How to hire people for my accounting business

Your accounting business is growing and you need to hire staff. Does the thought of doing this leave you with slightly sweaty palms?

It can certainly be hard to trust a stranger with a business you built from scratch. Not to mention the added stress of knowing that this is serious – staff needs to get paid every month, no exceptions.

If you approach this correctly, it will be a breeze. Here’s how.

Is my business really ready to hire staff?

Once your business is off the ground and growing, you are in a good position to give yourself a little pat on the back. And then, the next challenge awaits.

Soon, you might start noticing that you could do with some extra hands. The following are sure clues that it’s time to consider employees:

  • You are forced to turn clients away.
  • You’ve identified new revenue streams but lack the capacity to take advantage of them.
  • Your workload is becoming too much for you and you are unable to make time to take a break.
  • You need someone with specialised skills.

The challenge that faces you when hiring is a financial one. Isn’t it always? It goes without saying that employees are a considerable expense.

The important thing to realise is that the cost of an employee is more than just their salary. You need to consider the package you will be offering your employees: are benefits included? Overtime and bonuses? 

Also consider payroll taxes, office equipment and software the employee will need. Your new hire will likely not be productive from day one, as it takes time to learn the ropes. Can you afford this? 

Can you invest in your employees by providing sufficient, ongoing training?

The general rule of thumb for hiring is that there should be enough money in your account to carry the costs of employing someone for six months to a year.

How to hire people

How much should you pay your employees?

If you are hiring for the first time, this is a question that can leave you scratching your head. 

Of course you want to offer an attractive salary in order to lure the best candidates, but saving money is another one of your priorities. The matter of determining your salaries is therefore a balancing act.

This balancing act will require you to weigh up factors such as the following: 

  • The prospect’s salary expectations;
  • What they are worth in the market;
  • What they will be worth to your business;
  • What you can afford to pay.

Accounting software company Xero suggests five steps business owners can follow to determine their employees’ salaries. 

  1. Ensure that you have a clear job description

Start with the job title and then continue to make a list of the employee’s duties and responsibilities. Define the skills required in the role. Go as far as determining how much time should be spent on each task.

This information will help you with the second step: researching the market.

  1. Study the market

If you have a good idea of what other businesses are paying employees in similar roles, you will be able to stay within a reasonable bracket.

If you research this online, ensure that you are looking at current information. It’s a good idea to talk to people as well. 

Other business owners, recruitment firms and people who are already working in the position you are thinking of making available will all have valuable input.

Don’t forget to also obtain professional advice regarding the legal requirements of paying salaries to make sure that you are compliant.

  1. What can you afford?

There is no point in putting together a package that will lure top employees if it doesn’t make business sense. Your employees should contribute to your profit, not get you into financial trouble.

Another thing to budget for is annual raises. Speak to your lawyer to ensure the package you offer is reasonable, and doesn’t break any laws.

Then, be prepared to negotiate, as your candidates will have certain expectations, especially in the case of senior positions. Your knowledge of the market will guide you at this point.

Get the most out of the job interview
Job interviews these days are pretty predictable. The candidate will probably go online, research what questions they are likely to get asked, and then research the perfect answers to these questions.

The employer, in the meantime, also went online to find out what questions to ask – and so ends up getting perfectly rehearsed answers.

Why not do something out of the box?

Something that will allow you a real glimpse of what your candidate is all about?

A very simple idea is to take the candidate out for a meal. You can learn a lot about a person in this environment. The idea is to watch how the candidate relates to others, which will tell you if they are a team player.

Pay attention to the following: 
How does the candidate treat the waiter? Is s/he polite and respectful?
Do they look people in the eye?
Do they get irritated quickly if something goes wrong?
Do they have good conversation skills and ask intelligent questions?

10 tips for hiring the right people

An employee that isn’t a good fit for your business can cost you precious time and money. Here’s how to do it right from the start:

  1. Forbes recommends that you create a comprehensive picture of your ideal candidate. What are their attributes, values and what do they care about?
    What kind of skills and experience does this person have? What kind of personality will thrive in the work environment you are offering?
  1. Do not rush your decision. Apart from ensuring you hire someone with the right skills, also make sure that their personality matches your company’s culture. 
  1. Ask about your candidate’s career goals. Do they align with what your business can offer?
  1. It is important to follow a proper vetting process, even though it takes time. Putting in some extra effort now prevents you from hiring the wrong person and having to start the whole process from scratch.
  1. Read through the candidate’s CV in advance. Letting them take you through it wastes time that could be spent on getting additional information about them.
  1. Consider using additional measurement tools such as personality tests and skill-based questionnaires.
  1. Don’t see the interview as a one-sided question-and-answer session. It should be a dialogue in which both sides determine whether you would be a good match.
    Pay attention to the questions your candidate asks and answer them honestly.
  1. Another savvy way to optimise your job interview is to see how your candidate handles the actual work. They can help you brainstorm a new project, or you can give them a small task to complete.
  1. Remember to ask your prospective hire what they are not good at. When they answer, listen out for clues that they are trying to improve by working on their weaknesses.
  1. Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg said that he would only hire someone if he would word FOR that person. This is a good way to establish exactly how comfortable you are with the interviewee.

Once you have chosen which person you will be hiring, you should send them an employment offer letter to sign. 

This letter includes information such as job title and description, who the employee will report to, start date, compensation and the like.

Final takeaway

Once the hiring process is complete, you should inform the unsuccessful candidates that a decision has been made. Many companies neglect this part of the process.

It is only decent to let people know that they did not get the job. Besides, in doing this you build relationships instead of breaking them down, and you show that you always act in a professional manner.

And lastly refer back to your Accounting firm business plan to make sure you are on the correct path as panned.

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