An excerpt from Accounting Today’s article by Richard Stanger and Carolyn Carlson, Winning the War for Talent.
Many accounting firms have programs that give bonuses to staff for sourcing candidates. In some cases, these programs are highly successful, but in many they are not. What makes the difference? The answer is culture.
The firms that do this well set the stage before staff join the firm. During recruiting interviews, the importance of attracting and developing people at all levels is stressed as an important priority for the firm. Candidates are told they will be mentored and will be expected to mentor others as their careers progress. Note the subtle message—working the expectation of career progression into an early interview. They are also told that attracting great team members is an important part of their job. In fact, during orientation, this aspect is covered in detail, along with the importance of networking to their careers.
As one partner recently said, “We tell our candidates that they are joining a great team, and they need to contribute to the strength of the team in two ways—personal development and internal referrals. The future of the firm is in their hands, and when they sit in my chair, they will understand why. I tell them to build their networks every day. Use them now to help us get other great staff, and use them later to attract business when their network contacts move to senior roles at clients. I say: start today, it’s one of the best career decisions you can make.”
The bottom line: If you want this culture, your partners and leaders need to be role model for this behavior and cascade it down to staff by being great mentors and making recruiting a top priority.