Have you ever seen job boards like UpWork and Freelancer.com and wished you could attract talent that way for your accounting firm? Our guest for this week’s Growing Your Firm podcast decided to make his own talent attracting machine. Jeff Maddux created AccountantList, a job board site that connects people in the accounting world with employers who need their services. We wanted to ask him what makes a good job posting for an accounting position. He shared his thoughts about attracting the best talent in the field to your firm.
Jeff’s job history
Why he started AccountantList
What accounting firms need to add to a job listing to attract top talent
The most important benefit and piece of information you can offer
Why you need to manage expectations as soon as a candidate applies
Some accountants are not looking to stick with a single firm. They want flexibility and remote work. AccountantList was created to enable this sort of employment arrangement and to help firms find accountants faster. At some point, all growing firms need to regularly start attracting talent to stay fresh in the minds of job seekers and have enough talent in their pockets to cope with growth. The first connection with your candidates is often through a job posting. Most job postings just have boring basics. If you’re sticking with the basics, you won’t attract the best because there’s nothing about your firm that stands out. So, what do you need to add to make your job posting and your firm stand apart from others.
Start With A Mission
In the tech market, the market is so hot for talent that job postings have changed a lot to keep up. Jeff suggests looking to those kinds of postings for inspiration. The first thing he looks for is a mission statement. An example from the interview reads: “We are a small team of tech-savvy problem-solvers who love what we do.” A job description should be designed to sell the job to the candidates. The mission statement can give them a taste of what they can expect if they “buy” your job offer and get employed. It explains what you’re doing that’s different from other firms. This is the “why” behind the “what we do”. It can reveal something about your company culture. Most important, it’s your main selling point.
Explain Your Company
A high-quality candidate can afford to be picky. They’re not going to throw their resume to every job posting related to accounting in the title. Candidates want to know who they are working for, and that’s why you need an “About Us” section in your posting. The About Us section expands on the mission statement. Talk about what your firm is doing, why you do it, what makes you different or better. Talk about the culture and even talk about the benefits. Another thing to add is a bit about the team they’d be working with and some of the tools you use. Listing your toolchain is a big plus because it will pull in people already familiar with those tools. Don’t assume that the reader will go to your website or go to Glassdoor to learn more about you. Lay it all out there.
Explain Your Impact
Modern job seekers want to know that their work makes a difference to the company and to the wider world. If you can talk about how whoever fills the role can do that through your company, that’s a huge selling point. Let’s take a simple bookkeeper. If your firm works with small businesses, you could explain that a good bookkeeper can keep a business from going bust from basic accounting errors. That’s far more motivating than saying something like, “your role in this firm will be to balance books and reconcile accounts.”
The Most Important Benefit
According to Jeff, the most important benefit that top talent is looking for in 2019 is workplace flexibility. This could be working remotely, having more vacation, or even sabbatical options. Another possibility from the tech firms is to offer the ability to work a number of days from home after they’ve worked at the office for a few years. This can be a way to take steps toward a more flexible workplace. With today’s technology and accounting tools, this isn’t as scary as it once was. But it does require a certain amount of discipline and good workflows so that management can keep track of what’s going on without needing to talk to the remote worker directly.
The Salary Question
Another recommendation is to be very clear about your salary ranges. Don’t just say that it is competitive, or worse, don’t list it at all. Top talent doesn’t want to waste time going through your interview process to find out that the money isn’t enough for them. If you want top talent, you have to pay for it. It’s that simple. Jeff believes that job postings that list a salary range attract more quality applications. It also saves on interviewing time because you don’t have to do the dance to bring someone almost to hire and then disappointing them at the end. The company that runs Buffer, a social media posting tool, makes it very explicit. They have a table and a formula that explains how they pay people. If you have X years of experience at Y level, you will get paid Z amount. You don’t have to be that explicit, but you should experiment with that level of transparency. We want to thank Jeff for his time to talk with us about job postings and how to make them better and about AccountantList. If you have a job post that you’d like to get his feedback on, he has offered to do this. Send your listing to Jeff’s email address for his feedback.