Struggling with Recruiting? Here’s How Marketing Can Help

You’ve heard the angst among colleagues, and you might be experiencing it yourself: staff recruitment and retention is a bigger challenge right now than it’s been for a long time. The last survey from National Management of an Accounting Practice (MAP) revealed that staffing issues – both recruitment and retention – is a #1 concern facing the majority of firm leaders. According to Thomson Reuters Institute, commenting on last year’s Rosenberg Survey results, “The growing pressure that labor issues are exerting on the accounting industry are being keenly felt even as firms are simultaneously trying to create a positive work environment and minimize burnout in order to retain top talent.” It’s hard to think about firm growth when you’re crunched getting through your current client workload! Many CPA firms and financial advisory firms aren’t as concerned with bringing in new clients right now as they are with bringing in new staff to help service existing clients.

We all know marketing impacts business development efforts, but it also impacts everyone coming into contact with your firm, including potential new employees. Often accounting firm partners and financial advisory firm leaders overlook the incredible value their marketing strategy can be in helping them recruit and retain rockstar employees.

How Can Marketing Help?

Based on our experience, we have seen how marketing can truly help with recruiting efforts. Here are several way marketing can make a difference in finding and keeping rockstars:

Connect Your Recruiting Committee with Your Marketing Team

We’ve often seen that many accounting firms keep their recruiting and marketing committees separate. However, we have found that firms experiencing the most success with their recruiting efforts are the ones where recruiting and marketing teams work together toward the shared goal of recruiting rockstars. The recruiting team can provide valuable insight and direction, while the marketing team smooths the way to ensuring that the firm is attracting the rockstar employees the firm wants and needs. The magic really starts to happen when the two teams work together in support of each other.

Identify and Highlight Your Firm’s Culture

A firm’s culture matters now more than ever. If you haven’t already done so, clarify your firm’s culture and the unique aspects to potential hires. Your values and the attitudes, behaviors and traditions in your workplace are the key to what sets you apart and give you an edge over your competitors. Many CPA firms fall into the trap of treating their people like calculators or number crunchers instead of real people. A common complaint of accountants is that they aren’t treated like actual human beings in the workplace. CPA firms where people want to come to work have a culture that understands and appreciates everyone. So, showcase the amazing ways your firm leads, trains, mentors and celebrates your current employees. Younger employees are looking for firms that offer things like flexible work environments, personal development opportunities, business development training, clear advancement opportunities, and mentorship programs. Sharing the unique ways your firm takes care of its employees will help you concisely communicate these key attributes to potential recruits. Sharing this information on a consistent basis will help elevate your firm’s reputation for being good to employees. As your reputation grows, you may find that you receive many more applications for open positions than you once did. The quality of candidates applying for these positions may also improve, giving you a chance to hire the best of the best.

Get Creative!

We all know that first impressions matter. The key to recruiting rockstars is to ensure your branding and content are enticing – across all of your channels. For starters, is your website fresh and innovative, or is it stale and outdated? Having a website that attracts rockstar recruits is essential to your strategy. While attractive branding on your website is a great start, creativity really needs to flow all the way through your website, paying special attention to your recruiting page. Using creative content is important not only on your website careers page, it’s also extremely important that your recruiting ads feature compelling and exciting language. Is your recruiting team able to write enticing recruiting ad content and/or great content for your firm’s career page? If not, you may want to consider hiring a content writer or marketing agency to help you. Consider stretching your firm’s marketing efforts in a way that is more creative – potentially updating your firm’s brand and website so recruits will see that your firm is innovative and relevant.

Gather Input from Your Current Employees

Interview your existing staff to see what they enjoy most about working at your firm. Ask them how they describe their work environment to others – what stands out? What would they like to be different? They may name aspects that you haven’t even considered. Asking your current employees for feedback is important for two reasons; it provides you with valuable insight on what your employees really think about your firm (good and bad) and secondly it also helps them feel heard and validated. If you’re not willing to listen to employees and find out what they want, why should you expect them to remain with your firm? Once you know what they want, you can make changes that will help improve your firm’s culture. Asking for feedback has another benefit, too. Employees who feel validated and heard are more likely to remain loyal to your firm. This means you will spend less time and resources on hiring new employees and training them. The savings should not be the main goal here, but they are a benefit that directly impacts your bottom line, and that can be important.

Maximize Your Digital Marketing Efforts

Prospective employees, in addition to clients, will vet your website and social channels for fresh, engaging content. Start by laying out a strategy for highlighting your firm’s culture and values on your website and through targeted social channels. This could look like sharing photos from your staff volunteer day or picnic, showing samples of client work, or staff bios which include ways they give back to the community or industry. Highlight your culture and values clearly and explicitly. Include details on who your staff is aside from listing workplace duties and accomplishments. There is room for both things; you can’t have only one without the other. Accountants want to know the facts and figures of a company, but don’t forget to go beyond that. Discuss expanding the types of content and frequency of your posts. Then engage with the community – respond to comments and messages, follow referral partners, and repost their relevant content.

Showcase Your Current Employees

Consider incorporating photos and quotes from your current employees on your careers page and on social media posts. Create posts that feature your staff both at the office and at home, in videos showing fun events at work, posts and videos showing the firm volunteering or giving back and highlighting the ways you support staff in their personal life and career development. Don’t make potential hires scour your social media and wonder what it’s like working for your firm – show them through quotes, examples, pictures and videos. Demonstrate how staff feel included and a part of things. Highlight the ways your firm’s leadership interacts with everyone at the firm – not just with other partners. We all feel more engaged and invested in our employment when we are known and appreciated, so if you’re not yet offering many staff activities and unique benefits, pause and think about where you can start. And don’t forget to include your younger staff members in your recruiting process. They can often bring a fresh insight to your strategies as well as to your interview process in general.

The First Step is the Hardest

Designate a person (if you’re a small firm), form a marketing committee, and/or hire a marketing firm to help you create and implement your recruiting strategy. Even more importantly, don’t put off starting your plan! Developing and implementing a solid recruiting/retention marketing strategy takes deliberate effort, but the sooner you can start the sooner you will begin to see payoffs.

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