Archive for the ‘Recruiting’ Category

Tuesday, September 8th, 2020

Accounting Graduates

“I am convinced that nothing we do is more important than hiring and developing people. At the end of the day you bet on people, not on strategies.” – Lawrence Bossidy

There are reports that tell us that the number of accounting graduates being hired is steadily declining. Yet, many firms are still saying that they need people.

In some firms, the “need people” has come to mean they need more non-accounting graduates, such as people with more advanced technology skills.

Per Todd Shapiro, CEO of the Illinois CPA society says, in an article via Accounting today: “Hiring of accounting graduates is down 30 percent. That’s a massive decline in hiring of accounting graduates by CPA firms. This isn’t companies that traditionally haven’t hired accounting graduates that aren’t CPAs. These are accounting firms.”

I was surprised by this statement from Barry Melancon a few years ago: Today we are a profession of CPA-led firms, not CPA firms. Two-thirds of the employees in all firms are non-CPAs.

Shapiro notes that firms are hiring more non-accounting graduates. It only makes sense to me that accounting students need to be sure that they have more advanced technology skills than at any time in the past.

If you didn’t read the article by Michael Cohn (via Accounting Today), you should.

  • You can dream, create, design and build the most wonderful place in the world…but it requires people to make the dream a reality.
  • Walt Disney

Tuesday, April 21st, 2020

Establish a Scholarship for Accounting Students

“If anything is going to change in accounting education, it’s going to have to come from practitioners.” – Jason Ackerman, CPA

For the long-term, public accounting firms still need to attract top talent. I have heard all kinds of stories about some firms cutting back on hiring and even laying-off or furloughing people. Sadly, some firms admit that they have used the need to tighten their belts to get rid of poor performers.

One great way to attract talented accounting students to your firm is to sponsor a scholarship program. If your firm hasn’t established one yet, here are some tips from Jason Ackerman of BNA CPAs & Advisors in Rock Hill, South Carolina. I have admired how Jason and Bernie Ackerman continually search for ways to improve their firm since I met them many years ago at an AICPA conference.

Here’s how BNA’s scholarship program works.

To qualify as a BNA scholar, students must want to have an internship and want to become CPAs. During the fall semester, the firm will interview students who are interested; the students selected will receive an internship for the following semester, during tax season. The students will be paid like normal interns; after the internship, if both the firm and the students want to continue, they will receive additional scholarships in the amount of $10,000 per student per year to help pay for CPA exam fees, CPA exam review courses, and college as a whole. In return, the students must agree to pass the CPA exam before graduating and to work for BNA for three years postgraduation.

Read Jason’s entire article, Creating a CPA Scholarship Program, via The CPA Journal.

  • A wise man can learn more from a foolish question than a fool can learn from a wise answer.
  • Bruce Lee

Wednesday, April 1st, 2020

Interview Questions For Remote Workers

“The individual needs to be someone who can be successful with a level of independence.” – Jennifer Farris

At this point in time, almost all of us are remote workers. When we move into summer, hopefully, many of you will be returning to the office to work. Going forward, there will be a strong trend to hire remote workers.

From an article via Fast Company, former Google recruiter Jennifer Farris, who is currently the chief people officer at Terminal, a company that establishes teams of engineers for companies around the world, tells us:

“The biggest factor of being able to work remotely is if you can get work done without someone looking over your shoulder,” she says. “Sometimes a really talented worker can have a harder time adjusting to the new world of remote working arrangements. They might need extra support—someone physically close to them. It’s not for everyone.

Farris recommends some areas to thoroughly explore:

Previous Experience – Past experience is a good indicator of future behavior. It would also be helpful if they completed some of their education in a remote environment.

Communication Skills – They must be proactive in finding solutions or help. Ask them how they have done this in the past.

Also, find out how they like to be managed. What do they expect from management?

Be sure to read the entire article. It will help you ask the right questions when hiring remote workers in the future.

  • You can dream, create, design and build the most wonderful place in the world…but it requires people to make the dream a reality.
  • Walt Disney

Thursday, February 13th, 2020

Every Firm is Hiring

It is common knowledge in the profession of public accounting, every firm is hiring.

