Finding good reliable staff is a difficult task in any profession. I hear from my small business clients all the time about their travails with this exact topic, so when it came time in my own practice to hire employees, I was dreading it.
I recruited my first employee from a former accounting professor. I wanted someone with a very particular set of skills that I knew the candidate would get from that professor. The entire process took place through email – even the initial interview. I was so overwhelmed at the time that all I could manage was a virtual interview. Looking back, this approach seemed to work because the interview email actually told me a lot about the candidate, including their ability to write an email clearly and concisely without texting language. Even though I eventually did have a face-to-face interview, truthfully, I was sold in that initial email exchange.
This experience set me up for a much easier time with other new employees, all of whom were hired virtually. One member of my team was even found through Facebook; he posted in his feed that he was looking, so after little back and forth through Facebook Messenger, we were done and the deal was sealed.
I come from the generation that was taught to show up to an interview dressed in business attire with a freshly typed resume in hand. In the past, I did the typical dance of placing the ad and conducting the rounds of interviews, where I applied the same standards I was taught to those candidates. However, as each year passed and the generations changed, sticking to this process became more and more difficult. My bar was lowered and put askew many times. Things that were not acceptable in the past slowly became acceptable.
I discovered that what I truthfully cared about has absolutely nothing to do with a candidate showing up to an interview looking professional; instead, I care about things being done on time, good communication, accuracy and reliability. I don’t care if someone has reliable transportation … reliable internet, yes! When it comes to looking for new staff to hire, let’s just say the old traditional way is gone. If you post smartly in the right places and look for what your business actually needs, and not what you want, you’ll find your staff. And, please, don’t use Craigslist.
My entire staff is mobile. It’s their choice where, when and how they work. I’d like to think that is one of the perks of working for my firm.
Working in the cloud has changed my entire process for everything. To me, there is no other way to work, and am frequently shaking my head when I hear what my clients or colleagues are doing in their businesses with their employees. I wonder why they are making it so hard! Everything is so much easier with the cloud: communication, exchange of information and providing the necessary tools. Tasks that take my counterparts inordinate amounts of time and energy to do takes me just a few clicks in a matter of seconds.
Everything is tracked in the cloud. Communications about client tasks, document exchanges, audit histories in working applications and so much more. Collaboration is effortless. Within Intuit® ProConnect™ Tax Online and QuickBooks® Online Accountant, for example, I can see what my staff is doing regardless where they are. We can also work on the same file at the same time to work through issues. I have clients upload the necessary docs into either Intuit Link or the “My Accountant” section of QuickBooks Online Accountant, and my staff has access to it. Within any of these programs, my staff has the tools they need, whatever the device. I don’t have to make sure the apps are updated, and I control which clients they see and which they can work on.
Having a mobile workforce has its advantages. My costs are lower and employees are happier. The cloud enables me to hire some very talented people in a non-traditional setting. I employ a single mom who is also a stay-at-home mom. Another member of my team is an awkward young man who probably wouldn’t do so well in most job settings. The cloud has also not limited the pool of talent I can delve into; the next employee I hire can be anywhere in the world. I look forward to that!
Editor’s note: The Intuit ProConnect Tax Pro Center recently ran “The Tipping Point of Moving to the Cloud,” which is an interesting read for practitioners who are still on the fence about working in the cloud. Check it out.