Looking to Hire a Staff Accountant? Start With the Job Description

By Robert Half January 5, 2015 at 7:00am

What's the purpose of a staff accountant job description? For employers, it's where you first formally establish your hiring criteria. It's a valuable recruitment tool, and it puts forth exactly what skills and credentials are needed, as well as the duties of the job of staff accountant.

In addition to setting forth the terms of the position, job descriptions work as an advertisement, meant to attract an audience of ideal candidates to apply for the role. Without a proper job description, employers run the costly risk of making a bad hire out of an unsuitable candidate pool. Therefore, it’s crucial for job descriptions to be as detailed and accurate as possible.

Later, of course, the job description has a different sort of value. Have you ever heard an employee say, "That's not in my job description"? While this may sound like someone not willing to go the extra mile, it's important to note that an accurate job description can help your team members more clearly understand the specifics of what they’re expected to do.

For now, though, let's start with writing the best job description you can. Naturally, you’ll need to include the basics, starting with the job title, supervisor and type of employment. But what other key information do you need on the job description for your new staff accountant?

Education and certifications

This section of the job description tells your candidate what credentials he or she needs before hitting “send” on that application.

Your staff accountant should have a bachelor’s degree, preferably in accounting, although some employers opt for staff accountants with finance degrees.

In the job description, you can also include any optional education, skills or certifications required for the position, such as the CPA or certified management accountant (CMA).

Here's a closer look at the CPA and CMA certifications.

Experience and skills

If the position is higher than entry level, your ideal candidate will need one to three years of accounting experience. He or she will be interacting with multiple departments and colleagues, so strong communication skills are a must. Excel expertise is necessary at any level, as are skills involving time management, attention to detail and technology.

In the job description, you can also include skills and experience required for the position, such as:

  • Advanced software skills or knowledge of the systems your organization uses
  • Experience within your specific industry
  • A history of accounting internships
  • Membership in professional organizations

Staff accountant job duties

In this section, you’ll specify what duties you expect employees to perform on a daily basis. Explanations of duties should be concise and worded with verbs at the front. This will decrease any confusion about what actually needs to be done, because it will clearly state employee responsibilities. Long, complicated sentences increase the risk of key information getting lost or being misconstrued.

An entry-level staff accountant will be required to:

  • Prepare journal entries
  • Help with field work for financial and operational audits
  • Research and correct account discrepancies
  • Reconcile and balance general ledger accounts

More seasoned staff accountants will:

  • Analyze and reconcile internal general ledger accounts and bank statements
  • Maintain the general ledger chart of accounts
  • Help with the evaluation of internal controls
  • Review general ledger accounts
  • Prepare and adjust journal entries
  • Post monthly, quarterly and yearly accruals

To cover the waterfront, some are tempted to include the phrase, “Perform other duties as required.” But that catchall only causes confusion, so it’s best to avoid it.

How does your staff accountant job description stack up? If it’s unclear, reevaluate your needs and the duties of the position before you set out to recruit new talent. Want more hiring tips?

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