They are looking for top, young talent. It seems every firm is looking for the exact same candidates.

Here’s something from Peter F. Drucker that you should think about:

“Determine whether your organization is betting on young people, older people, or immigrants. Make sure you have a plan for the gradual decrease in the youth market and the increase in newcomers and the aged.” – Peter F. Drucker

What is your plan for the future? If you are a partner, you should be developing two talented people to replace you. That should be your number one priority. Or, your partner group needs to admit that selling-out or merging-up are on the horizon.

Either way, you must have an attractive culture and be progressive and efficient. No one wants a firm that is not thriving and growing.

  • The best way to predict the future is to create it.
  • Peter F. Drucker

Monday, January 20th, 2020

Retaining Top Talent

“It doesn’t make sense to hire smart people and then tell them what to do; we hire smart people so they can tell us what to do.” – Steve Jobs

It is very difficult to find and hire talented accountants and administrative personnel. Accounting firms have been struggling for years with this topic and it only seems to be getting more challenging. So, once you do hire a qualified person, how do you keep them?

I recently read a good article via HBR titled, Why People Quit Their Jobs.

In the CPA profession, we have heard for years that the reason people leave their jobs is the fact that they have a poor manager (boss).

Research now tells us that there is more to it than just a bad manager. Technology has enabled companies to better track reasons people leave jobs. A lot of it is personal reasons. Another interesting aspect is that large companies are tracking what employees are doing that might indicate they are unhappy with their current job like how much time they spend on LinkedIn.

It seems that comparing themselves to their peer group – both business peers and personal friends causes people to consider their current job status.

Take a few minutes to read the article, I think you will find it helpful in your quest to retain top talent.

  • Hiring the right people takes time, the right questions and a healthy dose of curiosity. What do you think is the most important factor when building your team? For us, it’s personality.
  • Richard Branson

Monday, December 9th, 2019

Attracting & Developing Top Talent

“Whatever you do in life, surround yourself with smart people who’ll argue with you.” – John Wooden

Everyone is hiring. It used to be a seasonal event for accounting firms. Now, progressive firms have adopted a plan for continuous hiring. Firms are growing and it is important to hire before you have to.

My questions for accounting firms (and some things for you to consider):

Do you have a rigorous focus on professional development? Maybe this is why there is so much worry about succession. Why not be more generous with education dollars for your younger staff. Of course, you must give them technical training but don’t forget about the “success skills” (formerly known as soft skills) if you want them to become business advisors earlier in their careers.

Have you attracted and retained the smartest people? Young people are drawn to public accounting because they appreciate being able to work with smart, successful, creative, and hard-working people. Do the majority of your people fit this description? Do you keep too many mediocre performers?

Do your young all-stars have vast opportunities? Or, do they have to wait ten years to become a manager?

Do you reward your best performers with salaries beyond being competitive? Or, do you try to get by with the minimum of just keeping pace with average firms?

  • Success is a lousy teacher. It seduces smart people into thinking they can't lose.
  • Bill Gates

Friday, December 6th, 2019

First Impressions Do Count

“A good first impression can work wonders.” – J. K. Rowling

When we think of first impressions, we naturally think about how we come across to clients, prospects and other professionals in our business network. We worry about how our firm appears to outsiders. Is our brand positive and strong?

First impressions also make a huge difference when we make a new hire. When a new employee arrives, what is their first impression? How effective is your onboarding program?

I STILL hear horror stories.

  • It is apparent to the new hire that the front desk person has no clue who they are.
  • There is a scramble to find where they will actually sit.
  • And, the one I hear most often, there is no computer available and ready for them.

Hopefully, your firm has a New Hire IT Checklist that has been completed and it is part of your Onboarding Manual.

  • I don't know if you've ever noticed this, but first impressions are often entirely wrong.
  • Lemony Snicket

Tuesday, November 26th, 2019

New Rules of Work

“Disruption requires us to think differently about work.” – Sharlyn Lauby

I’m sure you have noticed, finding, hiring, and retaining talented people has become more and more difficult. The AICPA PCPS 2019 Top Issues names Finding Qualified Staff as the top issue in every firm size category (except sole proprietors).

