If you build it, they will come.
Congratulations! Your firm is growing and thriving. New clients are coming in, existing clients are expanding their services and your revenue is up. However, sometimes success brings challenges. And one of the toughest challenges is developing your organization to keep up. At the core of any organization is its people and as you grow the time has come to start adding practitioners or other personnel that can properly handle your clients’ needs.
But anyone who has been involved in hiring knows that it is not as easy as it sounds.
With unemployment rates at the lowest levels in a decade and college fees increasing, pools of qualified candidates are dwindling. Top-level talent is extremely selective about whom they interview with, and they entertain multiple offers. How can you get on their radar and gain their attention?
One key strategy that I have used is to build a company’s “persona” to attract top-level talent. Think about Google, Tesla Motors and Apple. They share a public perception of innovation, opportunity and unique corporate cultures. A job hunter would not think twice about accepting an interview with any of these companies.
Your firm may not have the budget to offer free lunches or pick up employees in luxury buses, but those are the easy ways to create a persona. Ultimately, candidates that you want will not be swayed by the perks. Perks would just be the icing on the cake.
Step 1: Identify and Build Your Culture
How can you know what type of person will be a good fit for your firm? First, you need to be absolutely certain of what your firm represents – from how you work together to why you work. People are “social animals” and enjoy the collaboration experience at work. In addition, we all like to identify with a vision and a cause that contribute back to the community at large. A recent study showed that employees will stay with a company for less money if they enjoy the work and the people they work with. Taking the time to define and nurture your firm’s corporate culture is a valuable exercise that helps to retain current employees and attract new ones.
Start with your values. What values are important to your firm? How do you embody them? Are they well communicated? Values are your foundation. Put them on the wall, talk about them with employees, candidates and recruiters, and you will be able to use them to attract top talent.
Values play a tremendous role in how you interact with employees. Employees can be your biggest advocates when it comes to attracting new talent. And beyond that, happy employees equal happy clients. Happy clients equate to fantastic advocates who can help grow your firm through referrals.
Don’t forget: When you are identifying your values, you have to talk to clients and existing employees in order to get a comprehensive view.
Once you identify your important values, explore ways to show how your firm personifies them. Build activities and communications that reinforce them. Integrate them into the hiring/interviewing process. With constant reinforcement and by using your values to guide everyday and strategic decision-making, your culture will blossom into an important asset for prospective employees.
Step 2: Stand Out from the Crowd
Your competitors are hiring too. If your firm is stacked right next to a competitor’s firm, how do you make yours stand out?
Perhaps a good way to assess this is to determine what your firm is known for. For example: Is your firm technologically savvy? Is it known for its high-caliber client services and reliability? Or perhaps it has a reputation for respecting its employees and their feedback?
Make sure your values are part of what you stand for. The combination of what you do, how you do it, and why you do it will attract talent. Values will seal the deal.
Step 3: Explore Benefits That Extend Beyond Paychecks
Yes, a paycheck is important. But benefits can extend far beyond money. They enable employees and potential employees to connect with your firm on an emotional level.
Do you offer flexible work schedules? Or the ability to work from home? Or perhaps possibilities for charitable endeavors and community involvement? Does your firm provide educational or team-building opportunities for your employees?
At Bill.com, we stock our kitchen with healthy snacks for everyone to enjoy. We offer smoking cessation and weight loss programs. We support each other in tough times by sending baked goods and donating PTO. And we celebrate! Sometimes it’s me cooking breakfast for the sales team or making margaritas and guacamole for the product team or sharing cupcakes for a birthday. These things are not necessarily right for you but the important thing is to let the culture evolve and support the personality whenever you can. You will be surprised at the difference it makes.
Take some time to explore new alternatives to benefits that can make your firm attractive to talent.
At the end of the day, your firm is only as good as the people you have! True, these steps require time and commitment. And they will not deliver people to your front door on day one. But from the perspective of long-term success for the company and bringing in top-level talent, these are all vital for success. And best of all you’ll have more fun!
René Lacerte founded Bill.com in August 2006, bringing with him more than 20 years of experience in the finance, software and payments industries. As a fourth-generation entrepreneur, Lacerte developed the concept for Bill.com based on personal experience growing up in multiple businesses as a kid and then co-founding his first company, PayCycle, in 1999. Lacerte also spent five years at Intuit, creating and managing the company’s bill presentment team and growing its bill payment and credit card businesses into a multimillion-dollar business. He also launched Intuit’s first connected payroll product, growing the team from two employees to 300 in 18 months. He has a Master of Science degree in industrial engineering and a Bachelor of Arts in quantitative economics from Stanford University.