The business community’s appreciation for the value of what CPAs know has increased in recent years. That’s great news, except for those responsible for finding and hiring CPAs. With so many companies eager to put that financial brainpower to work, a highly qualified accountant has more career choices than ever. No wonder the AICPA’s 2015 CPA Firm Top Issues Survey found that talent recruitment was one of the top two concerns for most small to mid-sized firms.

That means those firms need to be more creative when it comes to adding talent. And, since you probably don’t have a full-time recruiter on staff, that responsibility will fall to the firm’s owner or partners.

First, you may need to change your perspective. When you were a newly minted accountant, you worked hard to convince firms to hire you. In today’s job market, it’s up to employers to sell the benefits of working for their firms. When candidates know they have multiple options, you need to convince them that you offer the best choice. A big part of that is taking a highly personal approach so that candidates feel important and wanted. Instead of rushed interviews between client appointments, block out time so you can converse at length. You may even want to set up lunches between current employees and candidates so they can freely discuss office culture and other issues without you in the room.

In the past, you may have focused on finding experienced talent, but there are advantages to hiring at the entry level, because you can mold them to fit your firm’s needs. One way to attract entry-level folks is to strike up friendships with accounting professors at nearby colleges. Let them know you’re looking for promising students. You may even want to create paid internships that will provide the opportunity to give prospective candidates a “test drive.”

Finally, a great source for new employees is the people who currently work for you. They probably know others in the profession who have the right skills and would fit in with your firm’s culture. Employees tend to be careful about who they recommend, because they want both their employer and their colleagues to be happy with the decision. One way to encourage referrals is to offer cash bonuses for successful hires. If you need to free up funds to cover your recruiting costs, consider working with a lender who can provide financing based on future revenue streams, essentially turning those costs into an investment in growth.

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