There are many factors that affect the hiring process for accounting and financial professionals. But we’ve found that two of the most important ones, branding and content, aren’t considered strongly enough by most hiring organizations.
This blog explores why branding and content are so vital in making better hires, and offers best practices on how your company can improve both.
Why branding matters to job candidates
“Elevating your employer brand is critical to building interest among coveted passive candidates,” says Jeff Phillips, CEO, Accountingfly.
These days, CPAs are in incredibly high demand. They may receive 20-30 LinkedIn messages a week from headhunters. In order to stand out against this tidal wave of job offers, your company brand needs to offer something special and unique.
And whether you’re making a conscious effort to promote your brand or not, the information is still out there. “Companies’ reputations have nowhere to hide in the age of the web and ubiquitous social media platforms,” says Caleb Newquist, Editor, Going Concern.
With the increasing demand for top CPA and financial talent, the hiring process has become more like marketing. Your company is now a product that must be sold to the top candidates. And you can’t market a product without a brand.
Improving your brand to attract top talent
Today’s best CPA and accounting recruits, particularly millennials at the Senior and Manager levels, are increasingly interested in company culture as they evaluate potential job offers.
“Every accounting firm has the same message in recruiting: it’s our people that set us apart,” says Brad Hughes, Founding Partner, Beech Valley Solutions. “But what really sets firms apart is if…they demonstrate how their people and their opportunities are unique from what every other firm is doing.”
Demonstrating a culture of flexibility, accountability, and community service can all make your brand more attractive to candidates. And today there are more ways than ever to get the word out.
You can use videos, articles, ads, your website, and even your job postings to offer stories—not vague claims—about what it’s like to work at your company.
“Take some risks!” says Newquist. “Do something different or unusual. You’re always going to attract interesting people that way.”
The role of content in the hiring process
ERE published a study in 2014 demonstrating that senior, degreed professionals are 278% more likely to apply for a job posting when they’ve seen content from or featuring the hiring company’s brand.
To remain competitive in today’s accounting and financial job hiring market, your business must produce content. Whether it’s a company blog, sponsored articles on another site, social media posts, video, or all of the above, content gets candidates to consider your organization even if they aren’t currently looking to make a change—and makes them more likely to favor you once they are.
“Producing great content puts your organization’s message in front of the right audience and encourages them to want to learn more about what you’re doing,” says Hughes.
Content isn’t king. Great content is king.
All content is not created equal, however. Producing bland or overly marketing-focused content will do little to improve brand awareness among candidates.
Many firms make the mistake of posting content that isn’t interesting to the reader. Don’t copy and paste press releases, don’t post transcripts of speeches by your CEO, and don’t write on topics that have been well-covered in other publications (i.e. “How to Write a Great Resume.”)
Instead, the key to great content is authenticity. Tell the truth. Speak in a conversational tone. Highlight your strengths, sure, but be willing to admit your weaknesses. Produce content that helps potential candidates solve a particular problem or educates them about a new topic—great content is about the reader, not you. And don’t be afraid to publish content that makes little reference to your company.
“Write about topics people care about, that actually helps or entertains them, and weave your brand into that content for best results,” says Phillips.
In 2014, Domino’s marketing did the unthinkable—they admitted they were selling bad pizza, and promised to do better. The honest, authentic tone of the advertising struck a chord with consumers, and Domino’s profits went up 16% in a single quarter.
“(Great content) shows a willingness to be vulnerable and engage in a discussion,” says Newquist. “Stake a claim, be controversial, or challenge the status quo.”
Great examples of great content
You didn’t think you’d get out of here without seeing some quality content examples, did you? Here are a few pieces we feel illustrate the authenticity and passion that attract top talent:
Meet This Firm Video: Horne LLP
This video exemplifies the kind of employee-centered culture that’s sure to appeal to high level accounting professionals. The best recruits want to work for a business that’s invested in them—one that enables them to build a career instead of just performing a job. Recruits who watch this video may find themselves infected by the obvious passion of the employees—and may slide Horne LLP up a few notches on their list of job considerations.
Meet This Firm Video: Prager Metis
This video does a great job of giving a face and personality to the firm and its employees. It also stresses the benefits of being a medium-sized business, having a global reach, promoting from within, and celebrating ethnic diversity—factors sure to appeal to a wide variety of top-rate candidates.
Ask Me Anything: An Interview with Facebook Controller Matt Banks
Nothing sparks honesty and authenticity quite like an AMA. For the uninitiated, that stands for “Ask Me Anything”—an interview where questions are entirely crowd-sourced and little to nothing is off the table. Conducting an AMA proves to top recruits that you aren’t scared of the tough questions and that you can admit your challenges even while emphasizing your strengths.
Here we see Matt Banks of Facebook open up about his career, the company culture, and the nuts and bolts of the platform itself. Readers will walk away with an honest, authentic understanding of what Facebook does and why it matters. And that could lead to a desire to work there when the time comes for a move.
Start improving your brand and content now
We’ve given you a lot of ideas to help you better attract recruits. Some of it may sound daunting. But there’s an easy way to improve your branding and start producing great content now: just partner with Accountingfly. Click the link below to learn more.