How to Plan Ahead for Hiring a Public Accountant

You always need good CPAs. Whether you’re working on annual reports or preparing to go public, a strong public accounting team is one of your most important assets. Cultivating that team requires careful planning and foresight, so you always want to think ahead. Even if you have a great accounting department right now, you should anticipate turnover. Professionals in the Bay Area stay with their jobs for an average of two to three years before moving on. Just because an employee seems happy, it doesn’t mean you should expect long-term loyalty. People want to climb the career ladder, and they’ll leave your organization once they’ve identified their next opportunities. It’s important to be mindful of this as you approach your book-closing season or make plans for taking the company public. The last thing you want is to be short-handed during the busiest times of the year. Give yourself ample time to recruit and hire new CPAs. Don’t expect that you’ll be able to find someone within a month or two, because the process often takes much longer. There’s never been a more competitive market for CPAs, and public accounting firms are doing an amazing job of retaining their people. CPAs are enjoying compensation increases, great training, and opportunities for career growth, so they’re reluctant to leave their firms. At BVOH Finance & Accounting Search, our goal is to help clients find the right CPAs within a 30-day window. But in the current climate, it can take three months or longer, depending on the company and the available position.    We advise clients to start their searches six to seven months in advance of when they’ll need new hires in the office. Here’s how to use that period effectively:

1. Evaluate your timeline.  

If you want someone who can help with annual reports in January, they need to be fully integrated by December. Perhaps you’re preparing to go public in September, and you need a CPA to help with that transition. Work backward from the time when you need them trained and in their seats.

2. Write a thorough job description.

Once you’ve worked out your timeline, craft your job description. It should be more than a bulleted list of qualifications and responsibilities. Use the job description to attract the very best people and ensure that only the best candidates make it to the interview process. Public accountants aren’t just looking for a gig; they want to join a company where they can build their careers. Sell them on the opportunities for growth at your organization. Present a big picture vision along with the nuts and bolts of the job.

3. Take advantage of the summer months.

Autumn is the busiest time of year for hiring accountants, so get a jump on other organizations by scheduling summer interviews instead. With the busy season behind them, candidates will have more availability to take meetings during the summer. You may be able to recruit good CPAs during the fall, but know that they’ll be interviewing with other companies as well. The competition for their time and talent becomes much steeper. You also have to consider the holidays. By Thanksgiving, people are scheduling vacations and time off with their families. If you don’t get your interviews in by then, you may not find the quality of candidates you want for the coming year. Summer is an especially good time to recruit candidates whom you want to start by January. They’ll have plenty of time to make a decision, give notice to their current firms, and go through the onboarding process before diving in. It’s nearly impossible to find a full-time hire in January and February, so you may need to work with a temp if you’re desperate for CPAs during those months.

4. Get your team on the same page.

Everyone should be in agreement on the types of people you want to hire and where they’ll fit in with the organization. The interview process should be seamless for candidates. You don’t want them to perceive tension or disorganization. Remember, the best recruits come from excellent public accounting firms. You need to offer an even better package and working environment if you want to woo them.

5. Connect with a recruiter.

Reach out to a trusted recruiter before you post the job description. They’ll likely know of outstanding candidates who might be interested in working with the company. When clients approach BVOH Finance & Accounting Search, before they’ve even opened the application process, we keep their needs top of mind as we meet with candidates. That ensures that our clients have access to the best people in their fields. Finding the right CPAs for your organization is challenging. It takes time and energy to identify the most promising prospects, and recruiters can help immeasurably. Include recruiters as part of your hiring team, and you’ll consistently land the high-quality talent that will help your business soar.

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