Recruiting financial staff for SMEs can be a struggle when you’re up against larger organisations with the brand recognition, advertising budget, and wage packet to price you out of the top talent. With recent news that the professional jobs market is on the up, it’s likely to get increasingly competitive.

New survey data from the Association of Professional Staffing Companies (APSCo) revealed that professional recruitment firms have 12% more vacancies on record than this time last year. APSCo’s data showed that growth in the professional staffing market is rising across all the trade association’s core groups. Finance and accounting vacancies grew by 13%, IT by 11%, engineering by 7%, and media and marketing by 1% showing the market’s current stability and strength.

 In such a competitive market it’s crucial that SMEs have the best recruitment tactics in order to attract and retain financial talent. With this in mind we’ve put together 4 steps that will help tip the balance in your favour.

Build your employer brand & promote your company values

 As an SME you might not have the same brand recognition as some of the larger employers, but you can still punch above your weight if you develop a strong ’employer brand’.

To build your employer brand you’ll need to give candidates an insight into what it might be like to work for you. Large employers find this difficult as they invariably present their formal corporate façade. SMEs on the other hand have more of an opportunity to show a little character. Use your website and social media presence to show off your ethos to potential candidates. You could consider running a ‘day in the life of’ feature to show what it’s like to work in finance at your company. By presenting an open, supportive, and positive working environment you can convince candidates that working for your SME is the right career decision to take.

Recruit for the right fit before qualifications

 Whilst qualifications for finance and accountancy roles are a given, once candidates have jumped over that hurdle it’s best to look to their soft-skills to evaluate how they would fit into your organisation. Working in an SME can be like being in a family, and such close quarter relationships require strong interpersonal skills. Communication and rapport building will be essential to ensure they can work closely with your existing staff, garnering their support and getting the results that you need. You’ll also need someone that’s flexible and able to manage their workload to meet the fast paced and ever changing needs of an SME.

As an SME it’s not only important to attract talent, you also need to retain it. Recruit talent that can grow with your company and the future needs of your business. Your senior financial staff will undoubtedly need replacements so you should assess every potential hire with the question “can I see this person progressing within our business?”. If the answer is yes, you could be on to a winner.

Sell the benefits of working for an SME

 When competing with larger employers, you have a perfect weapon in your arsenal; the benefits of working for a smaller company. Working for an SME means that employees are exposed to more of the business. This will give them the diversity and experience that they wouldn’t get working for a large company, helping them to grow. This growth often leads to faster career development as the employee becomes more integral and in tune with the needs of the business. It’s also important to remember to show off any benefits that your particular SME offers such as flexible working, training, and mentoring as these can all help to show that you’d be a good employer to work for.

Refine your hiring process

 A strong hiring process is well defined and efficient making the process easy to engage with for applicants. When developing a job description for a new role make sure that you have the buy in from all the relevant parties, and that you have all the information that you’ll need from the start. You don’t want to be tweaking what the job entails half way through the recruitment process as this will be disheartening for potential candidates and make it difficult for your hiring managers to evaluate candidates using the same criteria. Keep recruiters up to date throughout the recruitment process so they can keep candidates informed ensuring that even unsuccessful candidates are left with a positive experience of your company.

By following these tips you’ll develop a reputation as an employer that people want to work for, helping you to attract quality talent and reduce staff attrition.

Written by Financial Staffing Solutions, specialist financial recruiters covering all accountancy and financial roles. If you’re looking to hire a finance or accounting professional, then get in touch: – 020 8532 2644

If you apply for a job, talk to a recruiter, or even make an informal enquiry with an employer, it’s more than likely that they’re going to check out your LinkedIn profile. Social screening has become a go-to step in the recruitment process and whilst your other social profiles such as Facebook and Instagram should be set to private, your LinkedIn profile should stand proud.

Whether you’ve developed a killer CV or made a great impression over the phone, if your LinkedIn profile is lacking you’ll be leaving some serious doubts in their mind.

During LinkedIn’s early years, LinkedIn profiles were basic; a near copy of a CV. Nowadays a LinkedIn profile can be so much more. It’s a chance to elaborate on your experience, showing the effects that you’ve had in previous roles, whilst elucidating your value to prospective employers.

In this post we’re going to give you the advice you’ll need to make your CV standout from the crowd, enticing employers and recruiters alike.

