Finding the right bookkeeper is crucial for your business. A good job description for a bookkeeper is your starting point. But what comes next? Our guide takes you through the hiring process, step by step. We cover everything from identifying your specific needs to detailed background checks. Use this roadmap to find the bookkeeper who truly fits your business needs.
Responsibilities & Role of a Bookkeeper
At the core of any thriving business is a bookkeeper—a financial custodian who juggles a myriad of responsibilities. While you’re likely familiar with the essentials, let’s quickly revisit what exactly you’re seeking in this key role.
- Financial Record-Keeping: They record all financial transactions to keep your data accurate and transparent.
- Bank Reconciliation: Bookkeepers align bank statements with internal records, flagging discrepancies to prevent financial hiccups.
- Expense Tracking: They monitor all expenditures, big or small, ensuring you stick to your budget.
- Payroll Management: From calculating salaries to handling tax withholdings, they make sure your employees are paid correctly and on time.
- Reporting: They condense financial data into clear reports, offering you actionable insights for business growth.
In essence, a bookkeeper is more than a numbers whiz; they’re a guardian of your financial well-being. Keep this in mind as you navigate the hiring landscape.
How to Hire a Bookkeeper
Hiring the right bookkeeper is crucial for the financial well-being of your company. The ideal candidate should not only be proficient in managing your books but also be aligned with the goals and growth trajectory of your business. Here’s a step-by-step guide to make sure you hire the right bookkeeper.
1. Define Your Bookkeeper Needs
Before diving into the hiring process, it’s important to recognize what you’re looking for in a bookkeeper.
Given the rapidly evolving landscape of financial technology, consider whether you require someone well-versed in cloud-based accounting software or specialized bookkeeping tools that integrate with e-commerce platforms if your business operates online. Are you looking for a bookkeeper to simply manage transactions and provide monthly financial reports, or do you need someone who can also offer in-depth financial analysis to aid in business decisions?
Being clear about these needs will not only help you find a suitable candidate but also ensure that the bookkeeper you hire can meet the specific challenges and opportunities within your business landscape.
2. Search for Top Talent
When it comes to hiring a bookkeeper, don’t just rely on mainstream job portals. Here are some profession-specific strategies to consider:
- Industry-Specific Job Boards: Websites such as AccountingTodayJobs and iHireAccounting are tailored for accounting and bookkeeping jobs. Use our bookkeeper job description template to post on these platforms to attract qualified candidates.
- Freelancing Platforms Specializing in Finance: Platforms like Toptal and Upwork’s Finance & Accounting section can connect you to freelance bookkeepers who are experts in their field.
- Professional Associations: The National Association of Certified Public Bookkeepers (NACPB) and the American Institute of Professional Bookkeepers (AIPB) often have job boards or networking events specific to the industry.
- Recruitment Agencies Specializing in Finance: Firms like Robert Half specialize in placing finance and accounting professionals and can help you find a candidate with the exact skill set you’re looking for.
By focusing on these specific channels, you are more likely to find a candidate who is not only qualified but also experienced in the unique demands of bookkeeping as it pertains to your industry.
We have provided a detailed breakdown of the potential cost involved in the recruitment stage and more further down the article, so keep reading.
3. Looking for Professional Qualifications
When you’re hiring a bookkeeper, certifications can serve as a reliable gauge of a candidate’s competency and commitment to professional standards. Here are some certifications to look for when hiring a bookkeeper:
- Certified Public Bookkeeper (CPB): Offered by the National Association of Certified Public Bookkeepers, this certification is a comprehensive indicator of proficiency in bookkeeping and is recognized nationally.
- Certified Management Accountant (CMA): Though not strictly for bookkeepers, a CMA designation indicates a mastery of management accounting skills and is offered by the Institute of Management Accountants.
- QuickBooks ProAdvisor Certification: Given that QuickBooks is a widely-used bookkeeping software, a certified QuickBooks ProAdvisor is trained to manage all its features effectively.
- FreshBooks Certification: If your business uses FreshBooks for accounting, hiring someone with this certification ensures that they are familiar with this specific tool.
- Xero Certified Advisor: Xero is another popular accounting software. A Xero Certified Advisor has demonstrated a high level of expertise in using the software and usually has access to a network of other Xero professionals.
Looking for these certifications will not only provide an additional layer of assurance regarding the candidate’s skills but will also ensure they can handle the specific accounting software that your business uses.
Make sure to validate any certifications claimed by candidates through the issuing organization to ensure credibility.
4. Analyze Their Work Experience
The experience a bookkeeper brings to the table can be a decisive factor in how well they will fit into your business. Here’s what to focus on:
- Industry Relevance: A bookkeeper who has previously worked in your industry will have a quicker learning curve when it comes to understanding your specific accounting needs, regulatory requirements, and common practices.
