There’s probably going to be a vacancy in your team over the coming year. You’re going to need a plan.  

Over the past two weeks, I’ve highlighted the pronounced gaps in the accounting talent pool in New Zealand, and the huge surge we’re seeing in vacancy listings.

At Consult, we’re pretty confident the number of new accounting vacancies will continue to climb, and that there’ll be a steady decline in the availability of top talent.  

Even if you don’t have plans to hire right now, the increasingly active job market means that chances are you’ll need to replace someone in your team sometime this year. You cannot afford to be complacent. You need to start getting your recruitment house in order now.

This week, I’m equipping you with an eight-point recruitment plan to make sure you’re ready to get the jump on your competition in the battle for talent:

1. Change your mindset

Accept that as a hiring manager, your days of sitting in the driver’s seat are numbered.  Sourcing and retaining exceptional talent is about to become your biggest business issue again.  You need to start investing time and energy in building your brand as an employer of choice.

2. Pay people what they’re worth

Forget about hiring an excellent person on an average salary and them being happy with that.  If you want the best talent in the market, you’ll have to pay them at least market rates.

And be aware that market rates for some roles are currently changing at a rapid clip - so that salary guide you’ve been using is probably out of date. Our new independent website, What’s My Worth?, provides dynamic, user-driven data and will give you a more accurate picture.

3. Review your recruitment processes

We’re beginning to see businesses miss out on candidates because they took too long to jump them through their recruitment hoops.  Now’s the time to make sure that box-ticking doesn’t get in the way of hiring the right person. Top talent now have multiple job offers to choose from, so it’s more important than ever that you’re not missing out on them because of a lengthy, bureaucratic or disrespectful hiring process.

4. You might be an accountant but you’re also in sales!  

Don’t forget that interviews are a two-way street.  Candidates are all assessing your business for fit, career development and gut feel.  Make sure you’re organised, polite and positive.  And make sure your team is, too – team morale is easy to gauge through the smallest things, like a smile and hello at reception.

5. Forget about the dollars and cents; instead focus on the opportunity cost.

As accountants we focus on the dollars, but sometimes we forget about the opportunity cost, which can be far greater. 

Imagine you met the perfect candidate in every way except they were looking for $5k more than you want to pay.  By not hiring this person, the cost to the business is much more than $5k in terms of your time, staff morale, overburdening current staff while there’s a gap in the team, loss of knowledge and - the worst thing - ending up with the second or third best person for the long term.  Five thousand dollars is negligible to a business in a year; and nothing to a business when a person is awesome at their job.

6Do it yourself - but only if you're completely committed to it. 

If you want to have a crack at the hiring process yourself, go ahead - but you should be sure at the outset that you can invest the time it takes to do it justice.  We worked on a role recently where the manager had tried the DIY route, but in the end didn’t have the time and resource to make a good go of it. He gave up and listed the role with us. Unfortunately, what he didn’t anticipate was the bad PR his initial attempt generated, because of the lack of response to good candidates, and the drawn-out process.

7. Talk to your existing staff. 

It’s only natural that you’ll lose some people in the next while.  It’s been a long and tough recession and a lot of people just need a change in scene.  Don’t take it personally.  Make sure you’re engaged with your staff so you can anticipate and manage the transition – this will reduce stress on yourself and the rest of your staff.

8If you do decide to use an agency, make sure it represents you well. 

They say a country gets the parliament they deserve.  Employers also tend to work with the recruiters they deserve.  Make sure you are reviewing your agency relationships and that you are investing time and energy in them. After all, they’ll be representing you to the market, so you need to invest time in them to make sure they understand you and your business.  

The talent shortage is here to stay. Don’t get caught flat-footed.  Get your recruitment plan sorted now, or risk being left behind.

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