The Role of the Bookkeeper Job Description in Finding the Best Hire

A pen, eyeglasses and a calculator lie on a bookkeeper's report

A well-crafted bookkeeper job description is crucial for hiring the right financial professionals for this role. If it's an accurate portrayal of the position, a job description is as useful for identifying qualified candidates as it is for eliminating those who lack the skills you need.

Think of the job description as your blueprint. Do a good job of constructing it, and the subsequent parts of the hiring process – evaluating resumes, conducting interviews and selecting candidates – are more likely to fall into place.

Before posting the job, make sure the job description is clear in its requirements. A well-written bookkeeper job description meets the following objectives:

  • States the applicable hiring criteria (e.g., specific skills, degrees or credentials), helping to prevent hiring mistakes

  • Gives candidates a clear idea of what's expected of them if hired

  • Outlines specific enough requirements to deter those who lack the necessary skills from applying for the job

  • Helps the hiring manager determine a competitive pay range based on market value for the various responsibilities of the position

  • Serves as a benchmark for job performance and a reference tool for evaluation after candidates are hired

The secret to writing a solid job description is making sure it accurately describes your job and company – a generic bookkeeper job description won't do. A customized bookkeeper job description is especially important because this role can vary considerably from one organization to another, depending on company size, corporate culture and industry. Job descriptions can also deviate based on whether a company is looking to hire a full-charge bookkeeper (whose role may entail either preparing financial statements or focusing on general ledger activities) or more of a generalist who works on processing accounts payable and receivable.

Here are some additional tips to make the most of the job description:

Remember the essentials. Don't overlook the basic details candidates want to know about a position. Be sure to distinguish between the "must haves" and the "nice to haves" to eliminate any doubt about expectations. For instance, make it clear if a two- or four-year degree is required, or if on-the-job experience might suffice. Also make it clear whether certain knowledge, skills and abilities are preferred or required. In addition, be sure to include information on reporting relationships, soft skills desired, salary range and benefits, and a company description.

Be specific and direct. Write the bookkeeper job description in a way that leaves little open to interpretation. Avoid vague wording, such as familiar with or occasionally. Use bullet points when possible and begin each sentence of the "responsibilities" section with a present-tense action verb. Here are some examples you might give of typical duties:

  • "Processing accounts payable and accounts receivable"

  • "Managing bank and general ledger reconciliations and payroll processing"

  • "Preparing quarterly tax filings"

  • "Posting journal entries"

Be honest. An inaccurate or overblown job description can create false expectations, setting your company up for a hiring mismatch. Hiring mistakes are often the result of job descriptions that overstate or understate what a position entails or reflect expectations that are out of line with a particular role. Make sure you present a candid picture of the job; don't be tempted to candy-coat realities about long hours, the pace of work or other such aspects of the position.

As you develop or revise your bookkeeper job description, you'll be more likely to attract the right candidates if it's clear, comprehensive and honest.