Traditionally, public accounting firms focused all their recruiting activities around the “fall season.” Students were fresh.. back on campus… and their professors had prepared them for the beauty contest of the very active fall season.
I talk to many firms that still operate this way. I also talk to many firms who are just finishing-up the “spring season.” It involves just as much work and intensity from firm HR professionals, firm administrators and partners as the fall campaign.
If you are not hiring summer interns – wake-up. If you are not identifying and getting to know the students you will be talking to in the fall – wake-up. If you think that being visible on campus just in the fall is enough – wake-up.
Accounting majors at prominent universities don’t know much (if anything) about local and regional accounting firms. Read more about why and how four students were surprised to learn that they could have the resources and support they thought was only available at the national firms at a local/regional firm.
Just a few years ago (including at my former firm) we did not hire summer interns because we didn’t have anything for them to do. Now, you must find something for them to do to keep them in your hiring pipeline. Some of the best students need a summer job!
Find projects where they can help. Let them shadow the summer auditors – there is always some repetitive work they can help with on an audit. They can also shadow in the tax area – have your tax team become your tax teaching team in the summer by establishing mini seminars on tax research, state & local tax, etc.
Craft your sales pitch. Even if you think your firm’s value proposition is obvious, dig deeper. Think hard about what a twenty-something is going to get out of 8 to 10 weeks of working side by side with your experienced, knowledgeable people.
What will your intern walk away with? What skills and insights will he/she learn on the job that will shape their career path, strengthen their network or help them decide once and for all that accounting is the way to go long term (and that your firm is flexible, fun, cool and prestigious).
I have been talking and writing about the need to keep women in public accounting for years (and years).
It is once again in the spotlight mostly because of Sheryl Sandberg’s book, Lean In. Because of her high profile, success in the business world and I guess you could say her clout – people pay attention. They read her book. They like it or they hate it. They criticize or applaud via social media. Once the hoopla dies down, life will go on, especially inside CPA firms.
What matters to me most about women’s initiatives in public accounting is the fact that while there is a need, there is also a need for retaining young men in public accounting.
If you are not familiar with The Shriver Report, take a few minutes and read the executive summary. The report describes how a woman’s nation changes everything about how we live and work today. For the first time in our nation’s history, women are half of all U.S. workers and mothers are the primary breadwinners or co-breadwinners in nearly two-thirds of American families. This is a dramatic shift from just a generation ago. The Shriver Report is not just a woman’s story.
In today’s families, both parents work. Both need flexibility because they are raising their families and taking care of households as a team.
I think it can be described best by what a female CPA said to me during one of my presentations, “When we have a sick child, we flip a coin to see who stays home.”
In the “old days” men did the yard work, took care of the car, coached the little league team and did handyman duties around the home. Women shopped, cooked, cleaned, did laundry and, if they worked outside the home, they stayed home when a child was sick.
Dads are so much more involved on the home front these days. So, don’t forget that male CPAs also need flexibility while they are building their careers in public accounting. I would like you to establish a flexibility initiative, a family initiative or simply a “life” initiative to support your team members, both married and single, who have other priorities outside of the office.
I love this Tide commercial. While you might think this is a stay-at-home Dad, I like to think that he does the laundry and is also a CPA with a full-time job outside the home.
It is easier for a father to have children than for children to have a real father.
Here’s a competition that the Ohio Society is conducting. If you are in Ohio, I hope you share it with your interns or prospective college hires.
If you are not in Ohio (or even if you are), why couldn’t your CPA firm do something like this for students at your key recruiting schools?
Here’s how OSCPA is conducting their competition:
Today’s students are busier than ever, as many college students juggle part time jobs, campus activities and community service commitments in addition to full course loads. The Ohio Society of CPAs (OSCPA) is offering accounting students a chance to express their interests beyond preparing to become a CPA. Beginning April 1, students can enter OSCPA’s “Me in a Moment” video contest.
“OSCPA loves learning about and supporting our future CPAs,” said Karen West, CAE, vice president, academic & career awareness. “We hope “Me in a Moment” will show just how well-rounded accounting students are.”
To enter, students should create a video beginning with the phrase “I can’t wait to be a CPA! But when I’m not studying you can find me…” The videos that most creatively demonstrate students’ passion outside of the classroom will be posted on the Ohio YCPA Facebook page.
Videos must be under 30 seconds and submitted by May 1 to Rebecca Hixen email@example.com. From May 1- 15th videos will be judged based on the amount of Facebook “likes,” creativity and originality. Three winners will be announced in May and will receive a free Becker CPA Review course and a $50 Visa gift card valued at $3,315.
Attracting the most talented accounting graduates is critical to your firm’s success. How do the accounting students at your local universities view your firm? Do they even know about your firm? On many campuses all the accounting students know aboutis the big four!
Only a few find the way, some don't recognize it when they do - some... don't ever want to.
The inaugural National Meet The Firms Week in October 2012 connected 200 accounting firms and 2,500 students across the country and offered insightful webinars to accounting students on such topics as the CPA exam and unique accounting career paths.
This spring it is expected that hundreds of additional accounting firms and companies nationwide will participate. The goal is to reach 10,000 students participating this spring.
