Firms and employers are having an especially difficult time hiring accountants. In the AICPA's 2017 PCPS CPA Firm Top Issues survey, small firms with employees named "finding qualified staff" as their No. 1 concern.
The high demand for accounting talent can be closely tied to continued growth of the economy. Job growth for accountants and auditors between 2016 and 2026 is predicted to be 10%, which is faster than the projected national average of 7% for all occupations.
While there's no silver-bullet solution for alleviating the frustrations being felt by CPA firms and organizations seeking to hire accounting talent, one way to begin is by improving the candidate experience across the recruitment process — starting with the job interview.
In short, the candidate experience can be defined as the attitude and behaviors aspiring candidates have about the recruiting process, including the stakeholders involved, the positions they're applying for, and the organizations they're applying to. The role the candidate experience plays within the recruiting process is monumental. It affects your ability to attract talent and influences your organization's brand and its bottom line.
To deliver a compelling candidate experience throughout the interview process, you must first take into full account the high level of sophistication this candidate pool has. Know what's important to them and be prepared to proactively address — and even advocate for — what they want.
For example, privately held companies may want to give candidates an accurate impression of the company's overall stability and viability in the market. CPA firms might want to address what the average partner track timeline looks like (for local and small regional firms, reference recent partner promotions). You'll also want to hit on billable-hour averages and community involvement.
Let's drill down into the phases of the interview process and ideas for improving the candidate experience in each one:
Making an emotional connection by involving the team in the interview process will allow the candidate to understand the office dynamics, while also instilling trust (this is even more critical when conducting video interviews for a virtual office environment). Showcase your organization's culture and benefits, highlighting any unique perks, and setting real expectations (in a recent LinkedIn survey, 44% of professionals said benefits like health coverage and paid time off would likely keep them at their current company for more than five years). Honesty is also key; the worst thing you can do to a candidate is not tell them something they should know.
It’s no secret – companies large and small are understaffed in the world of accounting, and management is growing increasingly frustrated. With demand for accounting jobs significantly outpacing supply of qualified candidates, market participants seeking to hire accounting talent often become reactionary and focus on immediate need rather than applying foresight.
While each situation is different, the daily grind often interferes with an employer’s intention to hire and retain top-flight accounting talent. Oftentimes we’re scrambling to plug holes in a boat we’re navigating with only one paddle, when we should instead endeavor to amass the complete toolset needed for smoother sailing.
Let’s take a look at several areas of focus that will help with retention, employee engagement and – ultimately – less hiring.
Culture Is Intentional
An organization’s ability (or inability) to hire begins with culture and employee engagement. While a 2015 Gallup study reported only 32 percent of employees are engaged, it found that 59 percent of those engaged employees are less likely to look for a job in the next 12 months. Creating a culture of strength, trust and “stickiness” matters most to employees. Ultimately, this comes down to relationships. There is a strong positive correlation between how you treat your employees and how your employees in turn serve your customers, directly or indirectly. The bottom line is that your customers will be treated in a manner similar to how you treat your employees. Thus, the essence of The Golden Rule as applied to your employees will pay off in spades in favor of your customers or clients.
Have A Clear Vision
Another key component of culture is having a vision and educating employees on the “why” factor. Understanding the “why” can be transcendental to an employee’s sense of purpose and give meaning to what might otherwise be considered rote daily tasks of a given job. When company vision is widely communicated and thoroughly permeates the essence of a given organization, the natural result is a team of employees who understand their value and roles.
Always Be Learning
Once employers embrace employee growth and retention as a key component of their culture, their hiring paradigm shifts to one of optimization rather than backfilling.
According to LinkedIn’s 2018 Workforce Learning Report, 94 percent of employees would stay at a company longer if it invested in their careers, and 68 percent of employees prefer to learn while at work. When you create an evolving continuing education culture, you’re giving employees much more than mere employment. Finding opportunities to teach and train your employees will take intentionality and time. Something as simple as paying for their enrollment in an online course may have profound effects on an employee’s ability to grow professionally and develop potentially life-changing industry expertise.
Another opportunity could be to cross-train within your organization. It may be the spark an employee needs to catapult themselves and the organization to new heights. Moreover, structural or budgetary impediments to promotion from within can be overcome by cross-departmental delegation and can breathe new life into curious-minded and ambitious employees.
Take A Broader Look At Benefits
A decade ago, benefits were often a final-stage checkbox for candidates. Today, decisions are often made based on benefits offered, making them both a recruiting and retention tool. You might not be in a position to change healthcare plans or increase the 401(k) match, but I look at benefits in a much broader way.
When you are looking for a competitive advantage in recruiting or retention, consider options such as flexible work hours, additional PTO, catered lunches, working remotely, community service days, and wellness programs. If I were to focus on only one of these, flexibility is one of the key components, especially with today’s technology.
Once you have identified your differentiators, it is imperative that you re-educate your employees on those benefits to reinforce the opportunities.
People approach me often because they’ve had an employee get poached by another company. Plainly stated, your employees are being scouted, recruited, and seduced by hiring managers and recruiters from time to time; other companies are prodding for what might be lacking in their careers and/or their current roles. But employers who view and treat their employees as more of an extension of the organization’s ethos will often be unscathed by these attempts and retain the very employees they’ve embraced.
Feedback? Organizational best practices to share? Let’s keep the conversation going in the comments.
Benchmark Search Founder Troy Ashby will join the 44th class of Leadership Dallas, a prominent leadership development program sponsored by the Dallas Regional Chamber (DRC). The class was chosen based on their high potential for leadership and commitment to the Dallas community.
