With 82% of businesses failing because of running out of cash, hiring a stellar accountant can be a game-changer for your business.
But, finding the right accountant is a challenging process as it involves more than just browsing through resumes or conducting generic interviews.
This comprehensive guide on how to hire an accountant will discuss everything you need to know, from their responsibilities, typical costs involved in their hiring, and a detailed template for an Accountant’s job description.
Responsibilities & Role of an Accountant
Accountants expertise and insights help guide organizational decision-making and support financial stability. Before kickstarting the hiring process, understanding how an accountant can help your company ensures you hire someone who can make a difference to your bottom line:
- Data Analysis & Budgeting: Your potential accountant will take on the task of dissecting financial data, constructing budgets, and strategizing to improve your company’s financial outcomes and decision-making.
- Record Maintenance & Tax Planning: Precise financial record keeping and tax liabilities optimization fall under their domain, ensuring your enterprise always remains tax-compliant.
- Audit Assistance & Risk Control: The person in this role will be vital in aiding with audit preparations and risk identification, a fundamental aspect of protecting your company’s assets.
- Business Planning & Software Management: The accountant will enrich your business strategies with their valuable insights and also manage your financial software systems efficiently.
How to Hire an Accountant
Now let’s dive into the hiring process to find the perfect accountant who can contribute to your company’s financial success. To ensure a stellar hire, follow these steps:
1. Know Your Accounting Requirements
Before initiating the hiring process, assess your specific accounting needs. Consider:
- The size and nature of your business.
- The complexity of your financial operations.
- Any specialized requirements.
Determine whether you need a full-time in-house accountant, a part-time professional, or an accounting firm to handle your financial matters. By clarifying your needs, you can better articulate the qualifications and expertise you are seeking.
2. Search for the Top Talent
After knowing your business requirement, it’s time to attract the top accounting talent. You can find some of the best accountants on:
- Job Boards and Professional Networking Platforms: Post your job openings on reputable job boards and leverage professional networking platforms like LinkedIn to reach a wide pool of qualified candidates.
If you want to hire freelance or part-time accountants or accountants on an hourly basis, you can find them on freelancing platforms like Upwork and Fiverr. Use our job description below for posting a job that stands out.
- Industry-Specific Associations and Forums: Explore industry-specific associations and online forums where accountants gather. These platforms can be a great way to connect with experienced professionals specializing in your industry.
- Referrals and Word-of-Mouth: Tap into your professional network and ask for referrals from trusted colleagues, industry contacts, and professional associations. Typically, recommendations can lead you to highly qualified candidates.
- Accounting Firms and Recruitment Agencies: Reach out to reputable accounting firms and recruitment agencies that focus on financial hiring. They often have access to a wide network of accounting professionals and can assist you in finding the right candidate.
We provide a detailed breakdown of the general costs associated with these services further down in the article.
3. Look for Professional Qualifications
When screening the resumes and CVs of potential candidates, focus on assessing their professional qualifications to understand their expertise, commitment to ethical standards, and ongoing professional development. There are various recognized certifications, such as:
- Certified Public Accountant (CPA): A CPA focuses on generally accepted accounting principles (GAAP) and US tax laws. They offer a broad range of services, including auditing, financial reporting, tax planning, and advisory.
- Certified Management Accountant (CMA): These accountants focus on management accounting and financial management. They primarily emphasize on strategic financial planning, analysis, and decision-making and provide expertise in cost management, budgeting, performance evaluation, and risk management.
Determine which qualification or certification holds significance for your business based on your accounting requirement.
For example, if you require help with tax planning and compliance, a CPA with a strong background in taxation might be ideal. On the other hand, if your focus is on financial analysis and strategic planning, a candidate with a CMA qualification can provide valuable insights.
Certified Public Accountant
- CPAs often specialize in areas such as auditing, tax preparation and advice, and financial consulting.
Certified Management Accountant
- CMA’s focus on strategic management and corporate finance, providing financial analysis for internal decision-making
4. Analyze Their Work Experience
Use the resumes and CVs to analyze the relevant experience in your industry or with businesses of a similar size and complexity. Accounting roles can vary widely, so consider the specific expertise you require.
