Hiring a Staff Accountant? The Job Description Is Key

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When your department is down a staff accountant, everyone has to work harder.

From handling accounts payable and accounts receivable to taking care of journal entries and general month-end accounting duties, the extra tasks begin to add up in a hurry. That means you'll need to find a replacement as soon as possible. How can you find the right person most efficiently? It all rests on a solid staff accountant job description.

When an accurate job description is used as the basis of the job posting, it will make the hiring process and subsequent onboarding go much more smoothly. The job description offers a snapshot of an open position: the duties involved, the experience and educational requirements needed and the personal attributes necessary for success. It also:

  • Gives candidates a clear idea of what's expected of them if hired
  • Helps the hiring managers review resumes and evaluate candidates
  • Offers a performance benchmark after candidates are hired
  • Helps prevent hiring mistakes

Consider working with a finance and accounting recruiter for expert hiring help.

When hiring for a position such as staff accountant, the job description becomes especially important because the role can vary considerably from one organization to another, depending on company size, corporate culture and industry. The secret to creating a solid job description is to make sure it accurately describes your job and company — a generic staff accountant job description won't do.

Here are some additional suggestions for developing a solid staff accountant job description:

Keep it focused

The best job descriptions are easy to understand and reflect a sense of priorities. Aim to capture the primary and essential duties of the job, rather than giving a laundry list of occasional duties or ones that are sometimes associated with a staff accountant position. Present duties in a way that enables candidates to visualize the role and determine whether they can see themselves truly fitting into the position.

Get more tips on how to write an accurate job description.

Don't recycle

In the rush to fill positions, managers sometimes fall back on existing job descriptions or previous job ads. But consolidation of duties and technology advancements may have caused some accounting duties and requirements to change. Keep in mind, too, that you want the job description to be forward-looking. You're not just filling a vacant position but are trying to strategically satisfy your company's changing needs. Be sure to seek input from key employees who will work alongside the new hire. They can help you fine-tune the job description as far as including key requirements and responsibilities for the position.

Be realistic

A staff accountant job description shouldn't read like one for a C-level financial executive. Hiring mistakes are often the result of job descriptions that overstate or understate what a position entails, or that state expectations that are out of line with the typical skill set of candidates for a particular role. For instance, it might be nice, but not essential, to hire a staff accountant who has earned the CPA credential. The truth is you may have a difficult time attracting someone with a CPA for a staff accountant position. You could, however, say something like, "Ideal candidate will be motivated to acquire further accounting education."

Also, make sure you present a candid picture of the job, whether it sounds positive or negative — for example, "good potential for advancement" or "periodic deadlines require long hours."

Cover the bases

Don't leave out other key elements of the position that applicants will want to know. These include: required education, experience, knowledge and skills; reporting relationships; intangible attributes desired; and salary range and benefits.

A job description is a lot like a building blueprint. If you take the time up front to carefully construct it, you'll make the rest of the project — in this case, the hiring process — go much more smoothly and efficiently. And that means you may be able to bring a new staff accountant on board long before a vacancy can harm productivity or morale.

Find out why attracting the right talent starts with your accountant job description.


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