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The Importance Of Differentiating Your Firm To Attract The Best People

In Sydney alone there are something like 500, 2-5 partner accounting firms, specialising in business services.

The probability your average senior accountant will know much about many of them is low.

Why would they?

Now consider for a second that accepting a job offer IS a buying decision.

In its simplest terms as an employee of a business you are exchanging your time in return for resources and money.

Where it gets a little more interesting from a candidates perspective is when you start considering all the other factors of a job offer like:

  • How is accepting this offer going to affect my ability to earn more money in the future?
  • What about training and development?
  • Is the type of work I’ll be doing making me more or less employable etc?
  • Am I going to be challenged on a day to day basis?
  • What are the working conditions like compared with other opportunities?

In short, as an employer, you need to be asking yourself:

  • What is most important to the people I want to hire?
  • How is your offer better than the next best available alternative?

Assuming you have worked out exactly what it is your ideal employee wants and know how to deliver it, you need to tell people about it.

This is where a number of 2-5 partner firms are missing out on some excellent people.

How Candidates Asses Opportunities in Professional Services

The process most candidates will go through in assessing an opportunity prior to attending an interview will be:

  • Speak with a recruiter about the position/apply to an advertisement;
  • Review the firm’s website;
  • Have a look on LinkedIn to see if they know someone who knows someone;
  • Ask the recruiter’s opinion about the clients they work on, systems, culture etc.

Why is this a problem for most 2-5 partner accounting firms?

Good candidates will have up to 10 positions put in front of them;

Most candidates will be speaking with 2 recruiters;

They are not going to agree to attend 10 interviews;

Recruiters are, for better or worse, sales people and where there are sales people there is incentive based bias.

Even if you are working with the best most impartial recruiter in the world, what if they miss something that is important to the person you want to hire? What if there is a misunderstanding in how something was communicated during the interview process?

Further to this, consider that in the majority of cases (up to 81% according to a recent study on Social Times) before even speaking with a sales person consumers will research a product or service.

If you give the people you want to hire the information they need to go away and think about the opportunity with your firm independent of a recruiter, it stands to reason that you are improving the probability of attracting better staff.

To illustrate, the process I would want a potential hire to go through prior to attending an interview would be:

  • Speak with a recruiter / apply to a position;
  • Review a brief standard document on what it’s like to work for the firm. Some things to consider may include: hours of work – investment in training and development – the type of work your firm does – systems – testimonies from current and past employees – additional benefits, including social and other activities;
  • Review firms website;
  • Discuss the opportunity with recruiter/hiring manager to clarify any questions concerns;
  • Review brief standard document again with mentor/family and make a decision;

The benefits would be:

  • Differentiating your opportunity from the other 9 good candidates are presented with will be easier;
  • More people you want to hire will want to meet with your business;
  • It gives candidates the opportunity to ask more meaningful questions during the interview process;
  • Should those people receive multiple offers, they have all the information they need to go away and make a decision;
  • People will accept the position with your firm for the right reasons;
  • You will improve staff retention because new hires will know exactly what they are getting themselves in for;
  • Not many firms do this!

In future posts I’ll be writing more about what candidates are telling us they want out of a firm as well as what some of the great things some firms are offering and running through examples of the simple steps you can take to do the same.

Follow Ford Peterson on LinkedIn to keep up to date with posts like these. If you are actively looking for your next job, check out our Candidate Resource Centre which covers off on most things from CV writing to interview success guides.



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