Editor's Note: This post was originally published September 2016 , before WeiserMazars LLP's name changed to Mazars USA LLP.
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. Earlier this week, we featured McKenzie Campana from Armanino, LLP, Katherine Charchalis from BDO, LLP, Jennifer Matsuura and Nancy Choi from HCVT, LLP, and Blane Ruschak from KPMG.
We end our series by chatting with Chris Roberts, Leading Talent Management and Employee Experience at WeiserMazars LLP.
Leading Talent Management and Employee Experience
Chris has worked in HR for over 15 years and has been involved in many aspects of the profession including recruitment and talent management. After graduating from the University of the West of England with a Post Graduate degree in Human Resources, Chris embarked on a career in the UK and France before settling in the United States.
What makes your firm unique in the recruiting process?
We don’t just cast large nets hoping to catch the best candidates. Our strategy is to build long-term relationships with students throughout the year by attending Beta Alpha Psi, Accounting Society, and other social events rather than simply relying on annual career fairs. And we do not just recruit on campus. We meet talented students at other events attended by our Partners and school alum, which gives students the opportunity to get to know us and vice-versa.
We also differentiate ourselves from other firms by spending time getting to know our contacts within the Careers Centers of each of our target schools. By forming a relationship not just with the students but also with the Career Centers, we ensure they know what WeiserMazars offers in terms of an entry-level career as well as allows us to understand their goals and what their students are looking for.
Lastly, we encourage students who are interested in public accounting to come to our offices to meet with Staff or Senior Associates to talk about a day in their professional life, the challenges of studying for the CPA Exam early on, and to gain advice on entering the profession.
How does your recruiting process reflect your firm’s values and/or company culture?
WeiserMazars is a client-focused and entrepreneurial firm that cares about its clients and team members. We never take a cookie cutter approach when it comes to forming relationships. Even though we have a framework for the interview process, we always take the time to get to know every candidate and introduce them to various people along the way. This gives them a true sense of who we are and what we stand for.
Client-focused, entrepreneurial, and demonstrating a caring attitude are critical in our recruiting process, which means that we look beyond academic achievement when selecting candidates. We identify candidates who can reinforce our culture via volunteer experience; leadership roles on campus; innovative thinking; and supporting team members.
What would you say is the most challenging part about recruiting and how are you working to overcome this challenge?
Companies face many challenges when recruiting today, such as candidates receiving multiple offers at the same time, and keeping up with rapid changes in trends in use of social media and Apps. Both impact how we manage our online reputation and what we offer in terms of a candidate/ employment experience.
We are working to overcome these challenges by ensuring that every student has a great experience when they meet us at events or during the recruitment process. We want them to feel like VIPs and for them to take away something positive or helpful after meeting us, even if it does not result in an employment opportunity.
As far as social media is concerned, our HR and Marketing teams work closely together to push content via various platforms such as LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook and Instagram so that candidates get a sense of our culture as well as our industry expertise. They do a great job of highlighting the fun side of public accounting and promoting social or charity events to show that the industry is really about people and not just numbers.
We also ensure that our offer matches expectations by continually talking to students on campus, meeting with our contacts at the Career Centers in our target schools, and checking in with recent entry-level hires to get their perspective on their recruitment and employment experience. All of this helps us implement and improve our recruiting process.
What are the most important factors when it comes to recruiting top talent at schools?
I think it’s important to note that companies no longer recruit top talent at schools; it’s the top talent that chooses companies. The recruitment process becomes a little easier once a firm understands this.
One of our strategies to attract top talent is to offer internships. This enables students to gain a ‘real world’ experience of accounting, learn more about the industry, and develop valuable business skills. Very often, interns are entering a professional environment for the first time, and they quickly realize that public accounting is demanding but not as overwhelming as they first thought.
Our interns also get to work and interact with our Partners. It is easy to be intimidated by the thought of interacting with a partner; however, our interns quickly discover that they are regular human beings just like the rest of us that have outside interests, families, and the same daily experiences we all do.
Last but not least, we treat our interns just like any other member of the team by involving them in training, social events, volunteering opportunities, and taking an active interest in their academic/professional development. Many of our interns receive and accept offers to join us upon graduation as a result of their experience with us. Some have never left the firm and recently made Partner, which is a great story to tell at recruiting events!
How do you think the recruitment process will change 5 or 10 years from now?
The increased use and evolution of technology will undoubtedly continue to impact not only the recruitment process but also the recruitment industry. Companies, such as ours, will need to focus more and more on authentic branding and streamlining the application process to engage talented candidates.
Technology is also increasing the digital footprint of candidates themselves via social media platforms, such as LinkedIn. Recruiters increasingly rely on this tool since it’s a living profile. We are even seeing candidates creating their own websites to brand their unique value to potential employers. I do not believe that it is totally impossible to predict the decline of the traditional resume over the next 5 to 10 years in favor of more dynamic recruitment tools.
Yet whatever the evolution of tech may be in the recruitment process, we must keep in mind that recruiting is a human process and that face-to-face interaction is critical. At the end of the day, we want to work and do business with people we like and respect, not just people who look good on paper.
What is your best piece of advice for students going through recruitment?
One piece of advice I’d like to give to candidates is to be honest. When you’re talking to a recruiter, be yourself and be genuine. We can spot the people who are saying what they think we want to hear and that’s exactly who we’re not looking for. Every company, including ours, wants to work with individuals who can make a difference to our clients and teams; we want people to be true to themselves.
Other articles in this series