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Discussion:Hiring issues

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Eduardo (talk|edits) said:

8 June 2011
Have a dilemna that hopefully some of you wise sages can assist with. My current part-time assistant (who was with me since August and did a great job) left for family reasons (not bad reasons, but just that things at home just weren't getting done). Her responsibilities were mainly client bookkeeping, preparing financials, payroll taxes, client payroll, answering the phone, and other accounting work. Interviewed two candidates last month, both interviewed well, and chose one. Of course, after spending one day here being trained by my assistant, she decided she didn't want the job. Put another ad out on Craigslist, but got to thinking about contacting the other candidate that I didn't select the first time. It's been over a month, but I think she could do the job, and I think she's looking for part-time. Any thoughts on how to approach this? I'd like to email her to see if she's still interested, but not sure how to approach this.

Also, has anyone else had any issues with receiving resumes from people that don't seem to read the ad? I'm strictly looking for someone 20-25 hours (ideal job for stay-at-home mom or someone older looking to make some money), but I keep getting resumes from people looking for management positions (I'm the boss, and the person I hire is the other employee, and that's it) or people that have MBA's, etc., that are obviously way over-qualified.

Eduardo (talk|edits) said:

8 June 2011
Edit - forgot to mention that this is really starting to bug me. I need someone here to do this work. My current assistant is willing to work from home, but it's better if there's someone here to do the work, answer the phones, be here when I'm not, etc. The process of trying to hire is not fun.

CrowJD (talk|edits) said:

9 June 2011
Send an Email to the other candidate and remind her that she interviewed for a position with you and ask her if she is still looking for a job. Tell her the other person didn't work out and keep it vague (i.e. if she asks tell her that you can't discuss it because of privacy law or something). Maybe this will work.

Fletch (talk|edits) said:

9 June 2011
let her work from home. hire someone else, maybe virtual to answer the phone, etc. Good employees are hard to find. Work with her. Hiring's no fun....oops, you already know that.

Kevinh5 (talk|edits) said:

9 June 2011
The job market is very tight.

Choices include:

Hire someone way overqualified, let them improve your business with their insight. When they leave (which they will), you will be better for their knowledge. In the meantime, maybe they can figure out a way to attract more business, for which you can pay them more. Win-win.

Hire someone with just enough qualifications. They either stay awhile or not. They will leave you at some time, though. It may not be because of a better job offer, it may have something to do with their life (move, divorce, have a baby, take care of mom, etc.) What will you do then?

Hire someone underqualified and train them the way you want them to work. They might be loyal to you because of this, but once they are dissatisfied, they will leave.


In short, Most everyone leaves at some time. At different times in my business life I've hired from each of the categories.

Eduardo (talk|edits) said:

9 June 2011
Crow - my current assistant actually told me to blame her, that she decided to stay, then she had to leave. Your idea is good, though.

Fletch - I'm giving serious thought to just having my (now former) assistant work from home. She can do the work, and if there's a day (or days) when I'm out, I'll try to work it out where she can come in. The problem is that I like having someone here. We use the Creative Solutions Virtual Office, so most of the work can be done remotely.

Kevin - interesting the way you broke that out. The thing I fear with someone way overqualified is that they'll be here just long enough to find a job they really want, and they won't really be into their work when they're here, since they're still looking. My preference is a stay-at-home mom that wants or needs some spending money, and if they have any accounting or bookkeeping experience, that's gravy. Your points are well-taken, though.

My ultimate scneario is to have so much work that I can contact the assistant I had for three years (full-time) that left last summer (on excellent terms), and offer her a job for several thousand more than she's making now. I can't justify a full-timer now, but I would love to have her back.

Also, Fletch, you're so right. Good people are hard to find, and I've been fortunate to have two of them in the past several years.

Kevinh5 (talk|edits) said:

9 June 2011
I once hired an attorney to be my receptionist/assistant. She had worked at a major mutual fund company and was Series 6 licensed, which was VERY helpful to me. She was way overqualified for the job, but stayed 3 years. (She left to be 45 minutes closer to home since she had two grade school age children.) During that time of startup, I got more value than I could have afforded to pay. She put into place several systems and procedures that a lesser qualified person probably wouldn't have thought of. We are still using many of those systems today.