"I am honored and excited to participate is such a prestigious program", Ashby said of his acceptance into the 2019 class. "I am passionate about the North Texas community and cannot wait to be inspired and educated with other influential leaders from such diverse backgrounds."
Founded in 1975, Leadership Dallas prepares a diverse group of leaders to serve as agents and sustainers of positive change for the quality of life in the Dallas Region. The program serves as a opportunity for individuals who are both acknowledged and aspiring leaders to continue their professional development and further cultivate a demonstrated commitment to the serving the community.
It is the goal of Leadership Dallas to:
For more information about the program, please click the link to read the DRC's press release.
The Dallas Regional Chamber recently honored Benchmark Search as it's June Member Spotlight. Recruiter Partner, Troy Ashby, serves on the DRC Experience Council and was also named Chair of the DRC’s Top Investor Stewards Program in January, which is an extension of the Member Services team.
Dallas, TX – May 30, 2018 – Benchmark Search, a Dallas-based firm specializing in direct hire recruiting, executive search, and temporary staffing for accounting and finance professionals, today announced its official launch of operations.
With more than 15 years of professional service experience, including more than a decade with one of the nation’s largest recruiting firms, Founder & President Troy Ashby established Benchmark Search on the bedrock belief that exceptional people, progressive culture, and an unrelenting devotion to serving clients and candidates is the formula for developing deep and transformational relationships.
“At Benchmark Search, we strive to be viewed by clients as their human capital trusted advisor,” said Ashby. “Not only do we have the technical expertise required to deliver excellence, our team remains current on changing economic indicators to help clients make the most informed decisions.”
Benchmark Search has a meaningful, deliberate, and collaborative approach to community involvement. Members of the Firm routinely devote significant time and resources to causes and activities that make a positive impact across Dallas/Fort Worth. In addition, the Firm currently supports two Community Partners – March of Dimes and Richardson Family YMCA. Ashby was recently appointed chairman for the Richardson Y’s 2019 annual fundraising campaign.
Ashby is a Certified Public Accountant and received his Bachelor’s Degree in Accounting and Master’s Degree in Accounting Information Systems from Oklahoma State University. He previously worked in public accounting at Ernst & Young, Arthur Andersen and Whitley Penn. Ashby serves as 2018 Chair of the Dallas Regional Chamber’s Top Investor Stewards Program.
About Benchmark Search
Benchmark Search specializes in direct hire recruiting, executive search, and temporary staffing for accounting and finance professionals. The firm is predicated on the bedrock belief that exceptional people + progressive culture + unrelenting devotion to serving our clients and candidates is the formula for success. The team believes in developing long-term, trusted relationships with its clients and candidates to help companies and careers advance and thrive. For more information, visit benchmarksearchgroup.com.
Troy Ashby Named Chair of Dallas Regional Chamber's Top Investor Stewards Program
Dallas, TX (February 14, 2018) – Benchmark Search Group’s President, Troy Ashby, was recently named Chair of the Dallas Regional Chamber’s (DRC) Top Investor Stewards Program.
Top Investor Stewards are an extension of the Dallas Regional Chamber Member Services team, and actively participate in educating members of the benefits of membership through regular outreach to an assigned group of members.
“I am passionate about what the Dallas Regional Chamber achieves for the region and the benefits it provides to its members and the business community. As a member of the Top Investor Stewards Program, I have been able to assist company executives and key contacts maximize the DRC resources. I am proud to serve with other dynamic business leaders and honored to lead this elite group,” stated Ashby.
Ashby is a Certified Public Accountant and received a Bachelor of Science in Accounting and a Master of Science in Accounting Information Systems from Oklahoma State University. He is on the Richardson Family YMCA Board of Managers, a March for Babies team leader, on the Audit and Finance Committee for The Family Place, a Genesis HeROs member, was the 2014 Chair of the Dallas Regional Chamber Young Professionals, and was the Oklahoma State University Alumni Association’s North Texas Chapter President in 2008-2009.
About the Dallas Regional Chamber
The Dallas Regional Chamber is the voice of business and the champion of economic development and growth in the Dallas Region. We work with our 1,200 member companies and regional partners to strengthen our business community by advocating for pro-growth public policies, improving our educational system, attracting talented workers from around the world, and enhancing the quality of life for all. Our goal is to make Dallas the best place in America to live, work, and do business.
About Benchmark Search
Benchmark Search Group specializes in direct hire recruiting, executive search, and temporary staffing for accounting and finance professionals. Our firm is predicated on the bedrock belief that exceptional people + progressive culture + unrelenting devotion to serving our clients and candidates is the formula for success. We believe in developing long-term, trusting relationships with our clients and candidates to help companies and careers advance and thrive. For more information on Benchmark Search, please visit www.benchmarksearchgroup.com.
100 North Central Expy, Ste 500
Richardson, TX 75080
Benchmark Search Group was founded by a CPA with prior experience in Big 4 public accounting, executive search, and a leader for one of the largest finance and accounting staffing firms in the United States.
With more than 30 years of recruiting and professional services experience, our firm was created with a focus on quality first and making a positive impact for our clients, candidates, and the Dallas - Fort Worth communities.
As a trusted advisor, we believe in establishing and continuing genuine relationships which empowers professionals to further their careers. Our commitment to excellence and integrity, combined with resilience allows our clients to focus on their business while we provide them with highly skilled employees.
Benchmark Search Group specializes in direct hire recruiting, executive search, and temporary staffing for accounting and finance professionals.