For bookkeeping help and advice: 01462 455 455

You may be looking to recruit a bookkeeper for your business and don’t really know where to start and so this blog may well be timely for you.

As a bookkeeping practice, we have had the pleasure and the challenge of recruiting good bookkeepers for our own business but also for others as well and so we thought we should share some experiences with you.

There are two key things to know and accept before you start.

The first thing you need to know is that finding a great bookkeeper is not an easy thing to do.  So don’t expect to get flooded with brilliant applications by just placing an advert.  You will need to be a little more inventive than that.

The second thing you need to know is that you are going to have to sift through CVs from people who have no relevant experience and candidates who can’t even recall applying for the position when you phone them. How can that be?  Well it’s purely that it’s so easy to apply online for positions – you often don’t even have to explain how you meet the requirements for the position or want to be considered for the role – at a click of button you can apply for any position.  So, as painful as it may seem, it’s something we have to accept in order to find the gems and great bookkeepers amongst them.

So, where do you start with your bookkeeping opportunity?  Here are 5 top tips that we would recommend you do;

Be really clear about exactly what you want.

The first question to consider is whether you are actually looking for an employee or would an independent freelancer or even an outsourced bookkeeping practice be a better option for you?  This will depend on a whole variety of elements and the nature of your business and the level of commitment you want to make to the person.

Next, know that the skill level and level of responsibility of bookkeepers can vary hugely.  Are you just looking for someone who can enter financial data into a system or are you looking for someone with accounting expertise who can carry out your full bookkeeping processes up to trial balance?  Are they working in an independent bookkeeper role or will they have support and supervision?

What are the hours you need them to work?  If you are looking for a full-time employee then that’s great.  If you are looking for part-time, think about how you can make this flexible or attractive to high calibre people who are looking for part-time or flexible roles as these hours can be very sought after.

Define your criteria for selection at the outset.  As well as creating your job description, a list of what you need in terms of experience, qualifications, skills and attributes is essential as this forms the basis for what you need.

Go looking for them

As I said at the beginning, good bookkeepers can be hard to find and so it is unlikely to be as simple as placing an advertisement.

As well as placing advertisments, you really need to go and look for good applicants.  There are a few easy ways you can do this;

  • Use your connections.  If you are a networker or have a good profile on social media, tell your connections you are recruiting, what you are looking for and ask them to spread the word for you.  Ask people for introductions to good bookkeepers that they know.  They may not have been looking for a new opportunity but may well consider it if it is presented to them.
  • Use Linkedin to identify potential applicants.  You can do this simply by using the advanced search function with key words and it will put up profiles for people who are in similar roles.  You can then connect with them and send them a message to let them know about your vacancy.  If you do not have a paid subscription with Linked in, you may be asked to upgrade and this may be something you choose to do for a temporary period whilst you recruit.
  • Use the job sites to search for CVs.  Very often these are free to search for suitable CVs for your position and you only pay if you want to contact a candidate through the website to tell them about your vacancy.

Sell the opportunity like you sell your products or services

In our businesses we are used to promoting what we do for our customers.  Well recruiting actually also requires a very similar approach.  If you put yourself in the shoes of a potential applicant, then if you are going to make a big life changing move, which changing your job is, you need to be shown the benefits to you of making the move to this new position.

So, how can you do this?

  1. Well it all starts with the information that you put together about the job.  I mentioned earlier about the importance of having a job description and a criteria which you will want to give to potential applicants.  However, this document should also tell the applicants about the company, it’s values and what makes it a great place to work.  You could even ask your existing staff to help you with this – what is it that they like about working for you that you can use as your selling points?
  2. If you are creating an advert, make it appealing and attractive to them.  Can you make it stand out from other adverts for similar roles? Sell the strengths of the company and as an employer.
  3. When you interview your candidates, give them a really nice welcoming experience and tell them more about the company and even show them round.  Give them a feeling of how good it is to work with you and your colleagues.

Involve someone with bookkeeping expertise

If you don’t have bookkeeping expertise yourself, then make sure that you have someone involved in your recruitment process that does who can help to assess their bookkeeping skills.

This may be someone else in your business, the previous postholder or perhaps your accountant.

At The Bookkeeping Department, as we are bookkeepers ourselves, we help companies recruit as we know how to attract and to test them to make sure that they really are the great bookkeepers that they tell us at interview that they are.

Test, test, test

As part of your selection process, you will I’m sure want to interview them and find out about them and the experience that they bring to the position.

However, alongside this we would also strongly recommend that you put in place some way of assessing their skills so that you can get a stronger picture of whether they can do the job you want them to do.    The last thing you want is to appoint someone and then find they can’t do the job as you will have wasted your time and money and delayed you appointing someone who can do the job.

There are a several ways in the selection process that you can assess and test them.

  • Scenario based questions are very useful for providing them with situations that they would deal with and find out how they would deal with them.
  • Ask for examples of where they have done certain elements of the role to find out if they have actual experience of doing it and also to hear from them how they went about it.
  • Give them tests to do.  For a bookkeeper this may include;
    • A data entry test to assess their pace of work and their accuracy
    • An attention to detail test where they have to compare two sets of data to find the differences
    • An analysis test.  Giving them a set of data to interpret, make judgements about or to identify anomalies or issues within.
    • An intray test which gives them a set of tasks which they are asked to prioritise and then say how they would deal with.  This is to assess how they work and ability to manage their workload.
    • Questions about bookkeeping and how to deal with certain transactions within accounts.
    • An entry exercise on to a bookkeeping software

We hope that these tips of some help to you in finding a great bookkeeper.

At The Bookkeeping Department, as well as supporting our clients by providing bookkeeping services, we also help companies recruit their own bookkeeper so please don’t hesitate to contact us for a no obligation chat to help steer you in the right direction.  Email: or Tel: 01462 455455.