With today's job market, it isn't hard to find someone willing to work. The hard part is deciding which 6 out of the 400 resumes you want to interview.

I've had to pull my free craigslist help wanted ad after one day each time I've been looking for an employee over the last two years. I've hired tax preparers, financial planning assistants, and tax season front office people this way.

Eduardo (talk|edits) said:

9 June 2011
Interesting, and food for thought. I have an ad on Craigslist (updated it today so it's at the top of both finance/accounting and admin/office), but only have one response, from someone still in college that lives 60 miles away.

I will say that my last assistant has an MBA, but she was off work for years with her kids who are now 11 and 9. All she wanted was a part-time job (husband is a doctor), and she did a great job, very trustworthy, hardworking, and cared about her work. I'm looking for that again, but I'm afraid lightning won't strike twice.

Kevinh5 (talk|edits) said:

9 June 2011
something is wrong with your craigslist ad if you don't get a dozen responses within one hour of posting. Of course, you could live in a one-horse town, and perhaps the horse doesn't have email capability.

Kevinh5 (talk|edits) said:

9 June 2011
Just checked your profile. Something is wrong with your ad, there are many many horses in your town. Most with email capability.

Kevinh5 (talk|edits) said:

9 June 2011
why don't you post your ad here so we can all rip it apart give you constructive criticism.

Eduardo (talk|edits) said:

9 June 2011
Yep, we are in a major metro area where, to be fair, the job market may be better than most (lots of gov't jobs, financial services, education). This is the same ad that was used last year and it worked great.

I'm getting plenty of responses, but none that I feel are serious, but, as Kevin has pointed out, I may be wrong for not following up with those.

I do have an interview with an accounting student (older) that used to own a business, and he may work out, as he wants part-time, and the fact that he was a business owner is intriguing. I don't expect him here much past this time next year if he's hired, but if he can last through tax season, I should be OK.

Eduardo (talk|edits) said:

9 June 2011
Here's the ad (rip away):

(Redacted) area CPA firm is seeking a part-time bookkeeper/office assistant for our practice (15-20 hours/week). Duties include client bookkeeping, monthly accounting and financial statement preparation, bank reconciliations, payroll tax return preparation including W-2's, sales tax return preparation, client payroll, general office duties.

Experience with QuickBooks, Excel, Word preferred. Experience with Creative Solutions software is helpful.

There is substantial client contact with this position.

Pay - $13/hour. Firm offers a pension plan. Please note that my ideal candidate is still someone that wants a part-time job to get some spending money (in this market, a stay-at-home mom).

Eduardo (talk|edits) said:

9 June 2011
edit - The two paragraphs after the bolded paragraph are part of the ad as well.

Kevinh5 (talk|edits) said:

9 June 2011
after 'stay at home mom', I would add 'college student, or retiree'

Instead of 'in this market' I would say 'Ideal for'

reading (Ideal for stay-at-home mom, college student, or retiree.)

Kevinh5 (talk|edits) said:

9 June 2011
That 'diagnoses' them in. "Hey, that's me!" and makes the ad more about what you can do for them than what they can do for you.

Sell it.

Eduardo (talk|edits) said:

9 June 2011
That part about the ideal canditate isn't in the ad. That's my fault, meant to use another paragraph.

Eduardo (talk|edits) said:

9 June 2011
Do you think I should put that in? Now that you mention it....

Kevinh5 (talk|edits) said:

9 June 2011
It's always in any part-time ad I place. Pulls them in by the dozens!

Then you also can tell that those looking for a full-time job haven't even read your ad completely. They don't qualify because they aren't detail people.

Eduardo (talk|edits) said:

9 June 2011
I've already figured that out. I get resumes saying that they're looking for a full-time job, but the ad says in at least two places "part-time". If you can't figure that out, then I don't want to talk to you.

Just got two responses in the last half-hour, but neither are a fit, and one is looking for full time.

Thanks for your input, Kevin. Much appreciated, and will update the ad shortly. Will let you know how it goes.

