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Need Help? 3 Simple Steps to Find CPA Talent

Hiring“I just cannot decide which one of these tax manager candidates to hire”…

Says the rare CPA firm these days.

It is no surprise to CPAs in tax practice that finding and keeping talented staff is no easy task. Gone are the days of a waiting area filled with navy suits, briefcases, and overly qualified CPAs, each praying he or she will be the one chosen for the position. I imagine, instead, a desperate employer fumbling through Internet job sites, which serve as a digital wall too tall and wide to see around, with talented people all over the world on the other side, yet often seemingly unreachable to the employer.

Each new year brings with it new technologies, work styles, staff attitudes and ambitions, and the need for CPA firms to keep up lest they be stuck behind that wall (unable to find the talent they need to prosper and grow their business). Not convinced, check out this visual representation. I believe the right people are out there and it is just a matter of developing a strong strategy for finding them, bringing them into the fold, and ensuring they stay.

Here are some steps to find that “needle in a haystack” employee that your team needs.

Step 1 – Identify Who You Need

The first step is to clearly identify the person you need to hire. If Mary retires and she primarily prepared individual returns, don’t assume that her replacement needs to do the same. Take a look around at your existing team and determine if it makes sense to shift some roles or create a new one. Consider such things as the type of work you want him or her to perform, how much experience is required, what specific set of skills is needed to be successful in the role, how many hours a week you need him or her to work, what personality type would be a good match for your existing team, and whether or not he or she must be present in the office to perform the job.

Step 2 – Effectively Advertise the Position

Once you have an idea of the person you need, brainstorm where you will find them. Design your job description so the words jump off the page and speak to that person. Post the ad where the candidates are most likely going to see it. And don’t put all of your eggs in one basket; diversify your efforts to expand your reach.

Internet-based job sites are clear options, but don’t limit yourself. I am a huge proponent of technology, so use as many channels as possible in the digital world. However, do not dismiss your personal and professional network. Reach out to fellow CPAs, friends, family, neighbors and other professionals you regularly interact with such as bankers and attorneys, and let them know you are hiring. It may very well be that one of those conversations will lead you to that perfect new hire.

Step 3 – Develop a Strategy to Interview, Screen and Retain In Advance

The process does not stop here – far from it. Getting to the right candidates is critical, but so is making sure that employees stick around once they are hired. Having a plan to find staff without a plan on how to interview them, screen them, train them, and develop them is a plan to fail. Industry consultant Jennifer Wilson shares additional tips in her piece, Time to Recruit Talent.

Get Started Today

So during these final few months of the year as you are putting away the last of the extended returns, spend some time developing a hiring strategy for your firm. Even if you are not in hiring mode this very minute, you want a plan in place when the need arises.

If you are not sure where to start, I have good news and bad news. A simple internet search for “hiring strategy” will return a ton of great material, which is the bad news. Busy professionals don’t have the luxury of being able to spend days searching for the right content. The good news is that the AICPA has done a lot of the work for you and has resources available to get you started. Tax Section members may listen anytime to the Hiring Considerations for Tax Professionals Webcast Archive. Private Companies Practice Section (PCPS) members should login and read Culture Questions: Are They Part of Your Interview Process?The PCPS has many staffing resources available to members and these alone substantiate the $35 annual cost to join.

Everyone should take a look at the articles below for some great information, and happy hiring!

Cari Weston, CPA, CGMA, Director-Taxation, American Institute of CPAs.

Hiring sign courtesy of Shutterstock.


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