By John Peterson

November 8th, 2012


  1. Overview
  2. Attracting Talent: The Secret Formula
    • The Job Description
    • Writing your Job Description
    • Interviewing Candidates
    • Making an offer
    • Preparing a Candidate to reject a counter offer
    • Probationary Period
  3. Retaining Talent
    • The Onboarding Process
    • The Probationary Period
    • The Annual Review
  4. Summary


During the past 15 years, I have assisted many firms to recruit and we have placed up to 1,000 professionals as a specialist recruiter. Attracting and retaining talent is the common frustration we encounter for a typical accounting firm.

Jack Stuk (High Profile Tax Lawyer and Advisor to the NTAA), refers to it at his “Rule of 3” which is, to hire one good candidate, you must be prepared to hire as many as three because only one out of three may be good enough!

The merit of the Rule of 3 prepares your firm to make an on-going financial commitment to recruitment and ensures you are not unrealistic in your expectations to build a world-class team.

During my time at leading organization Zenger Miller ( consultants to Fortune 500 in the USA and top 200 in Aus), I learned a formula to attract and retain outstanding talent and following this formula greatly improves your ability to attract and retain talent ongoing.


Let’s face it, if you can’t attract the best then you certainly cannot hire or retain the best. So attracting the best is the primary objective of everyone’s agenda.

The best candidates are looking for a number of key ingredients that tell them they should take your firm seriously as a career prospect. The following list will make all the difference in attracting high-quality applicants;

a) Your Website
b) Your Business Purpose, Mission, Vision, & Values
c) A Challenging & Rewarding Environment
d) Technical Training & Other Development
e) Career Progression
f) Other Like Minded Employees


80% of candidates review your website if you have one before attending a job interview and a poor website often leads to candidates withdrawing from contention.

One website provider is recommended and can cost you as little as $495.00 upfront and $99.00 per month.


Mission, Vision & Values

If you do not have a vision or a clearly defined purpose, it will be a challenge to attract talent. Top performers want to know where your firm is headed that its purpose is meaningful and worthwhile because they want to make a significant contribution.

Candidates want to know your values and even if not perfect they are more likely to accept an offer from a firm that has values than a firm that does not.

We recently hired our own new team member, a Marketing Graduate with a Major in Journalism who commented that our Mission, Vision, and Values presented a compelling opportunity and turned down an offer with a 50% higher remuneration package to join our organization.


Talent wants to be challenged. In our experience, very few accounting firms realize this requirement and want their younger employees do their time rather than pushing young talent through the ranks based on merit and this lack of progress risks losing the very talent they have acquired.

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