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Accounting

7 key factors to consider when hiring new accountants for your firm

Every tax and accounting firm is unique, so there’s really no one-size-fits-all approach to hiring. However, there are seven key factors to consider before posting your next job advertisement.

1. Company culture

Understanding your company culture is a useful step in finding a new accountant who is the right fit for your firm. Take some time to understand your company culture, the environment of your office, and the types of people on your team.

Would you describe your workplace as ultra-corporate or casual? Is it an open and collaborative culture or a rows-of-separate-cubicles kind of office? Do you need “virtual CPAs” who can excel in a remote or hybrid working model?

2. Work style

Another important consideration is work style. What is it you’re looking for? Do you need someone who will fit well within the existing team or bring some new efficiency into it?

Get an idea of each candidate’s work style, their approach to problem solving, and their outlook on collaboration.

3. Job requirements

Of course, the job requirements are one of the most important elements to consider.

Be sure to do a full breakdown of everything a new accountant will have to do, who they’ll have to work with, and what challenges they’ll need to overcome. This will help you write better job descriptions and find someone who more closely matches the requirements.

4. Solid technical skills and software experience

Over the years, the role of tax and accounting firm employees has become increasingly digital-focused. With different tax, accounting, and payroll software and solutions, you need to find employees who are familiar with and comfortable working with various systems.

This doesn’t mean finding people who can handle simple data entry. Instead, look for those who demonstrate they can solve technical problems or address errors that may come up when using different software. According to digital skills expert Samantha Mansfield, having a “digital mindset” is one of the four most critical skills for CPAs if they want to improve the value they offer clients.

5. Communication

Accountants have to collaborate with many different people inside and outside the firm.

Not everyone has the same level of technical accounting knowledge, so good communication is key, especially when it comes to client communication. If a client needs help understanding complex financial statements, you’ll need an accountant who is skilled at describing things in layman’s terms (without patronizing).

6. Good business acumen

Knowledge of finance and accounting is, of course, vital when hiring for a tax and accounting firm. However, what makes certain candidates stand out among the rest is having strong business acumen. Accountants need to see the bigger picture of an entire business beyond profit and loss statements; that’s how they can deliver more value to clients and grow your accounting firm with advisory services.

7. Problem-solving skills

Natural problem solvers are an asset to any workplace, but especially so in accounting. Tax and accounting professionals are the bedrock of any successful financial endeavor, and it’s up to them to steer individuals and business owners in the right direction, overcoming problems and hiccups.

When interviewing candidates, make sure you look for examples of good problem-solving ability.

Appreciate and promote diversity in your accounting firm’s hiring process

There are many qualities to consider when hiring new tax and accounting professionals for your firm. But don’t just focus on the resume itself. Remember, you’re hiring a person who will need to fit into the existing team while also bringing something new and different.

An often overlooked consideration is diversity and inclusion. The best accounting teams are diverse across multiple seniority levels. After all, a melting pot of different people, experiences, skills, and viewpoints leads to the most creative and comprehensive problem solving.

Diversity and inclusion are also key factors in retention, company culture, and employee satisfaction. According to an Institute of Management Accountants (IMA) and CalCPA report, at least 30% of respondents have left organizations because of a lack of inclusion.

When hiring, make an effort to bring diversity to your accounting team and consider all elements of the role, including your existing company culture, to find great fits. Download our free special report, A roadmap for accounting firms to expand inclusion of diverse accountants, for more on this topic.

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Earn one CPE credit when you sign up for our Checkpoint Learning course on diversity and inclusion in the workplace.

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