5 Reasons Your Accounting Job Advert Failed

In this article, we share some of the most common job advert mistakes that we’ve seen accounting firms make.
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You’re a busy accountancy firm and it’s time to expand your account team, so you put together a job advert, post it online, and watch as the applicants roll in. Except… crickets. The salary is good, and the perks are fair, so why aren’t accountants applying?

You’re not alone, 9 out of 10 accountancy and audit firms struggle to fill open positions. Here are some of the most common mistakes I see firms making.

Reason 1: Not including enough detail   

For most industries, it pays to keep job descriptions short and concise. Many studies advise not to exceed 140 words, with information signposted in short, vague bullet points. However, the same can’t be said when recruiting accountants.

When advertising accountancy roles, you could be putting candidates off by taking a “less is more” approach. By their very nature, accountants crave the details. They want to know all of the intricacies of the role you’re advertising. They have an eye for the granular, and an ability to quickly find the information they need.

When recruiting for accountants specifically, my advice is to aim towards 300 words for your job description and to ensure you focus on giving clarity to the reader. Be crystal clear on the role you’re advertising for, the job description, the salary and benefits you will pay, and the individual you’re looking for.

Reason 2: Only posting on a generic job board

It’s not enough to post your accountancy job advert on LinkedIn, Indeed and Reed, and hope for the best. No matter how good the role you’re advertising is, it isn’t always seen by the right people, at the right time.

Many of the best candidates aren’t actively looking for jobs, but are interested in hearing what’s out there. Finding the time to build a strong pool of passive talent can be difficult for busy accountancy firms, but not doing so means you’re missing out on a plethora of talent who may be interested in hearing about your job opportunity.

A great job advert benefits from being further boosted by a targeted and proactive recruitment approach. Working in partnership with a specialist recruitment company will help to make sure the right people are aware that you’re hiring, plus enable you to tap into the recruiter’s database of relevant candidates.

Reason 3: You’re raising red flags 

A study by McKinsey & Company found that 44% of women, 45% of ethnic or racial minorities, and 50% of LGBTQIA+ respondents decided against pursuing a job because they believed the organisation would not be an inclusive workplace.

You might think you’re being inclusive, but biased wording in job ads is largely subconscious. Here are some examples which might be preventing candidates from responding to your job advert:

  • Using male-gendered language such as ‘aggressive,’ ‘competitive,’ and ‘dominate’ signal that the environment could be male-dominated.
  • Asking for ‘years of experience’ or mentioning a ‘fast-paced environment’ can deter candidates from applying on the basis of their age.
  • Seeking a ‘native English speaker’ implies a working environment that isn’t diverse, while excluding proficient non-native speakers by triggering language confidence issues.
  • Failing to mention flexible working policies alienates parents and caregivers (such as those who are helping to support aging family members), alongside neurodivergent individuals who may prefer to work from home.
  • Using corporate and old-fashioned jargon can deter entry-level candidates from applying.
  • Listing unnecessary degrees or professional certification requirements can exclude candidates who are talented in other ways.

Reason 4: You’re not including salary information

Many accountancy firms still leave out the most important piece of information from their job descriptions – the salary – despite 98% of job applicants wanting to know salary details before applying for a job.

You might be holding back this information for fear of putting yourself at a competitive disadvantage, or because you don’t want to cause resentment among existing staff, but if that’s the case you should take it as a sign that you need to look at your company culture and competitive positioning as a whole.

Posting a job advert that includes no salary encourages potential applicants to make negative assumptions about your organisation, such as you hope to pay as little as you can get away with, existing staff may not be paid fairly, you are ashamed about how little you pay your workers, and more.

Interestingly, in November 2022, a new law required all employers in New York to disclose salary details on job adverts. California and Washington followed in January 2023. I wonder how long it will take for similar legislation to roll out in the UK.

Reason 5: You’re keeping it too professional

Today’s candidates aren’t just looking for a job, they’re looking for an employer that aligns with their values. They want to hear about your work culture, how you care for your staff, and what you can offer that goes beyond a salary.

It pays to dedicate a section of your job advert to your company’s mission, values, and company culture. It’s also a great idea to include testimonials from current employees, which provide an insight into your working culture, and build trust and credibility.

Ultimately, investing time and effort into creating a compelling job advert will increase your chances of attracting candidates who are actively searching for jobs. But for the best chance of success, a solid job advert must be combined with a proactive recruitment strategy that focuses on sourcing, engaging, and attracting candidates whether they’re actively searching for a new role – or not.

If you’re a business that would like support with your finance and accounting recruitment needs, email me at [email protected].

Image Credit: Mart Production 

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