Today’s new recruits could be your firm’s future managers and partners. So how do you attract the best talent for the job?
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According to almost a third of Australian accounting firms, finding quality staff is one of the main challenges they face1. Younger workers want career flexibility and are unlikely to stay in the same job for life, so for most firms, staff turnover is an unavoidable part of the business life cycle. Even if your firm already has a clear succession plan in place, no staffing arrangement is watertight — and you may find yourself having to recruit when you least expect it.
But how can you attract the best and brightest graduate recruits to your firm — and encourage them to stick with you? To find out, we spoke to Canberra-based millennial Matthew Coman, Count Financial’s 2016 Young Adviser of the Year.
In 2010, Coman went straight from university into a graduate accountant position with Beames & Associates (now Addvantage Accounting). But unlike others in his job-hopping generation, he’s been with the firm ever since — and has also worked his way up to the role of Senior Financial Adviser.
Here are Coman’s tips on how you can attract young recruits who will be an asset to your business for many years to come.
1. Know what you want
When you’re looking to recruit new staff, it’s important to consider your business’s future needs, not just your immediate needs. If you have a clear vision for the business, you’ll have a better idea of the kind of person that will be able to help you achieve your strategic goals.
With that in mind, you’ll be able to find a candidate who is excited to play a part in building your business’s future.
“Don’t be afraid to ask potential recruits what drives them,” Coman said. “If you choose someone who’s right for your business, you won’t need to dangle carrots in front of them just to keep them motivated.”
2. Find the keepers
Recruitment can be time-consuming and costly, so finding the right person at the outset can make a big difference.
Coman feels that many firms focus too heavily on selecting candidates based on their stand-out resumes or high university marks. Although these things are important, it also makes sense to choose someone who will enjoy being part of your team and will make a positive contribution to your workplace culture.
“It’s best to hire for fit, based on the culture of your business,” Coman said. “You can teach someone skills, but can’t change their personality — so you’re better off choosing the kind of person you’d like to work with.”
3. Offer careers, not jobs
Coman admits that when he first joined Beames & Associates, he didn’t have a definite career path in mind. But once he knew where he wanted to go, his managers made it clear that they’d help him get there.
“Not long after I started as an accountant, I became interested in financial advice as a career,” Coman said. “So when a vacancy came up in my firm for a paraplanner, I decided to go for it. The firm paid for me to complete a Graduate Diploma in Financial Planning, as well as sending me on Count’s Authorised Representative course — that really helped with my progression into financial advice.”
4. Look for opportunities
Coman says that millennials are more likely to be attracted to firms where they know they’ll be valued and appreciated. A good place to start is to ask candidates about any special capabilities or knowledge they can bring to the business.
For example, young recruits might have superior skills when it comes to using software packages or understanding how to leverage social media channels. What’s more, they can also help you understand their generational peers, with insights into what younger clients look for in an accountant or financial adviser.
“Younger clients are the ones who are going to keep your firm going in future — so gaining the insights of your younger staff could help you win more business,” Coman pointed out.
5. Set a good example
According to a recent international study, millennials are more likely to be attracted to trustworthy companies that put the welfare of their employees and clients above profits2.
“If graduates can see that that your firm has integrity, they’ll be more eager to join your business — and even more importantly, they’ll want to stay,” Coman said.
New recruits will also be more likely to stick with your firm if you make the effort to encourage and inspire them in their new roles. This is the approach Coman’s managers took when he joined Beames & Associates, which he says went a long way towards building his loyalty to the firm.
Coman commented: “From watching the senior partners, I learned how important it is to care —which includes caring about the people you work with and taking pride in what you do. Most importantly, whether you’re an accountant or an adviser, you’ll get more out of your role if you care about your clients and what’s important to them.”
1 CommBank Accounting Market Pulse, Beaton Research & Consulting, December 2015.
2 The 2016 Deloitte Millennial Survey: Winning over the next generation of leaders, Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu Limited.