This blog was originally published on the AICPA’s subsidiary,,website. Maribel is a member of the Advisory Board for and the AICPA Digital CPA Conference. As an advisory board member, Maribel helps empower CPAs and businesses for the digital age.

It’s no secret that staffing a CPA firm with truly qualified candidates has been a challenge for quite some time.   As I describe our recruiting troubles to others, they inevitably comment, “It should be no problem with the unemployment rates we have been experiencing.”  Not so.  The common concerns within our industry circles have always been the same: candidates need to possess accounting skills as well as common sense, organizational skills, attention to details, ability to close the loop, and a commitment to quality service.   Quite a package!  And for digital CPA firms, it is getting more complicated.

The digital CPA firm requires an additional skill set to the standard package.  Our next recruitment ad will say to candidates, “We want you if you have the following:”

  • Curiosity – We are leading with innovation.  You must have the curiosity that drives us to find better ways of doing things and new and improved technologies to implement them.
  • Fearlessness – speak up! –  We want to hear all your ideas even if we don’t implement them.  In fact, don’t let the experience of implementing an idea that fails keep you from proposing new ideas.  Keep thinking outside the box and generating new ideas.
  • Embrace the “first mover advantage” – also known as “technological leadership” or the advantage gained by first entrant into the market. This is a significant aspect of innovation and one that will help our firm maintain that “edge” over our competitors.
  • Enthusiasm and motivation – Come to the office ready to make a difference, not just to perform the work that is expected so it can be checked off your to-do list.  Your supervisor wants to see you get excited about a new discovery and wants to know that you really care about delivering excellence to the client as our representative.
  • Transferable skill sets – What did you learn in your previous work or volunteer experience that can be of use here?  If it has nothing to do with accounting, even better!  We are trying to be less stringent about “the accounting firm way of doing things” and more open to the ways of other industries.  We want to explore other methods, and we are looking for a diverse staff that will help us discover new possibilities.
  • Jump in the water and swim – I have yet to meet a candidate who doesn’t describe him- or herself as a “quick learner” during an interview.  However, we need true quick learners and particularly those who are willing to say, “I have never done that and I’m not quite sure how to go about it, but I will figure it out.”  This is another vital ingredient to innovation.
  • Success = Success –   Mathematically, this is an undisputable formula.  What I specifically mean is that our firm’s success equals your success.  In a digital CPA firm, this is absolutely true.  If you possess all the qualities described above and employ them continuously in the environment of a digital CPA firm, you will succeed at what you do, and you will excel in your career.  It’s that simple.

Digital CPA firms are getting more and more creative with their recruitment efforts to attract and retain the limited talent that have all the qualities they need.  I would like to say to the talent pool, “Take note of what we need and pursue these skills.  Then come knocking on our doors!”