Overcoming the Staff Crisis—Part 1

RZ recruitingservices headerWe know that three things are certain in life—taxes, death, and turnover in public accounting.

With the economy in full swing and unemployment rates declining rapidly, together with Baby Boomers retiring every second, there are many more opportunities for staff to leave public accounting for corporate jobs than in the past five years.

This boom in job opportunities both in public and private has given birth to an increasingly competitive hiring environment for quality accountants. Moreover, it has given accountants more choices for career and employment opportunities. Additionally, the recruiting landscape moves at warp speed with on-line recruiting methods. This means that a lot of time tested recruiting techniques for public accounting firms are obsolete, especially waiting for staff to leave and then recruit to replace them, If we know that turnover is inevitable, and staff is needed for growth and succession planning, than why not develop a pipeline of quality candidates to recruit in the future?

The pipeline approach to recruiting success is similar to marketing and lead generation programs for new clients—establish contacts and develop relationships over time and create a pipeline of prospects to develop relationships with. The best way to recruit quality candidates is to empathize with their career challenges and prove over time that your firm can resolve those challenges and provide career opportunities to the highest levels. Firms don’t wait for clients to leave before marketing and developing relationships with new prospects. Relationship Based Recruiting is a strategy that involves capturing the ideal accountants for your firm and continually engaging them until (or before) the right position is available by creating a pool of candidates who are a good match for the firm for eventual potential hiring.

By developing relationships with candidates, you’re creating a built in screening process, which improves the odds that the new hire will be the right one. It also communicates to the candidate that the firm has a genuine need and drive to hire the candidate as a growth and succession strategy, not a transactional hire due to a particular staff termination. The following is an example of a Relationship Based Recruiting approach:

  1. Select and train a search coordinator—this can be an HR or Marketing coordinator or an administrative staff person who will conduct the searches through web based recruiting sites, social media, contacts with firm alumni and current staff and referral sources.
  2. CRM—enter all relevant information into a CRM or recruitment software to track all meetings and communications and to organize the candidate pool.
  3. Career Section of Your Website—you should have a comprehensive and contemporary career section on your website, together with a PDF recruiting brochure and videos.
  4. Contact—make contact with candidates on an ongoing and continuous basis through LinkedIn, emails, social media, phone calls, invites to social gatherings, etc.
  5. Relationship Manager—choose partners or managers to meet with the candidates and establish a professional relationship. Over time the candidates should meet with selective group of partners and staff.
  6. Close—move the relationship to a point where it makes sense for both parties to agree when employment should take place.

In the next 10 years and beyond, the ability to attract and hire quality, experienced staff will be the most significant factor for a firm’s competitive success and establishing succession plans. It’s not enough to rely on recruiters to attract quality candidates to your firm. You need to develop innovative approaches to recruiting experienced staff similar to target marketing campaigns for new clients.