I am thrilled to once again be part of Meet The Firms Week. You can see the full week’s agenda here. I’ll be facilitating the Accounting Career Paths Roundtable on March 25th at 2pm eastern.
I hope you’ll encourage your interns to utilize the sessions during that week and also pass it along to your local accounting professors to share.
When I'm hiring a cook for one of my restaurants and I want to see what they can do, I usually ask them to make me an omelette.
Inside CPA firms, we have many generations of people (and work styles) working together to serve clients. The variety of work styles might cause friction at times. My advice is to be understanding of what makes different people more productive and comfortable while getting the work completed in a timely and complete manner.
Some firms are proud of the fact that they can offer every accountant a private office. Some firms are proud of the fact that they offer open seating and the ability for easy collaboration. Some firms have redesigned office space so that cubicles are on the outside with window access and the offices are on the interior walls with glass doors and fronts to enable the daylight to reach them. Many firms have remained with the traditional set-up – partners and managers’ offices on the outside with windows and cubes taking up the interior.
When I walked into my first CPA firm many years ago, it was a culture of absolutely no radios and no excessive talking. I would describe it as quiet and contemplative. On a summer afternoon it was very difficult not to doze off!
I’ll weigh-in: I think earbuds are great – they give you some privacy when there really isn’t any. It is easy for those who love to work listening to music to do so and those who don’t to do the same.
I found the TV comment interesting. Many firms now do have TVs in the lobby (tuned to the financial stations) and even in each individual partner office. Personally, I love the lobby TV and do not like the personal partner TV idea.
A final comment, in most offices people want their computer monitor with its back to the door so passers-by and visitors can’t see it. They are adamant about it. It always makes me wonder what they are really looking at on that screen.
Those who dance are considered insane by those who cannot hear the music.
It’s mid-February. At your busy accounting firm, your interns have been working diligently for about 6 weeks now. How’s it going for them?
First of all, you have to ask them. If you are a firm leader (that means you are responsible for others…. managing partner, any partner, manager, firm administrator, HR director, etc.), I hope you are touching base with them almost every day. Use two simple questions: How’s it going? Anything you need from me?
Is it time to take them to lunch as a group? From my experience, taking the interns to lunch was one of the most enjoyable aspects of my role as a leader. I was always impressed how knowledgeable they were about world events and the business world, in general. They usually knew more about current business trends than CPA firm partners with many years experience.
I also found most of them to be very good conversationalists and great dining partners. Use the time to share some of the things firm management is planning for the rest of the year. Encourage them to ask you questions.
Another valuable thing you might learn….. in six weeks time they have all the partners (and managers) pegged. That means they can tell you each one’s idiosyncrasies and probably can do impressions of them that will make you smile…. well, they will make you laugh out loud.
Send that email today – inviting the interns to join you for lunch. And, splurge – take them to the City Club, Country Club – someplace nice. Make it special.
A single conversation across the table with a wise man is better than ten years mere study of books.
Remember quite a few years ago when almost every mini-van had a yellow suction-cup sign hanging in the window that said “Baby On Board”?
Parents were telling the world to be careful, be watchful, I have precious cargo inside this van. They are special, young people and we (parents) are going to take very good care of them.
Those babies have grown-up. We call them Millennials. You have been reading about them and hearing about their work style for years and you probably have lots of them inside your CPA firm.
Can you believe that the oldest Millennials are in their early 30s now?
You might have varying reactions to having these “babies” inside your firm. But, for the most part, they really are special cargo. They are your future and they are waiting on an opportunity to contribute.
Multiple studies and probably way too many experts keep telling us what the younger generation of worker wants, needs, prefers and so on. Are you listening, reading and taking action on any of this valuable information?
Inside many CPA firms it still seems like owners maintain an “exclusive” attitude and culture. The below 40 crowd want to be included and I encourage owners to begin cultivating a more “inclusive” approach to firm management.
The competition for top talent is definitely heating up and there is no end in sight. It’s time to take special care of your precious cargo. It’s time to get Staff On Board.
If growing up means it would be beneath my dignity to climb a tree, I'll never grow up, never grow up, never grow up! Not me!
It was an informative and thought-provoking day yesterday at the AICPA PCPS HR Forum and Networking Group.
What’s on the minds of HR professionals working inside CPA firms? Here’s a list:
Moving people up – non-equity
“Parking” People in the Principal Role
Keeping people who need to go
Building trust inside the firm
Does this list trigger some thoughts about your firm? I hope your HR professional is here!
Recently I was asked if I was going to fire an employee who made a mistake that cost the company $600,000. No, I replied, I just spent $600,000 training him. Why would I want somebody to hire his experience?
Mentoring happens naturally inside a CPA firm. More experienced accountants teaching, guiding and educating less experienced accountants.
How much experience do you need? If you have worked in public accounting for one year, you can help others! That’s why so many CPA firm mentoring programs usually contain a “buddy” program. Someone who is closer to the day-to-day work is paired with a new hire to help them “learn the ropes.” It’s more hands-on type guidance (how to use the software, how to act at the client’s office, how to respond to review notes, etc.). It is still a mentoring role – you are reaching down and pulling someone up.
Think about it. If you have one to two years of experience I bet you have a lot of very practical advice to share with someone right out of college or someone coming in from another firm – real-life and often eye-opening experiences.