For instance, if you need assistance with tax planning, ensure the candidate has experience in tax law and regulations. Similarly, if you require financial analysis and reporting, search for candidates with experience in financial analysis and generating insightful reports.
Hiring candidates with industry-specific knowledge can provide valuable insights and solutions tailored to your business.
in the digital age, proficiency in accounting software and different technologies is the key to success.
With 56% of accountants agreeing that technology has increased their productivity, hiring candidates knowledgeable in accounting software such as QuickBooks, Xero, or Zoho can accelerate your company’s growth.
So, shortlist candidates with relevant experience, qualifications, and technical proficiency.
5. Conduct a Comprehensive Interview Process
When interviewing shortlisted candidates, go beyond standard questions. Customize your accounting interview questions to evaluate their technical competence, problem-solving skills, and ability to handle challenging scenarios.
Ask about specific experiences related to their responsibilities, how they have contributed to improving financial processes in their previous roles, and their approach to handling conflicts or discrepancies at the workplace.
You can even request work samples, such as financial reports or budgets they have developed, to decide whether they’re the right fit for your company.
Search for candidates who can communicate complex financial concepts in a clear and concise manner. Additionally, consider their ability to work well within a team and adapt to changing priorities
6. Cross-Verify Their References and Conduct Background Verifications
Before making a final decision, contact the candidate’s references to gain insights into their work ethic, reliability, and overall performance. Ask about their ability to meet deadlines, attention to detail, and willingness to go the extra mile.
You can even conduct a thorough background verification to ensure the candidate’s credentials and qualifications are valid and in good standing.
With 55% of Americans lying on their resume at least once, conducting a background verification ensures you hire only qualified and honest accountants.
Tips for Avoiding Red Flags During the Hiring Process
When hiring an accountant, it’s essential to spot any potential red flags that may indicate untruthful or misleading information. Here are some tips to help you avoid red flags and effectively evaluate resume applications:
- Assess Resume’s Consistency and Accuracy: Scrutinize the resume for consistency and accuracy. Check for discrepancies in dates, job titles, or responsibilities mentioned in different sections of the resume. Inaccurate or conflicting information may indicate a lack of attention to detail or potential dishonesty
- Pay Attention to the Resume’s Formatting and Presentation: A well-organized and professionally formatted resume can indicate that the candidate took the time and effort to present themselves effectively. Look for clarity, consistency in font styles, proper grammar, and correct spelling.
- Be Cautious of Overqualification or Under Qualification: Consider the candidate’s qualifications in relation to the job requirements. While overqualified candidates can bring valuable skills, they may be less motivated or prone to leaving the position quickly. Underqualified candidates may not have the necessary expertise to perform the job effectively.
- Trust Your Instincts: Sometimes, a gut feeling can signal a red flag that may not be immediately apparent. If something feels off or raises doubts about a candidate’s credibility or suitability, consider further investigation.
Accountant Job Description
Did you know shorter job titles lead to higher application rates? Or, Using more than two symbols in your job ad titles decreases the candidate’s application rate by a whopping 30%? Or a job description with 300-800 words performs best with candidates?
These statistics indicate that job descriptions are more than just a list of requirements and responsibilities. They significantly impact the candidate’s perception of the role and their likelihood to apply.
So, here’s what a stellar job description looks like:
Job Title: Accountant
Company: [Your Company Name]
Job Type: [Full Time / Part Time / Contract]
Salary: [Salary / Competitive / DOE]
[Provide a brief description of your company, its history, values, sustainability and work environment.]
We are currently seeking a detail-oriented, experienced Accountant to join our team. You will be responsible for performing various bookkeeping and financial tasks, such as preparing budgets and financial reports, performing tax returns, ensuring compliance with state and federal regulations, and managing company ledgers. You should have a strong understanding of financial regulations and accounting operations used in our industry.