Include your contact details

 It might be one of the most obvious steps, but it’s amazing how many people fail to include up-to date contact details. Ensure that your email address is professional and one that you check regularly. If you’re really serious about networking it’s also a good idea to include your phone number. You can even add your Twitter profile if it’s going to show you in a good light.

Match your profile to your chosen audience

 When it comes to your audience and the language that you use, LinkedIn profiles can be a little tricky. A CV can be re-worded and tailored to match each employer. When writing your LinkedIn profile, you have a decision to make; be more general to attract a wider range of employer or be specific and tailored.

That decision will rightly depend on your situation but if you can it’s better to focus your profile on your primary job target. Being specific will help you avoid presenting a confusing profile, letting an employer digest your experience and skills with ease.

Write an engaging profile headline

Your profile headline is probably more important than you might think. To put this to the test, open LinkedIn in a new tab and search ‘People’ for any role that comes to mind. Just like a Google search you’ll be presented with a taster of limited information; a name, a photo and a headline is all that you get to entice the reader. Writing ‘Financial Accountant at Pro-logic Incorporated’ just isn’t enough anymore. Think of it like writing a front page headline, if it’s boring the paper will never sell.  Go one step further by describing your responsibilities, niche specialisms and value proposition such as ‘Helping SME’S increase their sales and profits while reducing risk.’

Add a profile summary

The next step is to write a detailed yet succinct profile summary. The idea of your profile summary is to give employers a snapshot of your skills and experience to encourage them to read more. When you’re writing a profile summary, think about the buzzwords that employers might search for.

The key is to include the number of years’ experience that you have, your job title, the skills that set you aside from other candidates and one or two achievements from your career history that show your worth to an employer. This should help them to imagine you in the role that they are hoping to fill by thinking about the effect you may have in the workplace.

Choose your photo wisely

 Your photo is one of the first things that an employer or recruiter will see. Making a good impression is a must and trust us, getting the right photo will take some time and thought. The good news is you don’t need a professional to take it, just a decent smart phone and a patient photographer.

Unless you have a picture that suits LinkedIn already, it’s best to get one taken just for LinkedIn. To set the scene, choose a background that isn’t distracting such as a wall painted in one colour. Be dressed in something professional that you would wear to work. Ideally you want it from the shoulders up, with your face taking up at least 60% of the photo (no long distance artsy shots). Finally, remember to choose the right expression. You want to seem friendly and approachable, whilst avoiding looking like the office clown.

Add an honest and detailed work history

 It’s essential that you include an honest and detailed work history. LinkedIn is in the public domain so avoid the temptation to inflate any of your responsibilities. If you are looking to move up the ranks, you’re going to need to give honest examples of how you’ve worked at that level.

Encourage your contacts to endorse your skills and ask for recommendations   

 Endorsements and recommendations can help to give your profile real gravitas. They show that people are willing to put their reputation on the line for you. For endorsements one of the best ways to encourage endorsements is to endorse your contacts. Endorse them for their key skills and they may well repay the favour.

When it comes to recommendations, the best way to get them is to ask. Contact colleagues that you’ve worked with closely in the past. Explain to them that you are hoping to improve your LinkedIn profile and that you would like a recommendation about your skills and work ethos. A well written recommendation is one of the best things you can get for your LinkedIn profile so you should see this step as a matter of urgency.

Quantify your achievements with supporting stats

 Employers love quantifiable information. Statistics offer evidence to support any of your achievements, and they let an employer see the effects that you’ve had in a previous role in numbers, especially important for finance roles. One thing to be aware of though is to avoid including any sensitive information such as company figures, opt for percentages where necessary.

Share or publish interesting content and join relevant groups

 To get even more out of LinkedIn it can be a great idea to share or publish interesting content. If you can share content that is useful to other LinkedIn users you’ll be able to carve out a reputation as someone that is active within your industry.

To take it to the next step you could even consider publishing your own blogs to share your expertise with the wider world. By writing thought provoking and useful content you can show that you’re a thought leader. If your contacts share your content they’ll be actively promoting your LinkedIn profile to their contacts.

The final cherry on the top is to join relevant LinkedIn groups, sharing your own content and engaging in insightful discussions with people in your sector. Manage all of these steps and you’ll be well on your way to becoming a master of LinkedIn. What are you waiting for?

