CPA Growth Trends, Marketing

Seasoned Marketer: Five Out of the Box Recruiting Techniques

The accounting industry has been facing significant challenges in recruiting new talent, despite the growing demand for accounting professionals. According to the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants, fewer people are graduating with accounting degrees than in years past. The situation has been further compounded by the COVID-19 pandemic, which has disrupted traditional recruitment practices and led to a shift toward remote work. As a result, accounting firms are grappling with a shortage of skilled candidates, leading to increased competition and a growing skills gap.

So, what can your firm do to stand out and attract top talent?

Bill Stec, Manager of Recruitment & Campus Relations at Yeo & Yeo, says, “Recruiting is about relationships. Every day, I’m having conversations with representatives from universities across Michigan, as well as college students and alums. Building a talent pipeline means creating connections and nurturing them.”

Stec joined Yeo & Yeo in 2022 after seven years in college career services. Since taking the reins on recruiting, he has completely redefined Yeo & Yeo’s recruiting strategy, bringing new ideas and a fresh perspective.

“From my experience in higher education, I have learned what works and does not work by engaging with the students. It’s important to listen to what they want and to follow the trends, which change constantly,” said Stec. “Students want more than just a lecture. They want to get a sense of the company’s culture, meet staff and see themselves succeeding in their careers. It’s my job to offer these opportunities.”

To enhance your recruitment strategy, consider these five unconventional techniques Yeo & Yeo has implemented in the past year.

  1. Host an open house. Invite faculty and career service professionals from nearby universities to come to your office and learn about your services and career opportunities for students and grads. Universities are always looking to improve their placement rates for graduates, so inviting university leaders to your office and connecting them with available career opportunities can be mutually beneficial.
  2. Invite students to the office. In addition to inviting faculty, consider hosting an open house for students, whether high school or college level. If you’re concerned about attendance, ask contacts if they would be willing to host the event during regular class times. Instead of attending a lecture, students can gain hands-on experience and learn more about their field of study while also gaining insight into your company and open positions.
  3. Offer on-campus training. Reach out to career service contacts at local universities and colleges and see if they would be interested in soft-skills training for their students. Topics can range from interview preparation to dining etiquette and appropriate dress. While these trainings might not provide a direct opportunity to solicit recruits, they do raise name awareness and put your company in front of potential candidates.
  4. Offer a leadership program. Leadership programs are typically one to two-day events where undergraduate students can experience a day in the life of a CPA, meet with your staff and learn about your culture. These programs provide a unique opportunity for you to pre-screen candidates and see how they would fit with your current staff. They often include outings or team-building activities, which give you a chance to showcase the fun side of your firm and set it apart from others.
  5. Send your interns on a retreat. Sending your current interns on a fun outing or retreat can help them build stronger relationships with each other and with the organization. In turn, making them more likely to stay with the firm if there is an opportunity post-graduation.

“When I joined Yeo & Yeo, my goals were to increase the brand awareness of this amazing firm to all the colleges and universities in Michigan,” Stec said. “I wanted to grow the internship and summer leadership program, along with building our retention. Today, instead of recruiting from just four or five schools, we are going to fifteen plus. This last school year, we participated in nearly ninety campus events, from employment fairs, networking events, classroom presentations and guest speakers at larger events, to name a few. And we are just getting started.”

The accounting industry will likely continue to face challenges in recruiting. While the strategies suggested by Bill Stec and other industry experts can help firms stand out and attract skilled candidates, there are broader factors at play that could continue to impact recruitment. However, it’s important to note that the industry has faced recruitment challenges in the past and has been able to adapt and overcome them. With innovative thinking and a willingness to try new approaches, firms can continue to attract top talent and build a strong workforce for the future.

About Taylor Bartosiewicz

Welcome to CPA Growth Trends — your source for information, insights, tools and best practices to drive growth within an accounting firm.

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