How to attract talent to your accounting practice

In today’s job market, accounting firms seeking top talent have to be proactive.

By Zilla Efrat

With the accounting sector facing an ongoing skills shortage, small- to medium-sized practices (SMPs) need to shift gears to ensure they attract and retain the next generation of practitioners.

New entrants to SMP practices include young entrepreneurs and those fleeing the corporate sector to set up their own businesses.

Tanya Titman FCPA, founder and managing director of Brisbane-based firm Consolid8, says “a greater number of females are starting up practices as well those in the under-30 age bracket”.

Peter Docherty, general manager of public practice at CPA Australia, notes the new generation includes managers and senior managers leaving firms of all sizes.

“They have identified that those firms aren’t meeting clients’ needs and they often don’t feel they have been empowered to unlock their growth potential,” Docherty says.

He adds the group does not find traditional compliance services attractive and is looking for opportunities to provide more client-driven solutions and broader business advisory services.

“They really want to be seen to be adding value and providing guidance to help clients grow their businesses or personal wealth.”

The accounting practice rules of attraction

Recruitment firm Robert Half director Nicole Gorton says this can be quite challenging, given SMPs are competing against larger organisations with more resources.

“However, there are a few key tactics SMPs can use to recruit top talent, including highlighting the benefits of working for a SMP and developing prominent brand awareness so the company is known as an attractive place to work,” she explains.

Gorton warns that because of the growing skills shortage, employers need to act fast to secure the best people.

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“This means reducing the recruitment time frame by streamlining internal processes, such as making sure all HR and budgetary requirements are approved for the role and all internal stakeholders agree on job requirements.”

In addition to direct approaches from potential candidates, Titman says many of her new recruits derive from LinkedIn, general networking and word-of-mouth.

“We’ve moved away from using recruiters [because] we have much greater success finding great people and retaining them when we do the leg work ourselves,” she says.

“We also use Seek and tools such as Outfound, which helps to filter and rank applications.”

However, Titman says that to attract the right candidates, it’s important to pay careful attention to the ad you post.

“It is essentially a sales pitch,” she says. “In among all the job ads, yours needs to stand out.”

“Look at what other people are offering and get some ideas on how to frame the ad. Use corporate branding to stand out and pitch the benefits you are offering potential candidates.”

Seek also provides the opportunity to “ping” candidates that might be a good match.

“It’s a great function to bring your job offer to the attention of those who may have posted their resume some time ago but are not actively looking.”

According to Docherty, be aware that in interviews candidates are actually interviewing you, not the other way around.

“They have become a lot more selective about who they work for and want to see an alignment,” he says.

Read next: Staff retention: small accounting practices have scale on their side

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