- Tenure and Roles: Look at the length of service at past jobs. A stable work history often indicates reliability and competence. Additionally, evaluate the roles they’ve held; a bookkeeper with experience in managerial roles may bring the ability to oversee a team if that’s a need for your business.
- Specialized Experience: If your business model has unique requirements such as international transactions, e-commerce, or inventory management, check if the candidate has experience in these specific areas.
- Software Proficiency: Match their software skills with what your company uses. If they have only used traditional accounting software but your company has moved to a cloud-based system, evaluate if they are adaptable to new technology.
Past work experience can often be the most telling indicator of how well the candidate will adapt to your specific business needs.
5. Conduct a Comprehensive Interview Process
The interview process is crucial in hiring a bookkeeper as it provides a platform for you to probe deeper into the qualifications and characteristics that make the candidate suitable for your company. Here are some bookkeeper-specific interview approaches:
- Technical Assessments: Consider asking the candidate to solve some basic bookkeeping problems on the spot or prepare a simple financial report. This will test their technical skills in real time.
- Software Skills: Given that different bookkeeping software have unique features, you can ask how the candidate performs specific tasks in the software your company uses, be it QuickBooks, Xero, or another platform.
- Regulatory Compliance: Pose scenario-based questions that test the candidate’s understanding of tax codes and other financial regulations that are relevant to your industry.
- Error Handling: Inquire about a time when they’ve caught a significant error in financial records and how they managed it. This will give you insights into their attention to detail and problem-solving skills.
- Industry-Specific Questions: If your business operates within a specialized industry like healthcare, retail, or manufacturing, ask the candidate about their experience with industry-specific financial transactions and compliance requirements.
- Reconciliation Proficiency: Ask about their experience in reconciling bank statements or managing accounts payable and receivable. These are regular tasks for bookkeepers and can reveal much about their routine skills.
- Client Confidentiality: Make sure to discuss confidentiality to gauge their understanding and commitment to this critical aspect of bookkeeping.
By focusing on these profession-specific criteria during the interview, you can better assess the candidate’s capability to meet the unique bookkeeping needs of your business.
6. Cross-Verify Their References and Conduct Background Verification
Once you’ve narrowed down your options, conducting a thorough reference and background check is essential to ensure the credibility and reliability of the bookkeeper you’re considering. Given the sensitive nature of the work involved in bookkeeping, this step is critical and should be highly specific to the profession.
- Financial Reliability: Given that the candidate will have access to sensitive financial information, it might be advisable to perform a credit check, in accordance with legal guidelines, to gauge their financial reliability.
- Professional References: Contact past employers and clients to inquire about the candidate’s performance, reliability, and ethical stance. Ask specific questions that relate to bookkeeping tasks, such as their ability to meet deadlines, accuracy in financial reporting, and familiarity with compliance standards.
- Software Verification: If the candidate claimed proficiency in specific accounting software during the interview, you could ask references about their skill level and performance using those tools.
- Confidentiality Compliance: Given the sensitive nature of the financial data a bookkeeper handles, it’s crucial to confirm the candidate’s past adherence to client confidentiality rules and data protection regulations.
- Certification Verification: Don’t just take the candidate’s word for their qualifications. Contact the issuing bodies of any certifications they claim to have to verify their validity.
- Legal Background Check: Given that bookkeepers often handle funds directly, a criminal background check can offer additional assurance that the candidate is trustworthy.
Skipping or skimping on the reference and background check can lead to costly mistakes in the long run. A thorough vetting process, specifically tailored to the bookkeeping profession, can save your company time and money and provide peace of mind as you make your hiring decision.
Tips for Avoiding Red Flags During the Hiring Process
The hiring process for a bookkeeper comes with its own set of potential pitfalls. Being aware of red flags can save you from making a costly hiring mistake. Here are some profession-specific tips for avoiding common red flags:
- Lack of Relevant Certifications: In the bookkeeping profession, having no certifications could be a red flag. At least a basic certification like Certified Public Bookkeeper (CPB) can signify a dedication to the profession and a minimum standard of expertise.
- Hesitancy in Providing References: Any reluctance to offer professional references or documented proof of past work can be concerning, given the sensitive nature of the work involved in bookkeeping.
- Unfamiliarity with Industry-Specific Regulations: If the candidate lacks knowledge of financial regulations and compliance standards that are particular to your industry, consider this a significant red flag.
- Overemphasis on Autonomy: While independence is generally good, an overemphasis on wanting to work without oversight can be a red flag, given that bookkeeping often requires collaborative decision-making, especially when it comes to financial strategy and compliance.
- Avoidance of Detailed Discussion About Error Handling: Given that bookkeeping involves meticulous attention to detail, avoidance of discussing how they handle errors or inconsistencies can be a potential warning sign.
By being vigilant for these profession-specific red flags, you can increase the likelihood of making a well-informed decision, ensuring that the bookkeeper you hire is not only competent but also a trustworthy and valuable addition to your team.
