How to Hire an Accounting Wizard (Part 1)

hire an accountant - hire a wizard

I recently set out to hire an accountant to join our staff at Fuse Financial Partners. It’s a task that I had been dreading for months — imagining that a flood of resumes would drown me in endless choices, and that communicating with candidates would be an administrative nightmare.

According to employment specialists at ERE.net, every job posting will receive between 200 and 250 applications.  So, if I were to spend just 3 minutes giving each resume a fair review, sorting it into a “call back” pile, and comparing it to the others… well, that’s more than 12 hours spent.

So I did not want 250 resumes… I really only wanted the 3 best.  And if I could be instantly handed the ONE that was a perfect fit?  Even better.  Recruiting suddenly seemed like a huge waste of time… and yet the process is vitally important.

Happily, I found several ways to cut the time required substantially, and assure a much better outcome. I’ll share several tips with you this week about how to hire a great accountant, starting with how to make your advertisement work for you instead of against you.  Here’s the secret:

Don’t Advertise the Job, Advertise the Culture

To get only the best applications, put yourself in the candidates shoes for a second.  They want an accounting job.  They open Craig’s list and see 30 jobs that all sound the same.  “Accountant wanted for A/R, A/P and bank reconciliation”.  Blah, blah, blah.  They easily click “send resume” on every ad because, well, it said accounting and they are an accountant. Every job seeker looking for an “accounting job” will send a resume to this kind of generic “accountant wanted” ad.

But you don’t want every job seeker — you want the best of the best. You want a person who fits your culture, who is motivated to perform well, and who contributes more than “bank reconciliations” to your organization.  If you advertise only the basics, you’ll get only the basics back.

So instead of posting the same ole accounting job, assume that a great candidate knows the basics of an accounting job and take the opportunity to make your posting say something different.  Here’s the ad I wrote for Craig’s List:


 ACCOUNTING WIZARDS WANTED….

IF YOU KNOW small business accounting and are looking for a flexible, friendly and fulfilling work environment… then Fuse Financial Partners is looking for you!

ABOUT YOU: You are detail oriented — you love to find every mistake and account for every cent because when you’re done reconciling a bank statement, it is a thing of great beauty. Your balance sheets balance, your gross margin is never gross, and your cash always flows in the right direction.

OK, you’re not super-human. You might slip and say, “Credit” when you mean “Debit”, and taxes are probably not be your thing, but you love to help people work through boxes of receipts, create smooth work flows, and tally up the truth about their business.

OH YEA, and you like variety.  Sometimes you’ll be working at home or in our south-west Charlotte office and sometimes we’ll ask you to pack your superhero accounting gear up and jet out to a customer location anywhere in the greater Charlotte area.

DOES THAT SOUND LIKE YOU? Then you’ll love us… We are a group of finance junkies who love to help entrepreneurs grow their business. We apply financial discipline and Actionable Advice to every aspect of their company. We work hand-in-glove with a growing company to ignite their business performance. We have a nice office in Ayrsley, but you won’t find us there very often — we work both virtually and at our client locations.

WE’RE HIRING NOW for one or two accounting wizards. Better compensation than you will make anywhere else for this work — because we expect that your work is better than anyone else’s!


The result?

This ad brought in about 25 total resumes in the first day… and I’m happy to report that nearly all were highly qualified. In fact, more than half were from people with Master’s degrees in accounting (even though the starting wage we advertised was just $18/hour).

Why did this tounge-in-cheek job posting attract more than 15 fantastic candidates (and almost no riff-raff!)? By focusing on the human side of the job, we caught the eye of candidates who wanted more than a robotic desk job. We let our culture shine through, and differentiated ourselves from the hundreds of humorless ads on Craig’s list.

And what’s more amazing, the best candidates were easy to identify because they replied in kind.  We got replies like this one:


Wow! Your job advertisement certainly caught my interest as I too am a numbers junkie.

As a child, while my sister played with dolls, I played with an abacus.

I count sheep at night not because I am unable to sleep; rather, I want to ensure all the sheep are accounted for.

To further demonstrate my passion for numbers, I have a Master’s degree in Accounting with a 4.0 G.P.A. I love to analyze data…


Now that’s a person I want on my team.  That’s a person who not only has amazing skills, but clicks with our culture.  And she was not the only one to reply in this way.

Here’s another great candidate:


Ok, your ad on Craig’s list definitely go my attention!  

I love the energy and humor attached to the ad for an accounting wizard and I want to know just how you got my personality description when it comes to balancing and reconciling?!?!?


See how easily I was able to find exactly the right fit?

Our ad described the exact person we were looking for … and they recognized themselves.

OK, sure, I still got 5 or 10 mediocre resumes.  But it was clear from their cover-letters that those candidates were either robotic accountants or humorless drones; neither of whom would be a good fit on our team, regardless of their accounting skills.

So next time you set out to hire an accountant — or any position for which you want a GREAT candidate and not a robotic desk jockey — let your inner Shakespeare guide you as you write the advertisement.  Let your true self show.  Give the candidates something to identify with. Describe the person you want (not just the work you need), and watch how the best candidates respond.

In the next post, I’ll tell you 2 more secrets to great hiring — the tools I found that automated the screening and ranking of candidates.  (And saved me more than 20 hours!)

In the meantime, if you’d like to use a couple of our Accounting Wizards, please give me a call.  Fuse Financial Partners is ready to take on any challenge!

Dedicated to your (wizard-powered) profits,
David Worrell

 

 

3 Comments
  1. This is a great idea. Not only do you find only the best qualified, but you get people that you can tell have a good sense of humour so you can decide whether they would fit in with the rest of your staff. That’s been one of the main focuses whenever I hire someone, to make sure they will gel well with everyone else. You can’t get the best work from someone if they alienate themselves from their peers.

    • So true Andrew — getting a good “Cultural fit”, or the right “chemistry” is as important as anything else…. maybe more important!
      Thanks for the note.

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David, Steve and Mac are looking forward to speaking with you!