firms, therefore, need to evaluate their benefits package, work culture, training programmes and more to capture trainee accountants and veteran specialists alike post-pandemic. 

But there’s something else that you need to think about, not just in the post-pandemic world, but in the 21st century: your digital voice. 

What a digital voice is and why it's important in recruitment

Your digital voice, or your online presence, refers to the information someone can find out about your firm when they search for you online. It also represents and highlights your organisation’s ambitions. In other words, your digital voice is all about the messages your brand is putting across online. 

From your website to social media, you’ll be in control of most of what appears on the first page of any google search about you – and google you, candidates will, so it’s essential that you have a digital presence. 

If not, and you’re nowhere to be found online, then you can expect more than half of job seekers to pass you over entirely (at least, according to one LinkedIn study). Meanwhile, 52% of UK millennials from 107 companies said in a survey that looking on Google had yielded them the best results in job searches, while separate research found that 40% of job seekers in accounting and finance use social media in their hunt. That says a lot about the importance of having a digital voice to capture the attention of talent.

And let's not forget the changing face of how many office employees now perform their jobs. With working from home now securely in the mainstream, more talent than ever before is available to you, as any skilled individual can work with you remotely, regardless of exactly where they are. 

But how are you going to reach these people? Of course, you could travel to them and attend a local networking event (which still is and will always remain an essential recruitment tool), but it’s far easier and cheaper to reach them online – and they’ll probably be looking for you online, too.

How to build an effective digital voice

However, it’s not enough to simply be online — candidates, like clients, will judge you and your brand based on what they see and read on your website and social media. If your tone of voice and messaging doesn’t resonate with them, they might prefer to pursue a career with someone else. Therefore, you need to hone your digital voice to attract the talent you’re looking for. 

Without wanting to oversimplify things, we need to start with the basics – your online communication needs to be grammatically correct, read well and connect with your audience. After all, poorly written job adverts alone reduce application numbers by 52%, according to StandOut CV.

The trick is to always write content with your audience – not yourself – in mind. There’s a misconception that to have a great digital voice, you need to use grandiose language and long sentences to demonstrate your expertise. More often than not, though, that can just complicate your message and alienate candidates. 

So, get used to writing for the audience you want to attract, be they fresh-faced graduates, parents looking to return to the industry or VAT veterans. Use the language they use to connect with them (and jokes, if you want) to make yourself understood. Or short sentences.

Punctuation can communicate a complex idea extremely well; ensure you use it correctly, though. And make sure to be consistent in your writing; your digital voice should be the same across all platforms – including job advertisement boards like Indeed – if you want it to convince people that your firm is serious business. 

But what should you write? A website page dedicated to careers is a great place to start, as you can use it to explain in detail exactly why you’re a great firm to work for. Sprinkle in some employee reviews and testimonials, and you’re golden. You should focus on your ‘about’ page, too, taking the opportunity to explain in detail who you are, how you work and what your ambitions are – many people want to work with a firm that they feel represents them in some way. 

Don’t shy away from blogs about how it is to work with your firm, either, as this type of content would be great to post on social media, which is exactly where the most ambitious candidates will be. General articles about industry trends are useful, too, as they demonstrate that your firm is committed to staying up-to-date with movements in the sector.

The importance of the digital world and being connected online isn’t going away any time soon in the accounting profession. It’s probably only going to become even more important. So, don’t delay any longer and take a serious look at the way your digital voice could be unnecessarily hurting your recruitment efforts. Remember: candidates are human, so focus on creating a human digital voice.

Need help with your external digital communication and branding? At PracticeWEB we have a way with words and corporate storytelling that speaks to your chosen audience. Get in touch to find out what your firm can do with us on your side. 

 

Replies (1)

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By Hugo Fair
17th Apr 2023 13:43

Glad to see the appearance of:
"The trick is to always write content with your audience – not yourself – in mind"
... which has always been the *only* golden rule in all forms of communicative marketing.

But there's really no justification for the proliferation of so much 'echo-chamber style' statistics - all of which rather obviously falls into the Mandy Rice-Davies cannon:

"If you’re nowhere to be found online, then you can expect more than half of job seekers to pass you over entirely" - LinkedIn; or
"poorly written job adverts alone reduce application numbers by 52%" - StandOut CV.

Undoubtedly (if broadly) both true, but not exactly unbiased sources!

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