It’s officially “busy season” for both accounting firms and accounting majors in college. During this time, events such as Meet the Firms and Career Fairs take place on college campuses where recruiters and students come together to fulfill what each are looking for in an ideal candidate and employer.
To pay homage to the importance of recruiting season, we decided to interview several recruiters from the top 35 firms across the nation to learn more about what makes their recruiting process unique, what their biggest challenges are, and what they believe are the main qualities candidates should possess to be successful in their accounting careers.
To kick off our series, here is McKenzie Campana, Campus Recruiting Manager for Armanino, LLP.
Campus Recruiting Manager
McKenzie graduated from Cal Poly in Business Administration with an Accounting concentration. She started her career with KPMG as a consultant and switched into campus recruiting after realizing her key strengths and passions were public speaking, professional development, and training. She now is the Campus Recruiting Manager for Armanino and oversees the Northern and Southern California regions. In Armanino, she has found a firm that empowers her to do more than what’s been done in the past and is proud to be a key, skeletal piece of a firm that is constantly growing.
What makes your firm unique in the recruiting process?
Although it may seem like a simple strategy, we differentiate ourselves by being transparent.
Transparency is appreciated on the candidate side since we make our recruiting process very easy for them to be successful. We do this by being approachable, straightforward, and genuine. We personalize our interaction with each candidate to figure out where they’re coming from, what they need, and how we can help them get to where they want to go. Rather than going through speed bumps trying to understand a company, we try to be upfront about who we are and where we are headed – no matter if you’re an external candidate or internal professional. In practicing this strategy, we hope to obtain transparency from our candidates as well, which is equally important in the recruiting process.
Another thing that makes our firm unique is our ability to really define what really makes Armanino great. Something I’ve noticed a lot of students ask recruiters is, “Why do you like your firm?”, and the response usually given is “The people, of course!” While this may be true for many firms, including ours, we always go a step further to emphasize what it is that makes them great, which is our 4 firm values that we hold all of our staff to embody to some capacity (something I’ll touch on in the next question). I believe that defining your culture can also differentiate you from the rest because if you can’t, candidates don’t see you as a unique employer. It also makes you more memorable in the overall recruiting process.
How does your recruiting process reflect your firm’s values and/or company culture?
Our recruiting process (i.e. consistent interactions with our brand, recruiting team, and professionals), exposes our company culture organically. We love connecting candidates with our tight-knit community, mainly so that the candidate and Armanino can assess if it’s a strong cultural fit. I believe that our people reflect the firm’s values more than any power point presentation could – by being Wickedly Smart, having Positive Energy, seeking Empowerment, and choosing a Firm-First mentality.
We encourage our professionals to portray these values by taking into consideration the diverse pool of candidates we have and tailoring each of their experiences to be personal and personable. Every candidate is different and you can’t put them all in the same mold, so we try our best to offer ourselves and our firm as resources to connect them with someone who’s gone through something similar. Whether it be career path, location, service line, or client base, giving them someone who has been in their shoes and can better relate to what they’re going through gives them better perspectives and the ability to make more informed decisions.
We also never fault a candidate for being lost. Those who know what they want to do will of course accelerate faster in the process. But for those who are still in an exploratory phase, we work with them to open up as many doors of opportunities as possible. By having conversations to help solidify their understanding of their current and future accounting path, this educational approach works well to let candidates know that Armanino is there for them every step of the way.
What would you say is the most challenging part about recruiting and how are you working to overcome this challenge?
The biggest challenge is staying relevant to our “clients” (college students). Like professional clients grow and change, so do our students. They uncover new passions, become more knowledgeable, and sometimes develop new needs. It will always be a challenge for firms to personalize the recruiting process with each candidate. It’s our job to make them feel valued by the firm, even before they start receiving a paycheck.
Our team is working to overcome this challenge by being very connected to the recruiting process. We hire recruiters who are truly invested in their job and are passionate about forming a happy marriage between students and firms. Getting to know our candidates well and understanding what our professionals need takes investment on the recruiter’s side; I like to see it as having two sets of clients. As much as I’m serving my students, I’m also serving the firm and making sure we’re bringing in top talent to make it a better place.
It’s our job to make sure both sides have a positive experience of getting to know one another and then making the decision to continue the relationship or end it (kind of like dating).
What are the most important factors when it comes to recruiting top talent at schools?
I think it’s most important to be memorable when you recruit students who will likely attract multiple employers. Super star candidates like companies who stand out (like themselves), so it’s very crucial to differentiate yourself. Usually that means identifying a unique connection between the candidate and your culture. If your connection is memorable, chances are, they will see a future with your firm.
On the other hand, for candidates who don’t really know that they’re great, I think it’s equally important to be nurturing. In this sense, our recruiters want to make sure they’re helping these candidates realize their potential, educate them about their options, and help guide them to success.
By being either memorable, nurturing, or both, the end result is that your firm is going to be remembered and trusted—and I believe these are important factors of obtaining top talent in the industry. But again, all this comes with personalizing the recruitment process.
How do you think the recruitment process will change 5 or 10 years from now?
I have a feeling the skeleton will remain, but the body will change! Although recruiting efforts were not as extensive in the past, the general process has stayed consistent. The rigidity and reliability will continue to give the process structure, but firms will always find ways to be creative and dynamic with candidate appeal. Firms will constantly be looking for new ways and approaches on how they present their brand, so while the interaction styles will change, the need for interaction will always be there.
What is your best piece of advice for candidates going through recruiting?
Define your values and start thinking about what’s important to you. As young professionals, we know that you’re still trying to figure things out, but if you can narrow down what it is you’re looking for, we can make the recruiting process a much better experience for you. So start by connecting with the right people, asking the right questions, and being honest about what you’re looking for. Then make sure you hone in on that transparency with recruiters and other professionals. We’re attracted to students who are transparent with us because it not only gives us the ability to help you better, but, more importantly, gives you the ability to help yourself more efficiently.
Other articles in this series