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The Boomer Bulletin - 2009
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10 Ways to Recruit Great Talent in Today's Economy

Posted By Sandra Wiley, Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Attracting and retaining the best human capital remains a crucial initiative for the accounting industry. Finding candidates who have skills, are motivated and fit the culture of the firm is a challenge, and some believe the only way to get the best is to "steal” them from other firms or offer huge signing bonuses. While those methods may work in some cases, there are better ways to recruit great people while navigating through the troubled economy. Consider the following.

10 - Look at Open Positions Through New Glasses

Challenge your pre-conceived notions about hiring. You may be overlooking some sterling opportunities. Here are some examples of ways to look outside of the box.

  • Reassess what skills your firm really needs to fill a position. Does someone need an accounting degree for the job?
  • Re-arrange some duties and create new positions that require a different set of qualifications. Doing so will open the door to a new group of candidates.
  • Don’t overlook talent just because the job role and individual are not an exact match. Remember that your competitors are looking for good talent, too.

9 - Foster a Learning Environment

It makes no difference at what level a new staff member is hired. Everyone is looking for an opportunity to learn and grow. The stronger your firm’s learning culture, the more attractive it becomes to job seekers. Without it, your firm is simply at a competitive disadvantage in the market for talent. Make it a high priority and implement learning initiatives as part of your firm's strategic plan.

8 - Share Your Strategic Plan

Strategic planning is a powerful yet often overlooked recruiting tool. Firms that are open to employees about long-term objectives and want people to understand their roles in fulfilling them are attractive workplaces.

7 - Strengthen Your Technology

Today's job seekers prefer opportunities to work with tools that help them do their jobs efficiently. Take a look at the systems your firm has in place. Are they enticing to new candidates? If not, make the necessary upgrades to put your firm in a competitive position. If you are comfortable with the systems you have, brag about them to job candidates.

6 - Check Out Your Archives

Some potential job candidates you may not normally consider:

  • Walk-in applicants who were looking for a position when you were not ready for them.
  • Employees who left but now may be interested in returning after realizing the grass was not greener.
  • Candidates who applied for an open position but were more qualified for another position that wasn't open at the time but now has come available.

5 - Tap Into Your "Extended Human Resources Department"

No one knows your culture and the benefits of working at your firm better than those already there. Offer the tools they need to refer potential job candidates. These may include brochures, referral cards and online forms. Also consider offering a monetary reward for staff members who recruit eventual hires.

4 - Don't Neglect to 'Net Work

It almost goes without saying that firms should use the popular employment search engines, but don’t forget to use your own website also.

Many candidates search local firms’ websites to find out more about opportunities in the market. Why not offer them an opportunity to drop off a resume at your online "desk”? Job hunters today are comfortable with submitting application materials online, so be sure your recruitment strategies are compatible with receiving their information.

3 - Look for Young Talent

Though the number of graduates in accounting has been steadily increasing, the competition for college interns who are juniors and seniors is still strong. Expand your reach by looking at freshmen and sophomores who have identified accounting as a primary area of interest. You stand a better chance of endearing them to your firm if they intern there for three to four rather than one to two years.

2 - Help Job Seekers Find (and Want) You

Job seekers are looking for great firms like yours. You can help them find (and want) you by hosting an informal open house and making a good impression at job fairs.

It is not enough to merely show up at a table (in a long line of tables), wait for traffic to pass and hope somebody picks up a brochure. Find a "cheerleader” for your firm who is outgoing as well as professional. Create an "experience” at these events that shows off your firm’s most valuable assets – technology, learning opportunities, benefits, etc. You don’t have to explain everything, but help potential job candidates want to learn more about working for your firm. This is your opportunity to gather resumes and make a first impression of potential applicants.

Don’t be afraid to try something new and unique. One firm worked with a local university to offer a dramatic performance about the benefits of being an employee there. The event was highly successful and increased the number of qualified job applicants.

1 - Build a Recruitment Plan

Recruitment does not just happen; you must strategically plan and systematically follow through in order to find the best candidates for your firm. Here's a primer on how to get started with a plan.

  • Identify five objectives
  • Determine how to measure the success of those objectives. Without measurements, you will never know if your objectives were successful.
  • Develop strategies – step by step processes to drive your objectives throughout the year.
  • Build in accountability at the individual level. If no one is responsible, don’t be surprised when objectives are not realized.
  • Assign Due Dates. People simply work smarter and with greater intensity when they know a project has an end date.

Once documented, follow up on the plan with quarterly meetings to ensure everything is working and that no changes are required.

Follow these steps, use some creativity and the challenge of recruiting for your firm will seem much less overwhelming!

Tags:  Human Capital  Sandra Wiley 

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