For Small Business Owners: How Do I Hire An Accountant?MGR Accounting Recruiters in
As a CPA that owns a recruiting firm I get asked this question frequently. It is a difficult and important decision for a small business owner. There are a few key characteristics that you should look for as a business owner when searching for an accountant, or a bookkeeper, to hire on a full-time or part-time basis.
Honesty. I’m not sure there is a 100% foolproof way to check for honesty, but there are some precautions you can take. I recommend a criminal background check on anyone you are considering for an accounting position, as well as calling some of their former employers. It won’t guarantee that you are getting an honest person, but it is a good start. Also, never hire against your ‘gut instinct’. Sometimes our ‘gut instinct’ can be God’s way of protecting us from a situation we don’t fully understand.
Dependability. Accounting is a deadline-oriented job. The consequences of missing deadlines can be costly. There are the obvious penalties you can receive from taxing agencies, but often worse are the bad decisions that can be made due to inaccurate or late information. Make sure you feel that the potential hire will be dependable and do whatever it takes to make sure the job gets done. This doesn’t mean that they have to work a tremendous number of hours, but they do need to be the type of person that takes personal responsibility for their work.
Technical Ability. This item is difficult to measure if you don’t have accounting training yourself. The best course of action is to have someone else with accounting background interview the candidates as well for a 2nd opinion. If you don’t have anyone internal to your organization, then your external CPA is an excellent choice. Don’t have an external CPA? Then get one. If you are only going to have one internal accounting employee it is best to have an external CPA as well in order to ensure that proper controls are in place, for your protection as well as theirs.
Long-term Fit. Lastly, if at all possible you want to minimize turnover in accounting positions because you get more value out of an accountant or bookkeeper that understands the ebb and flow of your own business cycle. Try to pick an individual that you feel will ‘fit’ with your organizational culture. Typically the longer they are with your organization, the more valuable a resource they become in terms of helping you make key decisions.
These are the four most important factors to look for in an accounting employee for a small business. If you find yourself with an uncertain feeling in any of these areas, it is probably best to keep looking.
I wish you the best in your search.