Bookkeeper Job Description
Here’s a comprehensive bookkeeper job description template:
Job Title: Bookkeeper
Location: [City, State] or [Remote]
Position: Full-Time / Part-Time / Contract
Salary: [Specify Salary or Range]
We are [Company Name], a forward-thinking company committed to offering comprehensive financial services to our diverse clientele. With a culture rooted in integrity, innovation, and collaboration, we pride ourselves on creating a work environment where employees can grow both professionally and personally. Operating in the [Industry], we are dedicated to ensuring financial clarity and fiscal responsibility for all our stakeholders.
We are currently seeking a skilled and dedicated Bookkeeper to join our finance department. This position offers a unique opportunity to be an integral part of our dynamic team, responsible for maintaining accurate financial records, ensuring compliance, and contributing to the company’s strategic goals. The role comes with the chance to work in an enriching environment, with a focus on professional growth and continuous learning.
What You’ll Do:
- Maintain and update financial records, including ledgers, journals, and financial statements.
- Reconcile bank statements and manage accounts payable/receivable.
- Prepare and submit weekly/monthly reports, including income statements and balance sheets.
- Collaborate with the finance team to streamline accounting functions and operations.
- Ensure compliance with state and federal regulations, including tax filing and reporting.
- Conduct monthly audits to identify and correct discrepancies.
- Provide in-depth financial analysis to aid in business decisions, budget preparation, and forecasting.
- Handle confidential information with utmost integrity and professionalism.
What You’ll Bring:
- A minimum of [X years] of bookkeeping experience, preferably in the [Industry].
- Certified Public Bookkeeper (CPB) certification or equivalent is strongly preferred.
- Proficiency in [Accounting Software] and Microsoft Office Suite.
- Strong understanding of accounting principles and financial reporting.
- Exceptional attention to detail, coupled with strong analytical and problem-solving skills.
Our Ideal Candidate is Someone Who Has:
- Demonstrated the ability to manage multiple tasks and meet deadlines.
- Excellent communication skills, both written and verbal.
- Proven experience in financial analysis and reporting.
- A strong ethical stance and commitment to company values and confidentiality.
- A proactive approach to continuous learning and professional development.
Benefits and Perks:
- Competitive salary with performance bonuses.
- Comprehensive healthcare plan, including dental and vision coverage.
- Retirement savings plan with company matching.
- Flexible working hours and remote work options.
- Professional development opportunities and continuing education stipends.
- Generous vacation and holiday leave.
- Employee wellness programs and team-building events.
How to Join Us:
Interested candidates are invited to send a resume, cover letter, and references to [Email Address]. The deadline for applications is [Date]. Initial interviews will be conducted virtually, followed by a second round of in-person interviews for shortlisted candidates.
We look forward to adding a dedicated Bookkeeper to our team, who will not only meet the functional requirements but will also resonate with our company culture and values.
Note: Feel free to adjust the template according to your specific needs and organizational culture.
How Much Does it Cost to Hire a Bookkeeper?
Hiring a bookkeeper is an investment that offers long-term returns in the form of financial organization and stability for your business. However, understanding the costs involved in recruiting a bookkeeper is crucial for budget planning. Here’s what you need to know:
- Job Listings: Posting on premium job boards like iHireAccounting will cost $349 per month. Free options are available but may not attract as many qualified candidates. For example, Indeed offers free listings, but a sponsored post can cost $5 to $10 per day.
- Recruitment Agency Fees: If you decide to go through a recruitment agency, expect to pay between 15% to 25% of the candidate’s first-year salary. For example, For a bookkeeper making $40,000 annually, the fee could range from $6,000 to $10,000.
- Freelancer or Certified: The average hourly rate for freelance bookkeepers ranges from $26 to $43. Depending on your geographic location, this amount will be more or less than the average national rate of $34.67 per hour.
- Background Checks: These can cost between $20 and $100 per candidate, depending on the depth of the check. For example, GoodHire offers basic background checks for around $29.99.
Salary and Benefits
- Salary: According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median annual wage for bookkeepers was $47,440 as of May 2022. This number can vary significantly based on experience, location, and industry.
- Benefits: The total cost of benefits like health insurance, retirement plans, and paid time off can add an additional 30% to 40% to the base salary.
- Bonuses and Incentives: Bonuses and incentives can add a significant amount to an employee’s base salary. The amount of bonus pay an employee receives depends on the type of bonus and the company’s policies. Some common types of bonuses include sign-on bonuses, profit-sharing, holiday bonuses, team incentives, milestone bonuses, and gifts. On average, the annual bonus costs 5.6% of the total compensation.
- Software and Tools: Subscriptions for accounting software and other tools required for the job can add an extra $300 to $1,200 per year. For example, QuickBooks costs $25 per month for the basic version.
Understanding both the recruitment costs and the ongoing expenses for salary and benefits will give you a more complete picture of what it truly costs to hire a bookkeeper. This knowledge allows you to budget more accurately and make informed decisions during the hiring process.