Voices

Where should you be looking for top accounting talent?

Top accounting talent, like talent for many professional services, is in short supply these days. Accounting firms are competing ferociously to attract, land and retain the most talented and experienced employees to achieve and maintain a critical competitive edge in a highly competitive industry.

But most are going about it the wrong way.

A recent study conducted by the Hinge Research Institute revealed that most accounting firms still defer to traditional approaches for attracting prospects, with job ads and fairs topping the list. Unfortunately, that’s not where top prospects are looking for their next career move. Even the most popular social media such as Facebook, Twitter and Instagram didn’t fare well when it comes to recruiting.

Instead, top talent is turning to digital networking platforms such as LinkedIn to find and research possible new employers. According to our study, LinkedIn is used by 86 percent of job seekers, but only 66 percent of firms are actively using LinkedIn for job candidates — a 20 percentage-point gap. Clearly, LinkedIn has not only become the networking platform of choice, it’s where job candidates go first when they are ready to find a new position.

Job sources

Surprisingly, a smaller percentage of accounting firms than anticipated use their websites for recruitment purposes. So while a third of job candidates tend to use a firm’s website during their job search (it’s surprising that number isn’t higher), less than half of employers use their websites to attract prospects. Job seekers also use staffing firms, job-listing websites and specialized job boards more often than hiring firms do.

Different generations, different approaches

What’s really noticeable is the generational difference in how job candidates go about researching new jobs. While there are some similarities between age groups — they all prefer general web searches and job-listing websites — there are some stark differences too. For example, look at job fairs. Millennials, the youngest of the groups studied, are four to five times more likely to attend job fairs than Gen-X and Baby Boomer job seekers. It appears that job fairs are better suited to candidates who are just starting out in their careers. Most executive-level positions, however, are being filled through different channels.

In general, millennials appear to be more comfortable using digital platforms, including online job listing sites and web-based search, than their older peers.

So if your firm is struggling to attract top talent, you may be looking in all the wrong places. Here are some tips you can use to get on track with talent:

LinkedIn is a professional platform, Facebook is a social platform

Job seekers are using LinkedIn more than any other platform to find job opportunities and research firms — it can be a highly effective recruiting tool. In fact, many recruiters today are using LinkedIn with great success to contact promising candidates, whether or not they are actively looking for a new position. Facebook is more appropriate for posting the softer, more social side of your firm to provide a sense of the culture and what it’s like to work in your organization.

Boost your employer brand

While many professionals think of “brand” as their business’s customer-facing image, there is also an employer brand that must be developed and nurtured to appeal to prospects and attract job candidates. What’s your employer brand? It’s the collective impression created about the type of company you are, the level of respect you’ve earned internally and externally, what it’s like to work there, the value you offer to employees, and how they think of your firm.

To boost your employer brand, consider adding several pages to your website devoted to your workplace, culture, and benefits. The more you use photos, employee testimonials, and specific examples of why working at your firm is a better experience, the more persuasive your brand will be. And don’t forget to talk about the important work you do, your firm’s awards, and other factors that demonstrate your leadership, standing, and influence within your marketplace.

Spread the word, online and off

When you have a job opening, let people in your network know. Job seekers are asking their friends and colleagues to learn about opportunities. Also, post positions on niche and general online job sites.

There is top talent available for those accounting firms willing and able to engage them when and where they’re looking. If traditional recruiting tools are no longer effective for your firm, it’s time to utilize the tips we discussed here. The simple truth is, you can find top talent you’re looking for if you know where they’re looking.