How to hire tax professionals: a guide to a successful and inclusive hiring process

Author Sarah Reid
January 30, 2023

The below forms part of Taxation magazine’s Tax Toolkit 2022 and was first published in the magazine December 2022.

Throughout 2022, the ‘war for talent’ has been well publicised and has been felt prominently amongst our clients. Over the past year, we have been instructed on an unprecedented number of mandates to recruit tax professionals for organisations and this demand has been met with a scramble for the best talent in the market. Despite the economic and political landscape, we anticipate that this trend will remain throughout 2023. Therefore, it has never been more important for organisations to consider how they can attract and secure the best talent and key to this is running a successful and inclusive interview process.

The best workforce is a diverse workforce.

Ted Colbert, CIO at Boeing

Diversity is no longer a buzzword — it’s an expectation. The benefits to organisations of having a diverse workforce are clear. In 2017, Boston Consulting Group ran a study which identified that diversity was a key driver of innovation and that diverse teams produce 19% more revenue. Through a diverse workforce, organisations make employees feel more valued and when morale is high, this improves communication – both elements which are critical to success.

In addition to the advantages a diverse workforce brings to an organisation’s profit line, there is also an increasing trend for it to be a key issue when attracting talent as more professionals than ever take it into consideration when looking to move roles. More than three out of four job seekers and employees (76%) report that a diverse workforce is an important factor when evaluating companies and job offers.

So, how do you run a successful and inclusive hiring process?

Brewer Morris is committed to partnering with our clients in the development of their DEI strategy, recruitment processes and talent pipelining. Inclusive recruitment is the process of interviewing and hiring a diverse set of individuals through valuing different backgrounds, opinions and experiences.

Whilst the benefits are clear, it remains a challenge for many organisations and many are still unclear where to start, therefore we have outlined some suggested considerations below.

Before you advertise your tax role

  • Educate all your employees. Diversity and education training should be an ongoing process, not something you complete once to ‘tick a box’ so, run refresher courses. It should be engrained in your culture to ensure an inclusive environment for all employees which will retain talent for longer
  • Your culture and brand are key. Do you proactively display your efforts in building an inclusive culture externally as well as internally so potential candidates looking at your website or social media will see an inclusive brand?
  • Do you offer a well thought out benefits suite that can make all employees feel supported and potential employees keen to apply?
  • You should set DEI targets and measure your results so you have accountability as you would in other areas of your business. Create metrics to assess your progress in hiring and retaining a diverse workforce
  • Think outside of the box. Challenge yourself. Does this role need to be full-time? How many days do you need someone to be in the office as a minimum? Offering more flexibility will enable you to relate to a wider audience and attract more diverse talent
  • Be mindful of the language used on job adverts and position descriptions. Is it inclusive and encouraging? Showcase what you can offer a potential employee and avoid an exhaustive list of ‘key requirements’ that may deter great candidates from applying. We are seeing more and more clients add a line to the bottom of their job specifications to encourage those who don’t feel like they meet all the requirements to apply e.g. This is our ideal candidate, but by no means the only candidate; we all have different strengths. If you don’t match 100% but believe you could do the job well, we would love to hear from you

When you advertise your tax role

  • Ensure your website and the ease of applications have been considered from the perspective of all candidates that might be applying and any disabilities that they may have. For example, are the adverts easy to read for those with visual impairments, can prospective employee easily navigate through the application process, are there transcripts available if you have video content?
  • Think creatively about how you could widen your search. Rethink the factors that you screen for. Question what traits you value most in candidates, why, and whether that’s based on your own bias or the hiring manager’s bias

The recruitment process

  • Once you receive CVs, their presentation could be anonymised in different ways before being submitted to line managers. For example, removing candidate names, removing education or names of academic institutions or you can try fully anonymising CVs to remove as much potential for bias as possible. Arguably, if you feel the need to anonymise you should perhaps ask yourself why and address any internal issues
  • Timings – how flexible are you with offering times for interview? Do all your interviews have to be in person or could they be held virtually?
  • Include a diverse interview panel. Stakeholders involved in the recruitment process must understand and be able to articulate your commitment as a business to diversity and inclusion. This will also improve the candidate experience and increase the strength of your employer brand which should increase the number of offers accepted
  • Ask inclusive interview questions and ideally ask each candidate the same questions so that candidates can be properly benchmarked against each other. Using scorecards can help give a clearer result too
  • Ask interviewers to submit feedback before discussing the candidate with each other to avoid building momentum bias towards a particular candidate.

In addition to running an inclusive process, successful recruitment is usually hinged on several other factors.

Speed is important – whilst line managers are investing their time in hiring, candidates are also investing their time in preparing and attending interviews, therefore it is critical that you move quickly to attract the right talent. Psychologically, everyone wants to feel wanted so reviewing CVs, organising interviews, providing feedback, moving to offer etc quickly is an easy way to show your intent.

Another factor to consider is ‘how do you sell your opportunity?’. Again, whilst line managers want to ascertain why they should hire a candidate and what value they can add, it is important that a candidate leaves an interview understanding what sets you apart as an employer from your competition and/or the candidates current employer. Interviewing is a two-way process and line managers should get a return on investment by ensuring that each candidate leaves their interview wanting to join them, regardless of whether they decide to extend an offer, as ‘word of mouth’ is a powerful tool when building and maintaining a brand. Tax is a small world after all!

Finally, think outside the box and challenge yourself:

How could you use your budget for recruitment differently? Could you hire a more experienced person to do the role on a part-time basis? Do you need to see a full CV to consider interviewing someone for your role? Could you decide whether or not to have a conversation off the back of a LinkedIn profile?

The benefit of showing flexibility in hiring someone without a CV is that they are unlikely to have applied for other roles without a CV which therefore reduces your competition. Equally, are you happy to meet a candidate informally first, if they’re not quite ready to commit to a full interview process?

If you consider all these factors above, we believe you are putting yourself in the best position to attract, secure and retain the best talent available.

If you have any questions about this article and if you need support hiring or finding the right role for you, contact Sarah or somebody else from our specialised team of tax recruitment consultants.

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