Kevinh5 (talk|edits) said:

9 June 2011
You should seriously consider coming to NAEA's Annual Conference this August in Las Vegas. Several of us who have had experience growing multiple practices are presenting our practice management knowledge for your benefit. Yes this is a plug. No it isn't spam. I get paid the same whether there are 50 people or 500 in the audience.

http://www.naea.org/MemberPortal/Education/National+Conference/

CrowJD (talk|edits) said:

9 June 2011
Eduardo, no matter who you hire, you might want to slow the training down a little bit.

The first hire might have been overwhelmed by the pace of instruction.

I couldn't learn all that so quick myself. Of course, I'm slow but I'm thorough. But mind's not a steel trap like it used to be.

NewYorkEA (talk|edits) said:

June 9, 2011
The economy is bad right now and people are having trouble finding jobs. That's why you're getting responses from overqualified people. Give them a shot, they might be really smart, hard-working people.

DJCCPA (talk|edits) said:

10 June 2011
As someone laid off in August 2008 from upper management, I couldn't find companies hiring at that level and working full time as a mother (second income) demands that you make a certain salary to cover day care, commuting costs, increased tax brackets, etc. I would have loved to have the opportunity to work part time in a position like this and would have been happy to bring all of my experience to the table. Give the over-qualified folks a shot!

Djs53 (talk|edits) said:

21 June 2011
I do not believe the employer should automatically disqualify a potential employee just because this person may be overqualified. You should interview this person. As an employer, you can get a feeling for the personality of this person and whether this person would be a good fit for your firm. You can also feel out the person for his or her career goals and future ambitions. You may find that this person is not a job hopper and will be content to work under your conditions and prove to be a valuable employee.

CrowJD (talk|edits) said:

22 June 2011
I can tell you one thing, an older worker will certainly answer the phone better, on average.

I get one of these young people on the phone today and before I get three words out it's: hold that thought, I'll text you about it, ok? Later.

And then they hang up on me. Then if they do bother to text me it's missing half the letters.

One young man said I was such a valuable customer he was taking the time to text me from the restroom. I didn't know how to take that.

Besides that, I want someone who has listened to some of the same music I have around me.

I mean some of these young people today have never bought a record album. Yes, the young need a chance, but let's not forget our older brothers and sisters.

Lively (talk|edits) said:

22 June 2011
I see lawsuit issues with an ad that says "stay-at-home mom".

I just had a client sued by the EEOC last month on a gender issue (my client needed "furniture delivery man - heavy lifting involved") and my client had to cough up $15,000.

CrowJD (talk|edits) said:

22 June 2011
We have two twin sisters that are our church secretaries. They weigh-in together now at over 800 (the big one comes in at 425, and the little one lags at 375). When we hired them, they were both in the low 300s. I've never tested them, but I would bet either one of them could lift up a table filled with food and eat off it.

They can't take heat though so I don't know if they could cut the mustard at a moving company. We keep them well chilled (air at 72 degree in the office in the Summer) at the church for our own protection. We have an EMT member at the church who already warned us he couldn't haul them in to the hospital if they fell out on the job.

Djs53 (talk|edits) said:

28 June 2011
I was a young probably overqualified person who was interviewed for a job with a self employed accountant who previously had a couple of part time middle age women working for him. The accountant expressed his concern that I could be a person that would work for him for enough time to get experience and then start my own practice and take clients with me. He also expressed his concern that coming from a small town that my hometown clients may not want me to work on their accounts. I was hired and worked for him for 23 years until he was ready to cut back toward retirement. Some of the younger workers have family issues that interfere with devotion to their jobs. I would prefer an older worker whose children are grown.

Fsteincpa (talk|edits) said:

28 June 2011
I would also add in that masseuse experience desired. At the end of the day, you have a lot of stress and anxiety that needs releasing. As long as you say in the ad that there are massage duties required, it is ok.

Eduardo (talk|edits) said:

6 July 2011
Just to update everyone and also get some more sage advice: I hired the spouse of the controller of a former client of mine (the company got sold, which is why they're a former client). He told me she would be interested, as she's an inactive CPA and wasn't working as she stayed home to raise the kids. Age is mid 50's. Interviewed her and we had a nice chat for over an hour. She can work the hours necessary (both kids are in high school). Also interviewed another woman from Craigslist who interviewed well and was a bit younger and lived further away who also was impressive, but the one hired lives much closer.