Your LinkedIn profile should reflect a superb CV.  If you need a little extra help to sharpen them up, call us for advice on 020 8532 2644 and don’t forget to connect with us on LinkedIn.

 For more tips, market news, salary surveys, and the latest career opportunities download our app, it’s completely free.

Written by Financial Staffing Solutions, specialist financial recruiters covering all accountancy and financial roles. If you’re looking for a new position within this sector, or need to hire a finance professional, then get in touch: – 020 8532 2644

Like buying a house, getting married, or going through a divorce, an interview is one of those stressful situations that make candidates break out in a sweat. Having helped thousands through the interview stage we know that the best way to overcome interview stress is to be well prepared. That’s why we’ve put together this essential interview checklist to help you put your best foot forward.

Pre-interview preparation

Make sure you know the format of the interview and what’s expected of you

Before your interview check out what the format will be. Is it going to be a panel interview or a one to one interview? Will it involve any tests or will you be required to give a presentation? Often this information will be provided for you by the recruiter or employer but if there is limited information don’t be too shy to ask.

Look up who’ll be interviewing you

On many occasions you’ll find out from the HR department or recruiter who’ll be interviewing you in advance. If you don’t, you can check with your contact or recruiter to find out. This will give you the advantage of being able to do a little background research. Having a little information about what makes your interviewer tick and what their specialities are could help you to connect with them and give you the edge on other candidates. If you have a strong social media presence, that will leave a good impression and you could even connect with them on social media.

Research the company

Researching the company is one of the most important steps in your preparation. As well as finding out information about the company in general, it’s also useful to find out what projects they are involved in, if they have taken on any new clients, or if they’ve made any new appointments recently.

If they have a blog or news section on their website, this is a great place to start. You should also google their company for any mentions on industry sites or external blogs, as well as seeing what updates are on LinkedIn or Twitter about the company. This gives you the opportunity to discuss things that you’ve learned about their company in an interview showcasing your research skills and proactivity. If you’re lucky you may even be able to relate your skills and experience to a challenge or project that they’re facing at the moment.

Think of examples that prove you have the skills and experience they’re looking for

To show to an employer why you are the candidate for the job you’ll need to provide examples that showcase your skills and experience. To help you structure your answers you can use the well-known STAR model. Firstly set the scene by describing the situation of your example. The next step is to explain the task or activity that required your input. Follow this up by describing the action that you took, and finally round up your example by summarising the result of your actions.

Write a list of questions you’d like to ask them

An interview should be a two way street. As well as allowing an employer to find out whether you are the right candidate, it is your opportunity to assess whether the company and role is right for you. When deciding what to ask steer clear of questions about company benefits, annual leave and pay increments and instead focus on elements important to your role and department. You could ask what may be expected of you in your first month or year, or ask about challenges they are facing in your department at the moment.

Make sure you know where the company is

Woe betides the interviewee that gets lost on the day and turns up late. If you need to, do a dry-run to ensure your journey goes as smoothly as possible.


On the day

Dress to impress

First impressions are important.  If you’re not sure what the dress code is, formal is always best. It’s a rare occasion that you can offend by over dressing but under dressing can be seriously off-putting to a potential employer.

Have your paper work in order

Have copies of your CV, a copy of the job ad, and a notepad containing your background research & questions for the company to hand. Not only will this give you the opportunity to have a quick glance whilst you’re waiting to go in, it will also help to show to an employer that you’re organised. They may even ask to see your CV on the day and having one to hand is always a plus.

Prepare a portfolio with examples of your work or certificates of your qualifications

For certain roles it can be beneficial to have examples of your work or certificates with you on the day. Evidence is king and it can often be the determining factor in successfully getting the job.

Take anything you’ve been asked to prepare with you

If you’ve been asked to prepare anything for your interview, make sure you have it on the day. It’s also worth having it in different formats in case there are any technology issues on the day, as well as the bonus of being able to give out physical copies to the interviewers which they can keep after your interview.

Have a bottle of water

Whilst it’s likely that your interviewer will offer you a drink, just in case they don’t, it’s a good idea to have your own. Nerves have a tendency to dry your throat and sipping water can also provide extra thinking time if there’s a question you want to consider.

A strong smile, a firm handshake and positive body language

When you’re introduced to the interviewer make sure that you smile and extend a healthy handshake. When you’re in the interview lean in slightly towards the interviewer to show interest and avoid confrontational or defensive positions such as crossing your arms. Maintain eye contact with the interviewer to show confidence (even if you’re panicking on the inside) and listen carefully to ensure that you’re providing the right information.

