The accounting profession is in the midst of a major recruitment crisis…
Well, at least that’s what some practice owners are telling me:
- “There’re just no good-quality candidates in my area”
- “Recruitment agencies keep sending us rubbish candidates”
- “We can never find anybody who is the right fit for us”
I’m not disputing whether recruitment is a challenge for you right now, or not. But what I can say is that there are some practice owners out there for whom this recruitment crisis does not exist.
They’re recruiting the same types of people, for the same types of roles, in the same geographic areas as everybody else – and yet, for the most part, they have a pipeline full of high-quality applicants all year round.
So, how is this the case?
“But Rudi – marketing is for finding new clients, what’s it got to do with recruitment”
Well it actually has A LOT to do with recruitment…
You see a few weeks ago I was fortunate enough to host a panel discussion as part of the Progressive Practice Summit with 4 forward-thinking practice founders from the UK.
And within the first 10 minutes of our discussion one thing became apparent – none of them struggled with recruitment because they were actively marketing for new clients AND new team members.
(Want a copy of this recording along with 17+ hours of expert training sessions from speakers including Steve Pipe, Amanda C. Watts and James Ashford? Head to www.progressivepracticesummit.com/all-access-pass)
So, what were they doing? And how can you implement this to attract some new high-quality team members in to your accountancy practice?
1. Start by understanding who you are as a firm
I know it sounds a bit ‘fluffy’ but bear with me…
One of the panellists in the call, Nikki Adams from AdValorem, made a great point:
“It’s difficult to attract new team members if you haven’t figured out who you are and where you are going as a firm”
So, how do you do this?
Sit down with your team and establish a clear vision and plan for your firm.
What is your long-term goal? What is your vision? What are your beliefs as a firm? What do you value? What are your absolute non-negotiables? What is your culture like? There’s no right or wrong way to do it, but it will affect who and how you recruit.
Once you’re clear on this, then finding people who will fit the mould will become much easier
But until your clear on what that mould might looks like – how are you supposed to know whether people will fit in or not?
2. Identify your ideal team member persona
Just like in marketing you identify what your ideal client persona looks like – you need to identify what your ideal team member persona looks like.
This isn’t a list of all the necessary skills. Yes, skills are important, but with the right person they can be easily trained.
You need to be thinking in terms of personality traits and attitude (you might even want to consider how they fit in terms of psychometric profiles – it’s important to have a balance throughout your team)
Here are some tips for doing that…
One of the panellists, Sharon Pocock from Kinder Pocock, shared how her team had recently filled out an entire whiteboard describing what their next ideal team member might look like. They filled in every little detail that they could think of, and very little of it was to do with their skills.
A not too different approach I always take is to brainstorm at least 20 personality traits of the person I want to recruit – then pick the top 3 – and these 3 things become your absolute non-negotiables in the recruitment process.
Whatever personality traits you choose, make sure that your ideal team member persona also fits into who you are as a firm (which is what you did in the previous step).
3. Start marketing to them
“You wouldn’t wait until you desperately needed one more client to start marketing, so why do the same when recruiting new team members”
The above was a great point made by Paul Barnes from MAP in Manchester.
You need to be actively marketing for new team members all year round. Waiting until the last second isn’t always the best strategy as you may be willing to take on anyone and everyone to help you when the work starts piling up.
I appreciate smaller firms might not have this luxury when they’re busy fighting to find stability. Do what you can and remember that you team are one of the biggest investments you can make.
So how do you start marketing to your ideal team members?
Well one of the things Paul did in his firm was to get 2 of his team members to sit down on the sofa and record a quick video whilst having a cuppa, chatting about everything they enjoyed about working in his firm. This was then shared on social media and the result was an inbox full of applications.
Alastair Barlow, Founder at flinder also made the point that they actively market to ideal team members in the same way that they do for ideal clients. Their Instagram account, for example, is almost 100% dedicated to marketing to team members and not clients. It features videos of them on company ski trips, playing beer pong and other video clips sharing what the culture of the team is like. None of this is to win new clients, but it ensures that when any savvy applicants do their research, if beer pong and company ski trips aren’t their thing, they know not to apply.
Get your recruitment partners on the same page
If you do choose to use a recruitment agent or partner, then you need to get them on the same page as you.
- Share who you are as a firm, what your vision is, what you value, what your beliefs are etc
- Share with them the ideal personality of the team members you want to recruit
- Share your marketing with them so they get a good understanding of your culture
And by doing this they’ll be much, much clearer about who to send you way and who not to send you way.
Is recruitment a challenge for you right now?
Despite my tongue-in-cheek intro, I know that recruitment is a real challenge for practices all over the world. In fact one of the discussions that came up a few times during the Progressive Practice Summit was one of a skills gap in some of the younger up-and-comers, in part caused by technology.
But if you are finding recruitment a challenge right now, then it might be worth following the steps outlined above.
Get clear on who you are, identify your ideal team member persona and start marketing for them.
Investing time in this right now, could end up saving you £000’s in mis-hires and mis-matches in the long run.