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“Candidate Requirement: BA Degree.” Rethinking Your Hires

Have you ever had the experience of looking for a job and realized that you have all of the requirements except for that four-year degree? Or maybe you’re looking to place an ad for an employee and you think you need to add that to the requirements? While there is a place for degrees, certificates and higher educations, they aren’t always the best factor in determining the true value that employee will have in your business.

When starting our tax business, our first thought was that we needed to find employees that had accounting degrees or tax certifications. Pretty quickly we realized that wasn’t true. We weren’t a firm that had workhorse employees stashed in cubicles in the back. What we needed were employees that had good interpersonal skills. They would be calling clients, interacting with them during meetings, and reassuring them that everything was okay. Let’s face it, no one wants to get their taxes done. If you’re faced with someone that isn’t welcoming, it makes the experience even harder. We started to fill out our staff with people that had the personalities to handle the job, and trained what they didn’t already know.

We looked for people that had the right combination of customer service personalities, a drive for ownership, and the ability to communicate. People that had four years of experience in the field took precedent over four years of book learning. They were the employees who had already stepped into this life and knew they wanted to continue.

Our second receptionist was our best hire. We had originally hired a receptionist with a four-year degree in business management and a glowing resume. But her personality turned clients away. We started looking for a replacement. Our second receptionist had little experience in the tax field. But she was warm and welcoming. She remembered each and every client and greeted them all by name when they came in the door. She became the face and voice of our company. What she needed to learn about our systems and taxation, we trained on the job. When we sold the company, the first thing the potential buyers wanted to know was would she stay and help them too.

In this age of online training, community college courses, and professional development systems, training an employee to the specifics of your business isn’t as difficult as it once was. Finding that person who can shine through and represent your company in the best light has far more value. So, go ahead and chat up that barista that knows everyone’s coffee order at 6 in the morning. They could be solid gold!

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