With our borders closed for the foreseeable future, the employment market is as tight as I remember it being in 2007-08 just prior to the GFC where everyone was getting $15k-$20k pay rises when they moved jobs, and companies were making stupid offers to shitty candidates that jumped jobs every 10 months and could barely speak English – that’s how desperate employers were – we’re not exactly there yet but pretty damn close.
As a recruitment agency we’re struggling to get candidates over the line because many are getting counter offered the moment they resign (which by the way: to all the candidates reading this – it never works long term, 90% of you end up calling us again in 6-9 months telling us nothing has changed and you still want to leave). The other factor is Commerce is offering $15k-$40k more for less work and no timesheets – which has always been the case but it’s even more pronounced as they’re getting desperate with staff shortages.
So what’s the solution: well for now the good news is that the government has opened up overseas visa sponsorship for skilled migrants and guess what? Accountants and Auditors are on that list!!! So there is some respite there but good luck getting them here anytime soon – by the time you find someone, get through months and months of bureaucratic visa processing, they resign, then good luck getting them on a flight here with our flight capacity cuts and then don’t forget 2 weeks of quarantine and then they can start but by that time you probably don’t need them because the busy period is finished, and they’ll probably open up the borders (hopefully, as my wife really wants to go to the Amalfi Coast!).
Enough ranting Michael, what should I do then? I thought you’d never ask:
- Hire more people than you need – every good practice I know always runs at over capacity because they’ve learned the hard way that when you need people, they’re never there so if you come across someone worthwhile especially a superstar you bring them on and find work for them later. Also, they know that when it rain it pours – meaning that they’ve had no one leave in 5 years and then next week they’ll have someone moving cities, going to Commerce or a client, and also one of your top staff tells you she is going on maternity leave in 3 months – good luck getting 3 decent staff 6 weeks before the busy period. More importantly if you have over 20 staff – assume you’ll have at least 20% turn over every year, so you need 4 staff per year (not taking into account growth). You’re probably thinking – sure Michael – but how do I get them in the first place – I’m glad you asked – this will be in the article coming out shortly.
- Create a solid funnel of juniors progressing up through the ranks – yes, it’s hard work but that’s why you’re in business, to ensure the hard work pays off and you have a stable business that works like a well oiled machine – they’re cheap, relatively loyal, and there is an endless supply of them unlike the experienced accountants that eventually all move to Commerce. I went through the cadetship program – it was brilliant. I’m surprised many firms scrapped their cadetship programs.
- Be open to left field sources of candidates –
A) Remote Workers – we have quite a few regional firms that have improved their technology platforms and have hired multiple remote workers from all over Australia – and very successfully I might add!
B) Mums – yes you will need to be flexible but they’re loyal and efficient.
C) Older People – yes in your eyes they might be a bit slower, and maybe not as tech savvy but you’ll be surprised by how many are switched on, more tech savvy than some of your graduates, make great mentors to the juniors, bring stability to the workforce and are great with clients and they’re usually not after crazy money or becoming a Partner tomorrow – they just want a stable role that pays the bills.
4. Sponsor people from overseas or get them from NZ if you want them to get them ASAP. They have just opened up 491 visas again and accountants and auditors are on that list.
5. Stay in touch with your old staff members – you would be surprised how often people would be happy to come back to their old employer (if it was a great place to work) when they realise the grass isn’t always greener – but it’s important that you part ways amicably and want the best for them and stay in touch (call them or take out for lunch or coffee) and make them aware that your doors are always open – touch base with them in 3-6 months – which is the most common period in which they realise they made a mistake.
6. Have an outsourced arrangement on tap – either as a full time team or a company that helps you with overflow work – so that you don’t overwork your existing employees that need to cover for the ones that left and then they feel stressed out and underappreciated and they get tempted by an offer to move as well – then you’re digging yourself an even bigger hole.
Hope you found this useful, if you did share your thoughts below as to how and why. If you have other tips to share how you go about getting staff, please share in the comments as well.
My name is Michael Edelstein and I’m an experienced Recruiter, Businessman, and a Qualified Accountant that understands the business of accounting firms because I come from an audit background myself and have been recruiting them for over 10 years.
I specialise in Senior Placements within Public Practice Accounting across Australia having placed people in every state and territory and have a proven track record in the identification and facilitation of firm mergers, practice group transitions, and/or lateral & vertical partner moves. I’m regularly asked to provide research, commentary, and strategic advice to my clients on the latest trends and movements within the accounting Public Practice market.
Are you struggling to find people? Can’t scale your business? Give me a call on 0421 892 145 or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org because I’m sure I can help you.