In the accounting profession, everyone is talking about disruption and the need to change how things have been done in the past. The work and the workforce has changed and it requires us to think differently about work.

Sharlyn Lauby (@hrbartender) has written an excellent post: The 7 New Rules of Work – Workforce Readiness In the Digital Age. I urge you to read it and share it with all the partners and HR leaders in your firm.

The rules she describes come from a keynote she heard by Polly LaBarre, author of the New York Times best-seller “Mavericks at Work: Why The Most Original Minds in Business Win.”

It is important to create rules that apply all the time and to let those rules drive company culture.

The rules are:

  1. Everyone has power
  2. Nobody is smarter than everyone
  3. All ideas are heard
  4. Challenging ideas is acceptable and encouraged
  5. Passion is the most powerful currency
  6. People design their own jobs
  7. Values rule decision-making and accountability

Please read the article. It gives good advice to managers and HR leaders about these seven rules. Staying current on trends in hiring and retaining will help you win the talent wars in the CPA profession.

  • Company values should already be the guiding principles of the organization.
  • Sharlyn Lauby

Wednesday, November 13th, 2019

Solutions Rather Than Problems

“Great vision without great people is irrelevant.”–Jim Collins

CPAs, along with all others who are hiring, are looking to hire people who bring solutions rather than problems. As amazing as it seems, CPAs tend to keep people for years who are definitely problems.

Per FAST Company, when asked nearly half of recruiters and hiring managers cited potential as the number-one factor, beating out experience (37%), personality (16%), and education (2%).

When you are hiring, are you looking for potential? I have observed that CPA hiring managers are usually looking for experience. The fact is experienced accountants, no matter what their level, are very hard to find and even more difficult to keep. Plus, they always bring “baggage” with them.

Hopefully, you have a strong intern program and are hiring from that pool of talent in an effort to build your firm for the future.  In this day and age, you need to look for candidates who have the willingness and ability to grow and adapt to new circumstances. The best employees are lifelong learners and are always seeking new experiences. Does that sound like the accountants on your staff? I doubt it. Many CPAs, not all, are known for avoiding change (and new experiences).

As you hire the new generation of accountants, I think you will find candidates who have the willingness and ability to grow and adapt. Maybe it is time to update your interview and selection process. (I have an Interview & Selection Guide that is available for purchase. Contact me if you are interested.)

 

  • You cannot push anyone up the ladder unless he is willing to climb it.
  • Andrew Carnegie

Wednesday, September 11th, 2019

Become a Chief Retention Officer

“People don’t leave bad companies, they leave bad managers.” – Marcus Buckingham

One way to solve the problem of finding and hiring top talent is to be sure you don’t lose the top talent you already have.

You are well aware of the time, effort and dollars you spend trying to find and hire a qualified candidate. That is why it just makes sense to focus on making all partners and managers Chief Retention Officers.

How do you do that? Have them all read First, Break All the Rules by Marcus Buckingham and Curt Coffman. The authors contend that employees leave managers, not companies. I strongly believe that this is the case in CPA firms. Buckingham and Coffman offer 12 questions that can be used to measure the core elements needed to attract, develop and retain the next generation of CPA firm leaders.

The questions are:

1. Do I know what is expected of me at work?
2. Do I have the materials and equipment I need to do my work right?
3. At work, do I have the opportunity to do what I do best every day?
4. In the last seven days, have I received recognition or praise for doing good work?
5. Does my supervisor, or someone at work, seem to care about me as a person?
6. Is there someone at work who encourages both my personal and my career development?
7. At work, do my opinions seem to count?
8. Does the mission/purpose of my company make me feel my job is important?
9. Are my co-workers committed to doing quality work?
10. Do I have a best friend at work?
11. In the last six months, has someone at work talked to me about my progress?
12. This last year, have I had opportunities at work to learn and grow?

After this fall busy season is over, equip your leaders with these questions and have them meet and talk with the people they supervise. In addition to the questions, be sure your partners/managers can describe what a talented professional’s career path looks like.

  • Success is not the key to happiness. Happiness is the key to success. If you love what you are doing, your will be successful.
  • Albert Schweitzer