Complete Guide to Recruiting Your Accounting Team

The costs of a bad hire can be astronomical. 

Just recruiting, hiring, and onboarding a new employee tends to be a lengthy and expensive process in and of itself. But the total costs multiply several-fold if that person—or persons—turns out to be a poor fit. Cost estimates can range from tens to hundreds of thousands of dollars. 

While you may feel pressure to fill a position, you cannot afford to be hasty. This is especially true when building out your accounting department, which is tasked with the enormous responsibility of monitoring, managing, and controlling an organization’s finances. 

For a process as critical as recruiting accounting team members, you need to get it right—and you need to do so the first time around. This guide will show you how. 

What Types of Accountants Does Your Team Need? 

The ideal makeup and structure of an accounting team will differ from one business to another. Factors like your company size, industry, regulatory requirements, and financial needs will dictate the number and type of accountants your department requires. 

To make wise decisions, business owners must at least have a basic grasp of the inner workings of an accounting department. That includes the various types of accounting roles available and the roles’ organizational hierarchy.

Five of the more common accounting positions include: 

  • Staff accountants – Entry-level accountants who maintain financial reports and ledgers, prepare budgets and handle general bookkeeping tasks. 
  • Certified public accounts (CPAs) – Higher-level accounting professionals who understand GAAP principles and focus on more complex accounting tasks, such as:
    • Accounts payable and receivable
    • Month-end close
    • General ledger reconciliation
    • Transaction coding 
  • Cost accountant – Management accountants who monitor the company’s financial health by preparing and analyzing financial statements. They play a crucial role in facilitating:
    • Budget planning
    • Financial reporting
    • Profitability analysis
    • Risk management
  • Controller – The “top dog” within the accounting department, the financial controller is a senior-level manager who oversees the accounting department’s day-to-day financial operations and reports directly to the company’s CFO. 
  • CFO – Although a CFO is not technically an accountant—nor do they strictly need to have a background in accounting—they are the senior executive who acts as the business financial leader, overseeing both the accounting and the financial planning & analysis department.

Finding the Right Accountant Starts with an Internal Review 

Understanding what accountant your business should hire is impossible if you do not know your company’s specific business accounting needs. To accurately make that determination, you must conduct an internal review of your operations and financial performance. 

Perhaps you are a small business that needs help with basic accounting tasks like billing, accounts payable, bookkeeping, and tax preparation. If so, a bookkeeper or a CPA may be all you require. 

But what if you are a scaling company with outsized accounting and financial planning demands? For instance, you may be preparing for a capital raise. In that case, in addition to lower-level accounting tasks, you would also require the guidance of higher-level accounting and financial professionals capable of conducting risk assessments, financial reporting, budgeting, and forecasting. 

Since every company is unique, to recruit and build the right accounting team, you must first know thyself. 

Finding the Right Fit—Square Pegs And Round Holes

You have undoubtedly heard the phrase, “You cannot cram a square peg into a round hole.” 

When it comes to recruiting, finding the ideal accounting candidate is not just about identifying a person capable of fulfilling the tasks. Chances are, there are plenty of professionals able to satisfy the basic requirements. 

Instead, recruiting a successful accounting team means you cannot settle—you must ask for more from each potential candidate. They need to align with several different organizational factors unique to your business, including: 

  • Company culture 
  • Work style
  • Technical skills and software experience
  • Soft skills
  • Communication 
  • Problem-solving abilities 

Want to improve your recruitment screening mechanisms? 

Start asking questions like “What does successful accounting performance look like?” or, “How will this person fit into the larger fabric of the accounting department?” 

Tips for Recruiting Accountants 

If you want to optimize your recruiting process and improve the likelihood that you end up with the best candidate for the job, follow these steps: 

  • Create an accurate job advertisement – Your recruiting advert must be accurate and enticing to attract qualified candidates. This should include: 
    • An accurate job title 
    • A statement of what the job will entail
    • The job’s description and responsibilities 
    • The qualifications, soft skills, and personality traits of an ideal candidate
    • Location of the job
    • Salary and benefits 
  • Post the job – The more places you can look for qualified candidates, the larger your recruiting pool will be, which increases the odds that you’ll find the best fit. Places you can post the job include: 
    • Internally so that employees can make referrals
    • Social media sites
    • Job boards  
  • Screen candidates – Before you can begin interviewing, you’ll need to narrow down the field of potential recruits. You can make a shortlist by reviewing and discussing their CVs and resume, specifically regarding how those elements align with the role and your department.   
  • Balance the recruitment process – As mentioned, the best accounting candidate should be the ideal balance between capabilities and organizational fit. You can filter through a candidate pool to identify the top applicants by asking the right interview questions and having them perform assessment tests.
  • Recruit aggressively but not recklessly – If you identify qualified candidates that are an ideal fit, be open and confident in your pursuit. That does not mean you should rush, but you should not be coy about your intentions or low-ball if you decide to make an offer.
  • Consider interns – For lower-level accounting roles, it’s often cheaper and easier to train an intern or a person fresh out of college. By investing in them early on, you can mold them to fit perfectly within your system and grow together

Outsourced Accounting Services—The Modern Recruiting Solution

Building out an accounting department isn’t easy, nor is it cheap. Thanks to the ever-increasing demand for qualified accounting professionals, competition can be fierce. And with so much on the line, it’s understandable why hiring may be a daunting undertaking for a business owner, especially as the various roles and responsibilities continue to evolve at a breakneck pace. 

But it doesn’t have to be that way. You can avoid the hassle and risk of hiring in-house altogether by outsourcing your accounting process. There are several benefits to utilizing accounting services, not the least of which is instant access to a team built specifically for the unique needs of your company. 

That’s where the financial and accounting experts at CFO Hub come in. 

Whether you need accounting, month-end close, and back-office support or require the strategic financial guidance of a fractional CFO, we can pair you with the right accounting professional or an entire team of accountants—all without the hassle and costs associated with hiring in-house.  

Want to learn more about expanding your finance and accounting department?

Related:  Is it the Right Time for My Business to Seek a Capital Raise?