5 Tips for Enhancing Your Graduate Recruitment Strategy
September 09 2021 • 3 min read
Is our profession less attractive than it once was? After all, the hiring of accounting graduates by accounting firms has declined nearly 30 percent in recent years – and not because CPA firms aren’t prioritizing attracting top college graduates!
In fact, the opposite is true. Graduates are an integral part of every firm’s recruitment strategy, but the great ones have their pick of offers when entering the job market.
If you’re wanting to lure more of the top-caliber talent to your firm, ask yourself:
- What methods does my firm use to create awareness that it’s is a great place for new accounting grads to land?
- Is our website and social media presence up to date, engaging, and fresh?
- Do we show entry-level employees the money?
- Do we give them obvious room to grow as they progress in their careers?
If your answers are “Not sure”, “Don’t think so”, “Maybe” and “Maybe”, that’s a problem.
Today’s workers have different expectations than those of the past. And without a solid game plan, carefully tailored to attract the top prospects in the graduating class, your pipeline of new auditors and analysts could dry up – or you could make bad hires.
Here are the 5 basic hygiene factors when it comes to attracting promising talent:
1. Invest in social media engagement
In Generation Z, which is home to your prospective candidates, a smartphone is another limb. Find out which social media networks your target hires are using, get onto them, and engage. One-way message broadcasting isn’t going to cut it. You need to be having conversations. Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter are the obvious platforms, but don’t forget to leverage YouTube, Instagram, Snapchat and TikTok.
How are smart firms staying ahead of the game? By actively nurturing their brand and core values. For example, you might share photos of your office (if it’s open!), with images of employees working and playing cohesively. Explain what’s being shown.
2. Own your company’s online reputation
Generation Z looks at reviews for everything – whether they’re having a burger at a restaurant, buying a pair of earphones or choosing a professor.
Know this: They’re also reviewing your Glassdoor profile, and similar sites, to see what previous employees have said about their experiences of working for your firm. You can’t control the reviews, but you can listen, take heed and respond. A negative review is not ideal, but a non-response is worse… and harder to come back from.
3. Remember old-fashioned networking
Gen Z does look up from the phone occasionally. And when they do, they want to meet people. They value interpersonal communication and they definitely pay attention to who’s on campus. So always accept an invitation to be a guest speaker during an accounting class or for a club – or reach out to target schools to ask for these opportunities. Participate in job fairs. Get students’ phone numbers and follow up with a text sequence. Sponsor student group events. The more active and visible you are, the more opportunities you’ll have for building relationships. Gen Z loves relationships.
4. Act fast to snatch up the top people
Too many employers are late to the party because they take entirely too long to make their offer to top grads. It may be time to re-engineer your processes in order to expedite recruiting. For instance, aim to identify the individuals who demonstrate a solid work ethic and non-technical skills, who understand GAAP and who fit your corporate culture. Nearly everything else can be learned by the graduates once they’re hired.
Remember, too, that internships work well as a recruiting strategy. An effective internship program will attract ambitious and talented students with fundamental leadership potential. You can assess their on-the-job behaviour and effectiveness and offer a full-time position while they’re still in your firm. And if promising interns do leave, stay in contact – so your firm is top of mind when decision time comes round.
(What if you don’t currently have an internship system? Think about implementing one. The research shows that future graduates search for firms with attractive internships.)
5. Offer both growth and attractive compensation.
Job hopping is here to stay, and some employees will leave after a year. But most job seekers don’t look for disposable positions for the sake of it. They seek a company that will provide a roadmap for advancement and development. In practice, this may involve guiding them to get their CPA or providing learning and mentorship along the way.
You already know that a strong (above-average) base salary, benefits, and other incentives really, really help. What’s more, when companies try to save a couple thousand dollars on an offer, they’re more likely to lose out to a LinkedIn headhunter.
Graduates will consider a lower salary if the overall package is right. So if you’re a regional or smaller public accounting firm, and you simply can’t shower them in hundred dollar bills, highlight your flexibility in key areas like scheduling, remote work, and local community involvement — all of which resonate deeply with Gen Z.
Bottom line? Today’s students and entry-level auditors are looking for employers who will help them find their way. Show that you can give them what they’re looking for.