4 Ways to Hire the Best Payroll Clerk for Your Company

payroll week cartoon

As your company grows, so does its payroll. And as its payroll grows, so does the need to hire a payroll clerk.

That’s a nice sentiment for National Payroll Week every September, but in today’s job market, it may be easier said than done. Unemployment rates for payroll clerk jobs are low — 2.0 percent for the second quarter of 2016, compared with 4.9 percent overall, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics — which can put a damper on your ability to hire one. So what can you do?

Follow these four ways to hire the best payroll clerk for your company:

1. Identify the technical and personal skills for the job 

First create a job description that accurately reflects the knowledge and core competencies you need for this position. Payroll clerks typically carry out data entry tasks, reconcile time cards, distribute paychecks and create statements, so math and analytical skills are useful.

Also consider the soft skills you want your payroll clerk to have. What kind of personality and work style will fit in best with your workplace culture? Will the person in this position be expected to respond to employee and vendor inquiries regarding payroll?   

When you interview, ask what kind of payroll tasks the candidate has performed in the previous job and how much time was devoted to payroll on the job. Know that at some companies, payroll is combined with other job duties, such as implementing new systems, handling quarterly tax returns and administering retirement plans. Another payroll clerk candidate may have twice as many years on the job but worked full time on data entry. You’ll have to decide which kind of experience will work best for your company.

2. Offer training on your payroll system and elsewhere  

Yes, it would be easier to hire someone who already knows the ins and outs of your particular payment processing system. But system experience may not be as important as the ability to learn it, because needs and the tools you use to address them can change over time. You can have your system provider or other staff members train your new payroll clerk. It could mean the difference between a candidate you really like accepting a job with you or with another company.

Also consider offering mentoring, career advancement, and a route to gaining credentials. In payroll, college degrees may not be as valuable as payroll certifications, such as the Fundamental Payroll Certification (FPC) or Certified Payroll Professional (CPP). Both credentials are offered by the American Payroll Association (APA), which sponsors National Payroll Professionals Week.

Consider these suggestions as retention efforts, and don't forget to Give Props to Your Payroll Peeps

3. Get help bringing in a temporary payroll clerk

Keep in mind that not every payroll clerk needs to be full time. You can enlist the help of a specialized finance and accounting staffing service to find you a payroll clerk to work on an interim, part-time or full-time basis — or in a temp-to-hire arrangement.

That way, the staffing agency conducts the interviews and skills evaluations, and handles the details of hiring a payroll clerk who can start adding value right away, saving you time, money and hassle.

Find out more by reading this post: When a Temporary Payroll Clerk Can Be Your Staffing Solution

4. Attract candidates with pay, benefits and perks

Starting pay for payroll clerks is going up in the year to come — from 3.3 to 3.6 percent, depending on the size of the company — according to Robert Half's latest Salary Guide for Accounting and Finance.

Payroll clerks at small companies (up to $25 million in revenue), for instance, can expect to make from $34,500 to $43,750 in 2017, and from $38,750 to $50,250 at large companies ($250 million and up).

Visit the Salary Center, where you'll be able to adjust salaries for payroll jobs in your city with the Salary Calculator, and get your own copy of the Salary Guide.

When the talent pool is as shallow as it is now, you might also consider recruiting payroll talent by offering nontraditional benefits and perks. You may be able to attract the best payroll professionals by offering them work-life balance programs such as flexible work schedules, telecommuting, educational assistance, parental leave and additional vacation time.

Robert Half’s Demand for Skilled Talent report sheds light on current employment trends. This includes the fact that 33 percent of professionals recently interviewed feel they don’t get enough vacation time. And 31 percent of respondents say they would prefer to work for a company with a business-casual dress code. Maybe you can do something about that.

What workplace perk tops employees’ wish lists? The Answer May Surprise Managers

Whatever you do, don’t settle for less than what you want and need. A bad hire may cost your business more than you realize. And don't wait too long to hire. Timing, according to a Robert Half survey, can make the difference between securing the candidate and losing out. 

Remember, payroll is a critical task for your company, and a talented payroll clerk can be just what you need to keep your company moving ahead.

When you're ready for to bring on a payroll clerk ...


Call Accountemps at 1.844.653.5172


More resources on payroll clerks