With the right preparation behind you you’ll be ready to ace the interview and get this job. Good luck on the big day!

Are you thinking of changing jobs this coming year? If so, be sure to download our app for Android or iPhone today.


If you’re like many of the candidates we come into contact with, you’re probably always looking for ways to further your career and better yourself professionally. With that in mind, three articles have caught our attention this week that we wanted to share with you.

The first looks at the integral role of Finance in leveraging the business wins to be had from Big Data. Is this perhaps a cause you should be championing in your organisation?

Finance Should Hurry to the Big Data Party
The second pick this week shares some great insights on how your fellow accountants are leveraging social media to great effect in their professional lives. Could you be doing more with this?

How other Accountants are using social media

Last but not least, some interesting insights derived from a Deloitte survey looking at how Finance departments could make the Management Information they produce more insightful:

3 ways to improve the quality of management information

Hope you also find these interesting – and of course if you’re toying with a career move, feel free to call us and we’d be delighted to help.

Job interview preparation is a key ingredient in securing that next Accounting or Finance career move you’re aspiring to. You’ve put in all that effort to perfect your CV; you’ve worked with a recruitment agency like ours to secure the right interviews – so don’t fall at the final hurdle through insufficient interview prep.

Here are three articles that’ll help you be fully prepared for that next opportunity. The first gives you a head-start if you might have to tackle phone interviews:

Why Phone Interviews Are So Hard-and How to Ace Them Anyway

Then there’s the critical issue of preparing for tough interview questions

Prepare For Difficult Interview Questions | CAREEREALISM

Last – but by no means least – is the critical issue of why you want to work for that particular company. Getting your answer to this one right can go a long way towards securing that job offer

4 Better Ways to Answer “Why Do You Want to Work at This Company?”

Hope these pointers help – and from all the team at Financial Staffing Solutions, good luck in that next interview.

Career Tips and Business Ideas for Finance and Accounting Professionals – here’s our latest round-up of great reads sourced from around the web. Whether you’re looking to market your accountancy practice or embark on a job search, there’s something here for you.

First up, a couple of great posts for anyone keen to raise the profile of their accounting practice and generate more referral business and sales leads. Replace the word “Consulting” in this first post with “Accountancy” and you’ve got some great insights on actionable steps for your business:

Is Your Consulting Firm Top of Mind?

In a similar vein, intriguing ideas here on how changing the way you describe your services and the impact they will have on clients can dramatically improve the new business wins you bring in:

Marketing Tip: Sell them ideas!

And last but not least – an excellent write-up from a former recruiter about working effectively with a recruitment agency to secure your next career move:

How to make recruiters work for you: be punctual, serious and respectful
Of course if you’re toying with a career move, feel free to call us and we’d be delighted to help.

Whether your goal is to attract more clients to your accounting business or to secure a new role in the financial industry, you can further your career and achieve your goals by better leveraging digital and social channels.

How? Try following our simple steps to stand out from the crowd – whether that be competing businesses or other jobseekers.

How To Boost Your Accounting / Finance Career

Step 1 – Ensure you can be found

The most important step in becoming more digitally savvy is to make sure you can be found online.

If you want to be head-hunted by financial recruiters, or you would like your accountancy practice to be found by prospective clients, they must be able to find you to begin with.

With millions of websites and social profiles online it can be easy to get lost amongst them.

One of the first things to consider is what keywords are recruiters and prospective clients going to search for when looking for candidates/business partners? Brainstorm possible keywords and then incorporate them into your Social Profiles/ Blog / Business Website. For example, a candidate might target keywords a recruiter may use for a specific role: eg. Chartered Accountant London – and then look to expand on the skills and experience related keywords that might relate to such a position (hint: search in related job adverts to find ideas for suitable keywords, they’ll stand out as the things recruiters are looking for in that hire)

You should look to pepper these target keywords in places such as your LinkedIn headline, job titles, summary, skills section and descriptions of your current and previous roles. Ideally take this a step further and incorporate them into other social profiles such as Twitter and Google+.

