The model on which accountancy practices run is changing, and so must the way they recruit.
Today’s millennial generation are the kind that embrace technology, value workplace culture and thrive in customer facing roles.
So, in order to recruit the top performers, you need to adapt to these changes and proactively change the way that you recruit.
Here is a 3-step process for recruiting top performers in a 21st century accountancy practice:
1. Focus on you first
A big part of recruiting the right people is ensuring there is a fit culturally between your practice and the person you hire (see point 3 below).
Yet one of the mistakes practices make when hiring new recruits, is not really understanding what their culture is.
What are the values, beliefs and objectives of your practice that you will be looking for in a new recruit?
What is different about your practice that makes you better than anybody else?
Before you focus on finding new people, you need to focus on you first.
Make sure that all of your systems and processes are up to scratch so that when your new recruits join, they feel like their joining a modern 21st century practice, not an outdated one.
Spend time figuring out what makes you different and what benefits you offer that other accountancy practices might not.
Create a desirable culture that motivates and rewards its employees. (Check out this article with 9 tips for increasing staff retention and creating a desirable practice to work on).
Only once you’ve got this bit right, can you start attracting and hiring these top performers!
2. Recruit creatively
If you’re looking for extra-special people to join your team, then you need an extra-special recruitment process to find them.
Don’t just list all the competencies you’re looking for in a job advert, write the ad directly to the ideal candidate you’re looking for, talk about all the great benefits your practice offers and what makes you stand out from the competition.
You could also consider recording a video of yourself and other people in your practice discussing the opportunity and all the great benefits that come with it.
In terms of the applications, you could ask candidates to just send a CV, or maybe you can ask them to leave a voice message answering some key questions, or maybe send in a video of themselves answering a few questions. The latter 2 options will separate the go-getters from the tyre-kickers.
The key to getting this right is to choose something that is in-line with your culture.
For example, there’s no point using video if your practice culture is very quiet and introverted. It will come across unauthentic to the people watching it.
Once you’ve created your advert, you need to get it out there.
Think beyond job sites and recruitment consultants, these do work but they’re often costly.
- Reach out to people in your network
- Ask your team to reach out to people in their network
- Share on social media channels (and your team’s social media accounts)
- Incentivise your team so that if they recommend the person that gets hired they receive £X
- Speak to universities about their top-performing students if you’re hiring for graduates
- Use industry media sources e.g. AccountingWeb where potential employees might hang out
The wider the net, the greater the chance you have of catching something.
3. Hire Slow
It sounds very cliché, but ‘hire slow’ is the best advice any business can be given.
Often, it’s easy to receive a handful of applications, and hire one just because you desperately need the position filling.
And whilst this may provide you with a short-term fix, most of the time this doesn’t work out down the line.
When you’re hiring you need to be looking specifically for 2 things:
- A skill fit,
- A culture fit.
For the skill fit you can use carefully chosen questions about the key competencies you’re looking for or even better give them tests or example trial tasks to do so that they can demonstrate their ability.
The cultural fit is where most practices fall down in the recruitment process, and it’s actually the more important of the two.
If they can do the work, but they don’t fit in culturally then they probably aren’t going to be highly satisfied with their job and it may cause friction with other members of the team.
Consider having the applicant spend some time with your team where they can ask them questions, but more importantly your team can ask questions and determine whether they think there is a fit culturally. This can just be positioned as an informal chat.
Once you’ve determined that there is both a skill and culture fit, only then should the job be offered to the applicant.
Develop your people strategy
In the next few years, people will be the differentiator from one practice to another.
Most practices will be leveraging the cloud, and most practices will be transitioning towards more high-impact services, so good people and superior customer service will be key.
It’s therefore crucial that you spend time focusing on and developing your people strategy so that you recruit top performers, and build the best team that you possibly can.
What other tips do you have for successfully recruiting top performers for a 21st century practice? Let me know below…