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Technology Trends in Accounting 2021 Research Report
Discover the progress accountancy firms have made in their business and client service transformation, and what impact the pandemic has had on their use of technology.

Recruiting the Best Accountants in a Digitally Connected World

Joris Van Der Gucht
Written by: Joris Van Der Gucht

When it comes to the job market in 2017, the competition is fierce. Not just for employees, but for employers too.

Large firms that will gladly hoover up the best candidates, as the prestige of these large firms means job seekers flock to them.

Your practice might not have that same recognition. The smaller your firm is, the more you’ve got to get your name and brand out there.

Social networking

When you’re looking for talent, whether it’s for a prestigious or a small firm, don’t ignore how social media has democratised the process of hiring.

For years, recruiters have been creating ‘talent maps’. Talent mapping works in a similar way to scouting in football. Recruiters went out and identified talent by company, job role, geographic location. That’s how they created portfolios of professional applicants.

These days, thanks to social media, it’s easier than ever for a practice to create its own talent maps. LinkedIn is a goldmine, allowing you to search by skill, qualification, location or industry. Map interesting candidates visually using a tool like Excel.

Also, go out of your way to participate in discussion groups relevant to your industry. Share content on issues relevant to your business and sector, that the people you want to connect with might find relevant.

The power of referrals and word of mouth

To put it bluntly, employees gossip.

An accountant at your practice that is being challenged, that is doing rewarding, technologically enabled work inspired by purpose, will rave about your practice to their networks. Effective recruiting begins at home.

Although, it might seem like a low tech solution in this high tech world, inspiring your existing employees is an incredibly powerful recruitment tool.

Your practice’s good reputation will, thanks to our connected world, spread like wildfire. When a position opens up, the top talent will naturally gravitate towards you.

But what does it mean to inspire your employees?

A good place to start is with Bruce Pfau’s excellent book ‘The Human Capital Edge’. According to Pfau, there are just four key questions that employees ask themselves, again and again:

  • Is this a winning organisation I can be proud of?
  • Can I maximise my performance on the job?
  • Are people treated well economically and interpersonally?
  • And, finally, is the work itself fulfilling and enjoyable?

It’s safe to say that a practice just focusing on humdrum number crunching, just won’t cut it in today’s competitive marketplace.

What you need to do

The best place to start is by placing your practice at the forefront of technological progress. This gives employees a company to be proud of, it allows them to maximise their potential and will add to your practice’s bottom line (and, in turn, benefit your employees financially, too).

Millennial accountants are digital natives who grew up in a connected world, where communication channels are dominated by technology. It permeates every aspect of their personal lives and it’s important to leverage these intuitive, real time and modern user experiences within your firm.

Digital baby steps

Introduce modern technological progress into every aspect of your service offering to increase efficiencies and align your firm to your employees tech expectations. For example, instead of annual compliance in-person meetings, try to bring your meetings online using any of the widely available and popular applications like Zoom, GoToMeeting or Skype.

Better yet, invest in a digital platform that can centralise and automate your clients data and streamline every internal process and workflow, so that your employees are not expected to crunch numbers but instead concentrate on analysing high level, critical analysis that can help businesses thrive.

Nail your practice’s purpose (and then fulfil it)

Ultimately, any employee deciding on whether to join your practice will ask themselves "why should I join this firm?” This generation of employees place an incredibly strong emphasis on purpose. A study by Net Impact showed that almost half of today’s workforce would take a 15% pay cut to work for an organisation with an inspiring purpose.

But ‘purpose’ is a slippery concept. But formulating your practice’s purpose doesn’t need to be a prolonged philosophical exercise. As the author and speaker Simon Sinek famously puts it, Start with Why”. Ask yourself: Why does my practice exist? For inspiration, take a look at the award winning practice Tayabali Tomlin’s ‘Why’:

“At the heart of our ‘Why’ is our determination to think differently and to challenge the status quo in all that we do. To turn normal into abnormal, ordinary into extraordinary. To be remarkable.”

Nail your purpose and embed it at the heart of your practice. Gear your practice towards pursuing it.

While the focus on technology often centres on what it can do and technical specs, but its ability to support purpose is often overlooked. The modern day ‘connected’ accountant not only frees up hours of their work life (although, that’s certainly a benefit) but they are also free to reframe and elevate the meaning and purpose of their work.