For a prospective client searching for a practice, their target keywords may be: Small Accountancy Firm London. Add these keywords throughout your website: page titles, various web pages, meta titles and descriptions. Although it is important to add these keywords throughout your entire website, please be mindful that it must read naturally. Also include these in your social profiles, as often your profiles may actually rank higher on Google than your SME website.

This task is a must to ensure you are found online, because many recruiters and prospective clients will begin their search on Google or on LinkedIn

Step 2 – Ensure your story is compelling

Now that you have mastered how to drive recruiters / prospective clients to your online presence, it is imperative that what they see there inspires them.

There is no point driving traffic to your Social Profile / Website only for them to be disappointed and leave straight away. Make sure that once they find you, they want to contact you.

With regards to Social Profiles, that means writing compelling summaries focused on your achievements, adding past project examples, and sharing interesting financial content to engage with like-minded professionals.

Similarly, with your practice’s website you must ensure that your website is user friendly, easy to navigate and gets your business’s message across simply. What services do you offer? For what sort of clients? Do you have testimonials from satisfied customers? Are your contact details easy to find and do you offer several different ways for people to get in touch? If your practice’s message is unclear and the website is complicated to use, prospective clients are going to leave in search of a better website and in turn, another practice.

Step 3 – Become a thought leader

You have now successfully driven recruiters and / or prospective clients to your Social Profile / Website and got them to the point where they are interested in you. Now it is time to show off your expertise.

One of the best ways to highlight your experience and knowledge within your niche sector is to create relevant content and share it.

Ensure that you have a compelling blog with interesting feature articles and facts and figures about the financial industry, anything you know prospective clients or employers will find informative to read. Create this all on your website or publish on your LinkedIn profile. This may sound time consuming, but not all the posts have to be that long and they could just be you offering some thoughts or insights on some of the latest financial news.

With regards to looking for work, publish content on your LinkedIn profile, share updates with your LinkedIn network, contribute to other financial industry blogs or indeed start your own.

Creating your own content will highlight your expertise within your niche and help you secure a new job, or work with a new client. By creating insightful content within the financial sector you take the steps to becoming a thought leader and building professional credibility for yourself.

Step 4 – Build your influence & visibility

Lastly, you need to ensure all your social profiles are complete and updated regularly.

By now you have a website / social profiles that are optimised to be found for target keywords and they are filled with compelling content proving you to be a thought leader within the Financial industry. This is all fantastic, but you must also remember the power of Social Media.

Social Media platforms are a great way to create a network of contacts within your niche. Use your Social Profiles to share relevant financial news, your own content, reshare interesting updates, comment on other people’s posts / updates and get in front of the top influencers in the Financial industry. Follow people that you find interesting, and chances are if they see that you’re sharing content that is relevant to them they’ll follow back.

Once you have built a strong brand on Social Media you can successfully put yourself and / or your practice in front of many people within your industry and if an influencer shares your updates, the door will open to many more opportunities. So log onto your Social Media Platforms and get tweeting, liking and linking. It’s more integral to your career success than ever before.

Are you thinking of changing jobs this coming year? If so, be sure to download our app for Android or iPhone today.

Finance and Accounting insights – here’s our latest round-up of great reads sourced from around the web. If you’re pursuing a career in Finance and Accounting hope you find these interesting. If you’re toying with a career move, feel free to call us if you’d like to discuss your next career move.

George Osborne’s Autumn Statement is dissected by Tax Research UK:

What Osborne forgot to say: austerity does not guarantee the government balances its books
And two announcements designed to combat international tax avoidance are examined: AS 2014: Crackdown on hybrids and diverting profits

While elsewhere the QuickBooks blog looks at startups and the areas of a startup’s budget where cutting corners is never a smart idea:

Startup Finances: Where NOT to Cut Corners

Here’s our round-up of great candidate reads from around the web, for anyone pursuing a career in Finance and Accounting.

Has your finance career stalled? Are you seeing the career progression you would like in your current role? Here are steps you can take to get your career moving forward again (or alternatively call us to pursue other opportunities):

Avoid a career stall

Ever applied for a role that looked perfect – and yet your application didn’t even secure you an interview? Here are a few reasons your application might have been overlooked, and what you can do to make sure your next one stands out:

3 Reasons Overqualified Candidates Don’t Get Job Offers

The London jobs market has rebounded – so now’s a great time to start looking at your career options. Some quick insights about how well the finance sector jobs market is doing:

The City’s back: Financial sector above pre-crash peak

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