Regardless of firm size, recruiting is absolutely one of the top challenges that CPA firms face today. Recruiting in the current business climate isn’t as simple as dialing for dollars; sadly, there are literally not enough candidates (existing within the desired experience ranges) to fill key positions. Without question, the competition is tough. For most firms, home growing and developing the talent in-house is the best way to address the challenge. Sure, this is a longer term investment, but it can pay much larger dividends over the long haul. Start with these important steps:
- Start an internship program. Regardless of whether you can hire one intern or multiple interns each year, begin a program. This will allow you to begin building relationships with young accountants. Even if you can’t hire them now, they will know about you. For most of the small and mid-size firms out there, this can be critical.
- Connect through social media. Email addresses change, but most young CPAs are very active on social media. Establishing a digital connection to them through LinkedIn or your Facebook page can give you access to them throughout their career. In fact, LinkedIn is growing significantly in the university market because of their University pages.
- Have good training programs. For small firms this can be tough to build because of limited resources. However, technology allows you to leverage and repurpose what you do. Consider recording your training sessions or recording on-demand training webinars for the things that don’t change that often. Many software companies also provide supplemental information. Make sure they are learning – and not just on the job.
- Retain them. Offering challenging work and the things that matter to them are the best ways to keep the talent pool engaged. Challenged employees who are treated well – and also have superiors showing a genuine interest in them – are less likely to leave. Money isn’t everything; in fact, it’s often an excuse.
- Know your talent’s strengths – and play to it. Too often we have a very specific set of requirements and try to fit everyone into the exact mold. Often times, I hear firms that have let top talent go because they weren’t the best-in-class technically or didn’t have the exact background they needed. Your talent pool opens up significantly if you can learn to work with people’s strengths and create roles where they will be successful.
Recruiting young and mid-level CPAs is only going to get tougher. I know many of you wonder if the investment is worth it. What if I spend all this time developing them and they leave? I’m not going to lie; it’s always a risk. However, rewards don’t come without a little risk. I think you will find that your retention rate will actually increase with more training, and it will also help to facilitate more growth. Most people want to be part of something that is growing, not dying.