She started this week, and I'm already having second thoughts (which I know isn't fair). She's nice enough, but rather meek. Given her some tasks, and I have to watch her as she does them so she does them correctly.

Has anyone else hired someone that, in the first couple of weeks, you wondered why the hell you hired them, but then as they got the hang of it, it all worked out? As stated, she has a rather meek personality (which didn't come out in the interview), but that could also be due to her just starting out. I guess I expected a quicker learner seeing that she's a CPA, but I have to watch over her to make sure she clicks on the correct tab on the computer, etc. My fear is that next month, I'll be having to keep watching over her, which I don't want to do. I want her to be able to take charge and just do things (or ask me what she wants me to have her do) and just work on it (much like my last two assistants, who just did what needed to be done), and based on her first two days, I just don't see it happening.

I know this isn't fair (and I also know I never should have considered hiring the spouse of someone that I know), but it's been eating at me this week so far. Wife and I are going on a little 3-day vacation next week (planned back in January), and I'm leery about leaving her here.

CrowJD (talk|edits) said:

6 July 2011
Eduardo, she can't mess it up too much in 3 days.

Go and enjoy your vacation.

Hopefully this lady will grow into the job because if she doesn't you will be in a pickle.

Eduardo (talk|edits) said:

6 July 2011
Crow,

I know you're right. I'm not being fair at all (I have her doing things she hasn't done in a long time), and I do remember when I started my first job over 20 years ago and how little I knew. It's more of a general feeling than anything else, and her personality may be a reflection of just feeling her way through the job.

The work isn't hard (bookkeeper for small business clients, including doing some payroll work), and she is a CPA, so I need to give her time.

You're also right, if she doesn't pick it up, then I'm in a world of hurt. In my mind, I'm giving her a couple of months. If she doesn't pick it up by then, she never will, and I'll have to make a move.

Thanks for your wisdom.

CathysTaxes (talk|edits) said:

6 July 2011
Eduardo, why not close your office for 3 days? It is the slow season and you would have had to close it if you didn't have an employee. This way you can enjoy your much deserved break.

Eduardo (talk|edits) said:

6 July 2011
Cathy,

She's working part-time (20 hours/week), and there are things to do. She can also take calls while she's here (although it's been quiet this week). A small part is also a little test of how things go when I'm not here. If I closed the office, I would have to forward the phone to my cell. Last Xmas, we were out for a week (and had no communications at all), and my (now former) assistant held the fort down admirably. I want the same thing for this assistant (although as stated before, this isn't fair at all after less than one week).

Let's just say I'm a bit paranoid (as if you couldn't figure that out).

Fletch (talk|edits) said:

7 July 2011
Has anyone else hired someone that, in the first couple of weeks, you wondered why the hell you hired them, but then as they got the hang of it, it all worked out?

Yes. Weeks? How about Months! I did that with every single person I hired for 20 years. Then I realized -- slow learner, here -- I wanted to clone me on the cheap. And yes, you are being unfair. patience, buddy.

Szptax (talk|edits) said:

7 July 2011
Make sure you aren't assuming that she knows things she doesn't. QuickBooks, Computer programs, research etc has changed a lot since she last worked. She is probably overwhelmed and just as concerned about working out in the job as you are.

Eduardo (talk|edits) said:

7 July 2011
Fletch, good point about cloning me on the cheap. That's exactly what I'm trying to do. And yes, you are correct, I'm not being fair at all. As stated, I have her doing things she hasn't done in a long while, if at all (nothing difficult, but maybe different). Once she gets into the main part of the job, she should be OK. One thing that troubles me is her rather meek and quiet personality, but again that could be just a case of being new on the job.

Szp, she says she knows QB, so we'll find out. My former assistant is coming in next week to show her some things, so I'll get her opinion as well.

Death&Taxes (talk|edits) said:

7 July 2011
From the 1994 film, Nobody's Fool, to me Paul Newman's best role (he is Sully)

"Peter: It's not gonna be easy being you, is it?