What You’ll Do:
- Prepare monthly, quarterly, and annual financial reports
- Analyze and report on financial status including income statement variances, communicating financial results to management, budget preparation and analysis
- Improve systems and procedures and initiate corrective actions
- Oversee taxes and abide by federal regulations
- Evaluate financial operations to recommend best-practices, identify issues and strategize solutions, and help organizations run efficiently
- Conduct forecasting and risk analysis assessments
What You’ll Bring:
- Bachelor’s degree in Accounting or related field
- [Specify years] years of accounting experience
- Strong understanding of accounting principles and financial reporting and legislation
- Proficiency with accounting software ([specify if any specific software])
- Strong computer skills, particularly with MS Excel
- Excellent attention to detail with the ability to unravel complex accounting reports
- CPA certification is a plus
Our Ideal Candidate is Someone Who Has:
- Bachelor’s degree in Accounting, Finance, or a related field
- 5 years of experience in accounting or financial management
- Professional certifications such as Certified Public Accountant (CPA), Certified Management Accountant (CMA), or Chartered Accountant (CA) are strongly preferred
Benefits and Perks:
- Competitive salary and performance-based bonuses
- Comprehensive health, dental, and vision insurance
- Generous PTO and holiday schedule
- 401(k) with company match
- Equity or stock options
- Tuition reimbursement
- Life and disability insurance
- Continuing education and professional development opportunities
- A culture that prioritizes work-life balance
- Flexible work arrangements (remote work, flexible hours)
- Company-sponsored team outings and social events
- Employee wellness programs
- Access to professional associations, conferences, and subscriptions
How to Join Us:
Please send your resume, a cover letter detailing your qualifications, and any other supporting documents to [email address] with the subject line “Application for Accountant Position – [Your Name]”.
[Your Company Name] is an Equal Opportunity Employer. All qualified applicants will receive consideration for employment without regard to race, color, religion, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, national origin, or protected veteran status and will not be discriminated against on the basis of disability.
Closing Date: [Insert closing date for applications]
Please note only shortlisted candidates will be contacted. Thank you for your interest in [Your Company Name].
Note: It’s important to tailor this template to your company’s specific needs and the specific accountant role you are looking to fill. This template assumes a fairly broad role, but you may need to modify it if the role is specialized, such as a tax accountant, an auditor, or a financial controller.
How Much Does it Cost to Hire an Accountant?
When hiring an accountant for your company, it’s important to consider the associated expenses to ensure proper budgeting and resource allocation. Here are some potential hiring expenses to consider:
This includes expenses related to advertising the job opening, utilizing recruitment agencies, and conducting background checks or pre-employment assessments. These costs may vary depending on the recruitment channels chosen and the complexity of the hiring process.
For instance, on average, using an external agency incurs a fee of approximately 15% to 25% of the annual salary, which can vary depending on factors such as the industry and other relevant considerations.
For an internal HR team, this cost can be less tangible but may account for several hours of work for HR staff, and managers is approximately $4,700, depending on the business size and hiring process complexity.
Salary and Benefits
The largest expense in hiring an accountant is typically the professional’s salary. The salary for an accountant will depend on factors such as their experience level, qualifications, and the local job market.
For instance, the average annual salary for accountants is $77,250 per year or $37.14 per hour. While the average salary for a CPA is $153,003 per year.Additionally, consider the cost of employee benefits such as health insurance, retirement plans, paid time off, and other perks you may offer to attract and retain top accounting talent. For instance, the average additional cash compensation for a CPA is $57,195.
Training and Onboarding
If you hire an entry-level accountant or someone who is not familiar with your company’s specific accounting processes and software, you may need to allocate funds for training and onboarding. This can include providing resources and software licenses or bringing in trainers or consultants to facilitate the training process.
You spend an average of $103 per hour on employee training and employees may require 62 hours of training every year.
Equipment and Software
Accountants typically require specialized software and tools to perform their duties efficiently. Consider the costs associated with providing them with the necessary equipment, such as computers, accounting software licenses, and other tools required to carry out their responsibilities.
Accountants often need to stay updated with changing regulations and industry practices. Allocating a budget for professional development activities such as attending workshops, conferences, or pursuing additional certifications can help keep your accountant’s skills current and enhance their professional growth.
Consider other miscellaneous expenses that may arise during the hiring process, such as travel expenses for interviews or relocation costs if you are hiring from a different location.