Attracting the Right Talent Starts with Your Accountant Job Description

According to a Robert Half survey, 60 percent of small business owners and managers pinpoint locating skilled workers as their most significant challenge when it comes to hiring and managing staff.

Creating a well thought-out and accurate accountant job description is the first step to finding the skilled professionals you need and avoiding bad hires. It can even help after you bring someone on. Here’s what you need to think about:

Know your target

When you create an accountant job description, make sure it’s as focused as possible. Identify the must-haves for your specific position as well as the increasingly important nice-to-haves. Targeting the right candidates helps ensure you don’t receive piles of irrelevant resumes. That wastes your time and prolongs the hiring process, which our survey shows is not good for your business.

What exactly are you looking for?

When you sit down to write the accountant job description, make sure you include these elements:

1. Job title. Use titles consistent with the accounting industry. Creative job titles (like “accounting ninja”) may be fun to throw around the office, but the official title needs to follow industry use. Candidates are searching online, and no jobseeker ever Googled “finance rock star.” You don’t want to lose out on qualified talent from the get-go.

2. Direct report. Identifying the chain of command lets the candidate know exactly how the role fits into your organization. List the supervisor’s job title and anyone else the candidate will work with on key projects. Also list any positions that will report to him or her.

3. Key responsibilities. This is where candidates determine whether they have the required skills and whether the position is a good fit. Make the list of key responsibilities as clear as possible, so a candidate can get a true sense of what the job is like on a daily basis. Be very specific and include examples if possible. You don’t want to have a “that’s-not-my-job” discussion later.

4. Qualifications. Clearly describe the qualifications needed to perform the job, such as software expertise and education. Include accounting-specific certifications to attract top talent. According to the 2015 Robert Half Salary Guide, the certified public accountant (CPA) is the credential most in demand among accountants, and an MBA is preferred for senior-level corporate accounting and finance positions. But be sure to list any other credential that may prove valuable. Consider the certified information systems auditor (CISA), certified internal auditor (CIA), certified management accountant (CMA), chartered financial analyst (CFA) or chartered global management accountant (CGMA).

List the nonaccounting skills required for the position too. Chief financial officers surveyed by Robert Half value general business knowledge and information technology expertise in addition to accounting know-how. Other soft skills that CFOs find helpful include communication skills, leadership ability and a customer-service orientation.  

5. Expectations. What do you expect from the person you hire for the accounting position? Of course, you need to list short-term objectives and define what an outstanding performance looks like. Also include long-term objectives. An accountant job description that’s too limited doesn’t allow room to grow. Applicants should get a sense of the career path for the position.

6. Compensation. List the salary range, if possible, along with benefits you’re planning to offer. Mention perks that set your firm apart. Having a clear understanding of what you plan to offer can help in negotiating an accountant salary later on.

Finally, don’t scrap that accountant job description once you hire someone. Instead, review it periodically to help your new hire stay on a successful path and to evaluate his or her performance.

What do you consider when creating and using an accountant job description? Let us know in the comments section.