Five steps to winning the war for talent (part three)

Sep 13, 2007 | Recruitment

In parts one and two of this series, I summarised the first four steps that accountancy firms and other ambitious professional service firms need to consider if they want to attract and retain the right people to work for them.

Having made a job offer and had it accepted we can now move onto the fifth crucial stage that is often overlooked. It also provides an opportunity to enhance the interview process itself.

Before I summarise the fifth stage, please bear with me as I reflect on a relevant experience I still remember from over twenty years ago.

It was the first day of my new job as a senior manger in a 12 partner firm of accountants. I was in my late 20s and I immediately knew I’d made a mistake in accepting the job offer. I had been met by the partner who had recruited me and was led up to the third floor of the offices where the other tax staff worked, well away from the rest of the staff. I arrived to find a pretty empty office, save for a filing cabinet, a chair and a desk which was piled up with files. Thereafter I was pretty much left to my own devices. Ok, I had, and still have, enormous reserves of initiative but both I and my recruiter had over-estimated how much I could do without any real guidance or support. I knew I’d made a mistake and considered going back to my previous firm almost immediately. In the event I stuck it out for 6 months before taking steps to move on.

5 – Induction. You never get a second chance to make a first impression. Over the last twenty years I have been a great advocate of induction packs for new recruits. These can be separate packs or supplemental to the statutory HR and payroll related material. The ones I have used are generally simple checklists with space for ticks and dates. Essentially they identify all the things, under various headings, that a new recruit (for the role in question) would need to know. Even in very small offices the amount of information that new recruits have to assimilate can be daunting. The checklist can become a prompt (reviewed as part of the induction process, over the first weeks and months) to help provide a balance between spoon-feeding and leaving the new recruit to use their initiative all the time.

The real value of such a checklist though is actually during the interview process. You can show it to the candidate to evidence your commitment to an effective induction process. Its mere existence can help evidence that you are not making empty promises about how you do things and how you care about your staff’s personal development and training.


So there we have it. Five simple steps that can help you win the war for talent. As a mentor to ambitious professionals I would be delighted to work with you to elaborate on each of these points.

Equally you may want to go one step beyond your competitors and evidence to potential recruits your genuine commitment to their future personal development. Imagine the impact of promising them that as part of their induction they will receive 6 or 12 months mentoring by an external expert who operates completely outside of the firm’s political processes and whose only task is to help with their ongoing personal and management development. I’d be delighted to discuss with you how this could be arranged.

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