Smaller Firms – Larger Opportunities

, , ,

You’re considered cream of the crop, you’re on the market ready to be given the perfect opportunity; but how do you know you’re making the right choice? Many candidates nowadays do not know or see the potential in certain firms that supply them with offers. Some candidates just see the number of zeros after the dollar sign, but they do not know what each offer has the potential to become—situations like these plague the job market today. Rita Keller, an award-winning and widely respected voice to CPA firm management, observes that “We are facing the hottest job market in decades and high performers are looking for new opportunities.” In other words, top talent are losing out on great prospects because they are not aware of the opportunities that working at a small to mid-sized firm can lead to. “They think a small firm is the 2nd tier firms they might have heard of… firms with 800 or 1,000 people” Rita states, “[We] want graduates to come to smaller firms.” Sometimes smaller firms are off the radar and that’s where firms like Premier Financial Search (PFS) come in. We have been recruiting for seventeen years and cover the local (small, medium and large) and regional firm market.

In order to avoid being overlooked, firms have taken up different recruiting techniques to ensure that they are the favored firm with the most to offer in the future. Techniques such as stressing to top performers that all they need to do is ask if they want something—like more flexibility—or being able to tell your top talent—what happens next, candidates want to know how their development works. Leona May, writer for, states that “Firms need to realize that they cannot retain talent unless young accountants can see a future with the firm.” Another recruiting technique that firms use is to seek the help of a recruiting firm, like PFS. Candidates who work with PFS can gain in-depth knowledge and advice that will help them differentiate one firm from another—client niche, demographic location, firm and partners, and the firm’s succession plan. We also expose the candidates to the top firms that fit their description based on individual candidate wants and needs. For candidates that are not sure of what they want, PFS can expose them to a wide variety of things including different niches within the profession. This is often why firms want to work with us in the recruiting process because we can offer them the best of the best, not only for the firm but for the candidate as well.

Therefore, firms and recruiters also need to be able to tell top candidates:

  • Why you should work for their firm
  • Why you should trust your career to them
  • What the future will look like if you are effective
  • What the firms culture is like

“To be more attractive to this generation, it’s about being a nice place to work,” said Jeff Phillips, co-founder and CEO of accounting job board/network Accountingfly and former advisor to Fortune 500 clients on how to hire better candidates at a lower cost. Factors like “technology, software, and being progressive in how [firms] manage,” according to Phillips, are no longer perks, but are necessary to attract and retain new hires. “Some firms aren’t doing anything and that’s the problem,” Phillips said. “You can’t sell a product until it’s built correctly. Some firms are progressive and some are not, and those who aren’t are going to miss the boat.”

Phillips also advises firms to not just recruit in the moment, but to actively keep track of applicants for the future. As the number of social media and networking tools only continues to grow, there’s no excuse, he argues, for not staying on top of one’s hiring possibilities. “Build pools of talent,” he advised. “Firms only hire a sliver of the people they interact with, yet they’re good enough to work there. Put them in a tracking device, where you can track them for the future. You don’t want to start fresh every time you need to fill a job — you want a database with candidates and start ahead of the game. That’s the best practice I took from working with large corporations.” This idea of keeping track of top candidates is reaffirmed by Rita who states that firms need to be able to track down the best candidates that just weren’t the best pick for the job before, but they are now.

“Employees want more transparency in every aspect of the firm.” Rita continues. This is one of the tasks that PFS does extremely well, supplying candidates with information. From the first phone call letting you know we have a position that you seem great for, to the first day on the job, we are there with you. We give you all the information you need—and even a little more. We help you prepare for your interviews as well as clean up your resume. We provide information such as the person or people who are interviewing you and their background and help you in your salary negotiations. “Take steps to eliminate the mystery about the earnings potential inside your own firm,” she advises, “you don’t have to give them the specific salaries of partners. Give them ranges from the profession. CPA firm partners make a lot of money—give your younger, less experienced accountants hope.”