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Staffing crash course: What are the best indicators of an accountant’s career potential?

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Fall is nearly here, and in addition to the pumpkin lattes, football and foliage, it also signals a time when many accounting firms take a beat to consider their staffing needs. As the weather cools down, consider it a good opportunity to examine a practice’s recruitment plan for the remainder of the year in an effort to on-board top quality talent before the coming busy season.

For more than two years (2012-2014), CPA Trendlines has surveyed practicing accountants on identifying and retaining top talent. According to the most recent results of the ongoing survey on talent strategies, 90% of respondents agree that a personal and professional improvement and education is a key indicator of future success in a new hire. If you’re an accounting professional seeking new employment or a resident accountant eager to hire the best and brightest, the survey offers some insight to the best indicators of long-term career potential.

Survey respondents were asked to identify the most important indicators that determine which accountants are likely to succeed. These were the top 3 most popular:

1. “They are always trying to improve.” The single most important factor for those surveyed was people who are eager to grow professionally. Most employers in any industry would likely agree. An employee who is always trying to do their job better is not only the mark of someone who is committed to their work, but also to the organization that employs them. It’s important to note, though, that an employee excited to learn and grow may not always be the most vocal. Strong staff members can sometimes come in the form of the strong, silent type, as well as those always contributing new ideas at a team meeting.

2. “Clients say good things about them.” In a service-based industry like accounting, it’s obvious why positive client interactions would rank high on an employer’s wish list. Think about the most successful customer service experiences you’ve had in your personal life, and consider applying those traits of that person to your next hire… Is this person friendly without being insincere? Does this person genuinely want to help people? Simply focusing on a potential job candidate who only knows their way around a calculator, but is not very personable will likely not seem accessible to clients.

3. “They increasingly handle the relationship with the client.” Much like the second most popular response, quality interactions with customers are critical. On the employee side, owning a client relationship can be beneficial in managing up to one’s supervisor, as well as forging a tie with the customer that is lasting. At risk of oversimplifying the concept, people like to do business with those that they feel they can trust. Staff will not only serve their clients better by marrying customer service and ownership on the account, but could be even more fulfilled in their own role.

Graph courtesy of CPA Trendlines

Two other indicators that survey respondents ranked highly were those employees that understand the importance of growing the business and bringing in new clients, as well as noting an employee gets others to listen to them.

Could you say that any of these success indicators (or perhaps even all of them) describe you or your top management candidates?

Need more information on how to recruit and retain an A-list team of accountants? Download this complimentary checklist.

tags: accountant, accountants, Accounting, accounting services, CPA, staffing