Art of Accounting: Who to hire

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I have written tons of articles on what type of person to hire, and I wonder if it is possible to add anything new to what I’ve said. Normally I would not think I could add anything new, but I can.

Actually I could repeat everything I’ve said previously and a good portion of those reading this column will be reading about my views for the first time since not everyone reads everything I post (although they should) and there is a fluidity of readership. However, here are some bullet points of things to consider:

• My best hires were those I hired out of school and trained. There were exceptions with experienced people, but they were too few to warrant the disappointments, disruptions, cost, wasted time and lost opportunities.

• Training is essential, but it needs to be deliberate, regular and devoid of elongated sessions. You can get a free copy of my 30:30 training method by emailing me at GoodiesFromEd@withum.com.

• Question: Why would you hire an experienced person who tells you they left their previous job because they did not get good experience?

• I hired when my partners or I were personally overloaded with work. That was an easy decision. If we were overloaded, then so was everyone below us. Overloading is a prescription for stagnation and lack of growth. We hired at the lowest level and advanced or pushed everyone up until those immediately below me and/or my partners took over what we were doing and relieved us of the overload.

• Training was a team effort, and each person was expected to train those below them (and based on skills or industry knowledge, occasionally some above them).

• I have found that many experienced people I hired early on were not used to training lower-level staff or were able to do so. If they weren’t able to quickly adapt, we usually did not allow them to continue to work at our firm.

• Summer interns were always hired by us. With our training, they quickly performed at reasonable levels, and we got a good look at people we would soon be considering for a permanent position. We hired many good people this way. FYI, Joe Picone in my Withum New Brunswick office has hired more than 100 interns, with quite a few being offered permanent positions. Brad Caruso was one such intern who just became a partner.

• Hiring staff doesn’t just refer to accountants. This also includes administrative people, paraprofessionals and bookkeepers. Follow my rule—hire when you or your partners are overloaded. You can also get overloaded with non-client-related work, including many administrative functions that can easily be done by others. If your office is large enough, also consider a go-fer. Once you have one, you’ll wonder how you did without one for so long.

Keep in mind that the above suggestions relay things I actually did successfully. If you are skeptical about anything here, I suggest you contact me and we can discuss it. Email me at emendlowitz@withum.com, include your phone number and give me a couple of days to call you.

Edward Mendlowitz, CPA, is partner at WithumSmith+Brown, PC, CPAs. He is on the Accounting Today Top 100 Influential People List. He is the author of 24 books, including “How to Review Tax Returns,” co-written with Andrew D. Mendlowitz, and “Managing Your Tax Season, Third Edition.” Ed also writes a twice-a-week blog addressing issues that clients have at www.partners-network.com. Art of Accounting is a continuing series where Ed shares autobiographical experiences with tips that he hopes can be adopted by his colleagues. Ed welcomes practice management questions and can be reached at (732) 964-9329 or emendlowitz@withum.com.

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