5 Ways to Build a Bridge for Top Talent: A Guide for CPAs
I see it all the time. A firm extends a job offer to a highly qualified candidate only to have the offer rejected. The partners are shocked. Moreover, they’re faced with the daunting task of continuing the search for another ideal candidate.
What happened? The Fear Factor. Moving up the career ladder often involves taking a leap into the unknown.
Business today is fast and furious. Details can get lost. And, sometimes, partners simply don’t realize that what they take for granted is not clearly visible to a candidate.
In my work coaching public accounting executives, I regularly advise partners to provide a safety net and build a bridge for the candidate as part of the job offer. A transition bridge provides support and a link from where the candidate is coming to where they are headed.
The bridge isn’t a relocation package. It’s not tangible. It’s an emotional support built to ease fears that might keep that ideal candidate firmly planted where they are rather than moving up and on – to your firm.
The bridge is a critical step in closing the deal with candidates moving into positions of Manager and above. This is where things can get scary for someone, primarily due to the fear of business development responsibilities as well as expanded staff management and leadership expectations.
Many candidates will project a confidence, even cockiness, that leads partners to believe the individual doesn’t have such fears. Most often, cockiness is a cover. Don’t be fooled.
How to Build a Bridge for Top Talent
- Have The Conversation. Address potential fears. Let the candidate know it’s normal and expected. Give the candidate the chance to ask any and all questions they might have.
- Focus on Performance Goals and Activity Habits. Don’t set financial goals for the first two years. Instead identify the habits which lead to successful sales.
- Lead bi-monthly lunch and learn workshops with at least 3 qualified prospects and 1 current client in attendance in each.
- Initiate 3 joint client visits each month with a Partner.
This will remove the ambiguity of “Where do I start?”, “Am I doing the right things?”, “Am I doing enough?” It allows you to discuss exactly what are and aren’t quality business development actions. Once business development habits are solidified, the employee will know how to deliver on financial sales goals.
- Outline Mentor Relationship. Emphasize that the firm will provide a mentor(s) all the way across the bridge. Give detail to how the relationship will work. Cleary state the employee is responsible to lead and initiate and give examples, but the mentor(s) will be there to coach and guide. Put in writing:
- The Firm’s Commitments to the Candidate.
-Clearly state who at the firm will be their mentor.
-Specify all career development to be provided.
-Identify cross-selling training
-Set a clear timeline covering up to 2 years.
- The Candidate’s Commitments to the Firm.
-Specify the number of expected new business contacts.
-Specify the number of events to be attended.
-List activities, client presentations & cross-selling goals.
-Note available educational courses, classes and workshops.
-Identify recommended Professional Associations.
- Involve the Significant Other. When possible, invite the candidate and their significant other to dinner. Open a dialogue. The candidate’s partner will have concerns related to the family as a unit. Getting to know that individual and providing answers to their specific questions will further build trust. If the significant other feels comfortable and is on-board with the job transition, there’s a much higher rate of job acceptance and retention.
Taking these steps will keep your chosen candidate, while teetering on the edge of making a decision, from feeling as though they are stepping into an abyss. Building the bridge is your responsibility but, everyone must cross it together.
For more articles on management and leadership check out our CPA Career Blog Library.
For 17 years, I’ve worked exclusively with CPA firms across the U.S. to locate top talent. How can I help you? Connect with me on LinkedIn.