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How to Find the Right Tax Talent to Build Your Growing Firm

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Finding the right talent to build your growing firm can be like finding a needle in a haystack. The process can be lengthy, expensive and time consuming, and hiring the wrong person can have a lasting, unwanted effect on the firm. It takes three initiatives to find and retain the best talent:

  1. Create an attractive company culture.
  2. Develop a robust recruiting pipeline.
  3. Clearly define what skills and traits determine a successful employee in your firm, then screen all candidates.

Culture. Today’s job seekers have abundant opportunities and a clear vision of what they want, so it’s crucial that you understand what appeals to them: flexible schedules, the opportunity to work from home and corporate philanthropy programs, just to name a few. Then, decide how you can incorporate some of these incentives into your firm.

Remember, your culture is your brand; if you have not built an attractive, successful culture and articulated it, today’s savvy candidates won’t give you a second glance. Just as you craft and advertise your brand to attract clients, you must create a brand around your firm’s culture, convey that brand to potential candidates and live it. If not, your recruits won’t be around long enough for you to see the ROI on your recruiting efforts.

Pipeline. Just as you must define and develop your brand, your pipeline needs the same attention. How will you reach the candidates you want? Recruiting is all about building and cultivating relationships. Your next great hire may come from a job posting, social media site, professional recruiter, strategic partner, college recruiting program or an employee referral program.

Identify which colleges and universities have quality accounting programs and which ones will support your firm’s recruitment efforts. Get your brand out on the top social media and job search sites, including LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter and Glassdoor, and post regularly to get results. Consider incentivizing your employees to refer their friends and colleagues.

Employee referral programs can be highly effective, and the candidates they produce have a higher retention rate than other referral sources. Don’t overlook your personal and business networks; they can be a rich referral environment. Building a pipeline is not like throwing spaghetti on the wall and seeing what sticks. To get the results you are looking for, you need to be strategic and make sure you can sustain your efforts so that you don’t lose ground or credibility.

Define and Screen. Candidates will come calling if you are successful in building your brand and marketing it via your pipeline, but how do you make the “right” hires? The most successful firms continually assess their current and future needs, create clear role descriptions, define competencies, and then screen candidates based on that information. A thorough screening process allows you to assess a candidate’s technical skills, soft skills and “fit” for the role, as well as the firm’s culture.

Every firm wants to hire stars that they can develop into tomorrow’s leaders, yet a star in the wrong role is still just a square peg trying to find a place in a round hole. Take the time to ask quality questions and listen to what the candidate is and isn’t telling you. Include staff of varying levels of responsibility and tenure in the interviewing process to get a well-rounded perspective of the candidate and to ensure the candidate has a clear understanding of what the job entails. Don’t keep candidates waiting too long if you are interested. In this market, it is important to make a quick but thoughtful decision.

If you really want to hire the right tax talent to build your growing firm, it’s going to take thought, creativity and consistent, deliberate action, as well as just a little bit of luck!

Interested in another perspective on this topic? Then read this article on the Tax Pro Center: “7 Key Strategies to Attract Outstanding Talent.”

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