Recently I sat down with Kristi Tarantelli and Ben Vassallo of Insero Talent Solutions to discuss the current landscape of accounting recruiting, how it is changing, and how they’ve adapted. Here’s what they had to say:
Sarah Stage: What trends are you currently seeing in accounting recruiting?
Kristi Tarantelli: Overall there aren’t as many students graduating with accounting degrees, or even going into accounting majors so that in itself has made college recruiting more difficult. In addition to that, over the past two years campuses have transitioned to more virtual or hybrid events which make it harder for students to build strong connections with not only also firms, but also with career services and their accounting professors. The market right now is extremely competitive.
Ben Vassallo: With the experienced workforce, what we're finding again is that there are more open positions, but the people that are more inclined to apply, are the ones that are less qualified. We’re also seeing a lot more movement with people being more apt to change jobs after just a year or two. It's definitely more of a candidate market than it is an employer market right now.
Sarah Stage: So how have you been addressing these challenges?
Kristi Tarantelli: We have to be more proactive. It takes more points of contact with each candidate to build that relationship. In addition, we’re continuously seeking out candidates who aren’t necessarily looking, and reaching out to them just to start the networking process so that when they are ready to make a move or we have the right opportunity for them, they’re open to that change.
Ben Vassallo: I definitely agree with Kristi, I would say I’m seeing a transition to where more of the right candidates are the passive candidates, that maybe weren’t looking. It’s all about building those relationships and developing trust with the candidates. Some of the best people I’ve placed have come back to me and said that they appreciated that we weren’t pushing them towards a specific position, just getting to know them as a person and what they want and really matching me with a company and a role that is a good fit. Some recruiters are looking for quantity, but we focus on quality.
Sarah Stage: What are you seeing as the most important factors to candidates right now?
Ben Vassallo: Not so much salary. Yes, salary is important but I’m seeing candidates focus on benefits such as leadership classes, development programs, or continuing education. Also, either a hybrid approach or at least flexibility in their schedule. Those things have always been important, but I’d say now more than ever.
Kristi Tarantelli: When I’m talking to college students, they key word I really hear is flexibility. They’re used to this hybrid lifestyle, even in school, so they want to know what the policies are about working from home and requirements to be in the office or at a client. Culture is also important, having the sense of fitting in is super important to them. They’re used to the college environment and starting a new job at that age can be scary. We often get our best candidates through word of mouth, someone they know has worked there or interned there, letting them know about the company culture and that they really care about their employees. So, for college students, those items are what are attractive, and the benefits package is probably one of the last things they look at. On the flip side, for experienced hires, I think that’s actually one of the things they look at the most – full benefits package, vacation, PTO, holidays, parking, tuition reimbursement, flexible scheduling.
Sarah Stage: Let’s talk about employer branding, what is it and why is it important?
Kristi Tarantelli: In my eyes, employer branding is tied to first impressions. Whether it’s an initial conversation that you have or an initial look at social media that sets the tone for the next steps of the relationship. So, if you’re not showcasing what you are like as an employer, you’re missing that opportunity.
Ben Vassallo: When I’m talking to clients, I ask them “What’s the sell?” Why are your people there as long as they have been, what’s keeping then engaged, what do you offer? Like Kristi said, it’s your first impression, so if you don’t have anything out there, people aren’t going to take you seriously or they’ll look elsewhere. We try to advise clients to take a look at their social media presence, website, job sites like Monster, Glassdoor, or Indeed. It’s important to know what people are posting about your company and what your reputation is online. Word of mouth is also a big one, so it’s important to promote your openings internally so your employees can help spread the word.
Sarah Stage: What would you say are your most important tools or resources in reaching new talent?
Kristi Tarantelli: For college recruiting I think the top resource would be accounting clubs and societies, professors, department heads, and career services teams. Different schools have different structures, so it can vary where the students have their closest relationships, but maintaining those relationships is really important. After that I’d say Handshake is a useful tool which allows us to gain access to more students, they can apply directly or register for events. Most of the schools we work with use Handshake, and I’d say it’s pretty user friendly and nice to have everything in one spot.
Ben Vassallo: LinkedIn is going to be one of the biggest tools for experienced hires. It’s a good tool to use for research and reaching out, but also maintaining contact with past candidates. I get referrals from past candidates because they really enjoyed our process, and they tell their friends.
Kristi Tarantelli: Yes, I would say our referrals are usually the best hires. In addition to past candidates, we seek referrals from our school relationships and alumni, and from our current employees. Employees can even earn a bonus for referring a candidate either for an internal job with the firm or for a placement at one of our clients.
Kristi Tarantelli and Ben Vassallo are accounting recruiting consultants with Insero Talent Solutions, a recruiting and executive search firm and division of Insero & Co. CPAs. They focus on sourcing quality candidates for accounting firms as well as accounting and other professional positions in a variety of industries.
About Sarah Stage
Sarah Stage is Director of Marketing at Insero & Co. CPAs where she focuses on digital marketing strategies for firm growth.