Sully: Don't expect much from yourself in the beginning. I couldn't do everything at first, either"

For so many of us with our own business, looking for our double is our greatest handicap. I remember being hired in 1981 by a tax lawyer because in our interview (with his father present) I was finishing his sentences. Oddly we had the same first name, and he used his middle name which sounded exactly like my last name. I will never know if he had second thoughts, but in my mind, it didn't take long to figure out we were totally different.

CrowJD (talk|edits) said:

7 July 2011
We've covered the material plane, what about the spiritual angle?

This new employee lady could feel "stifled" and "beat down" by some of the old spirits in the air around the office. I learned about this by watching that show with Jeff the realtor on TV ("Flipping Out", Bravo).

If it's an older building, hundreds of old spirits, bad vibes and spooks could build up over the decades. A bad experience can cause something called a "fright" which is also a spirit that can hang in the air. (According to shows I've seen on TV).

See if you can get a priest to come in and bless the place and get rid of any old spirits. You can usually get them to come over for 50-100 bucks, cash. On the phone, refer to it as a gift to the church, but emphasize that you'll pay cash if the priest will come right over.

If you're not religious, you can hire a guru to do the clearing ceremony. There seems to be a network of these people in every city now. Check the alternative websites and newspapers in your area.

I wouldn't knock this stuff before you try it. Some of the big movers and shakers seem to believe in it and they do quite well.

Szptax (talk|edits) said:

7 July 2011
If you look for your double - you will be disappointed. They will not compliment your strengths & weaknesses.

Eduardo (talk|edits) said:

7 July 2011
Yep, that's right. I'm not necessarily looking to clone myself, I just want to be able to leave the office and not worry. I'm spoiled in that my last two assistants pretty much ran themselves, in that when work came in, they did it, and I reviewed, and all was good. I just have a nagging feeling that this one won't get it, and if it goes bad, then it's totally my fault for letting her husband talk me into interviewing her. She wants part-time and lives close by, and is a bit older, which is all good, and she has a good phone voice, but again, just a funny feeling that I have.

But, as stated, this was only her third day, and she's learning more stuff. I just wish she was a bit more assertive (not that I want someone that will be in my face or anything, but she's something of a wallflower).

I hope to be back here next month telling you how good she's working out, and then being berated by everyone telling me I'm an idiot, dumbo, etc.

BTax2010 (talk|edits) said:

8 July 2011
You should probably sit down with her and kind of do a mini "performance review" just before you leave the office. Nothing formal, but just kind of highlight your concerns....you can probably bundle it in with the conversation you are going to have with her about what to do while you are out which she is probably expecting to have....I would highlight my concerns in a really informal manner...maybe start off asking her how comfortable she is feeling in the job so far....you may be surprised, she may bring up many of the things you are concerned about and already be working out how she can improve....in either case I think the most important thing is that you make here feel comfortable in the job, because if she gets a hint that her job may be on the line as a result of her response or what she has been doing thus far you are probably not going to get any straight answers to questions about what her comfort level is....

Eduardo (talk|edits) said:

2 August 2011
One month update: still don't think this will work out. She takes way too long to work on projects - gave her a monthly bookkeeping project to work on that's budgeted for 2 hours of her time, and it took her 6 1/2 hours. She had trouble with the bank rec in QB, and had to show her that she didn't show the correct account being reconciled (she wanted to reconcile the checking account, but QB was showing the Cash on Hand account, and she couldn't figure out what was wrong). This isn't the first time I've had to show her this. Mind you, this woman is a CPA who has worked for big firms (although big firms and small firms are apples and oranges, I realize).

Also, her personality is a bit weird. She has a nervous laugh that drives me nuts, and I think she lacks self-confidence. She wants to do a good job, but she doesn't have enough confidence to take charge of things. My last two could do that. This one won't. Also, a close client called her back to get some info (I was out of the office), and said something like "Is Goofball there?", to which she replied, "Mr. Smith, here's the info you need....", not even acknowledging what he said. Client called me after she left to tell me this. He thinks she's too formal, I said she's afraid of messing up.

I'm going to have a talk with her tomorrow about how we need to keep the time within budget. I can't have her spending over 6 hours on a client that should take only 2 hours, if less. We're billing this client $250/month, and her rate is $45/hour, she's already at $300, and that's without my review time. I really hope that she realizes she's over her head, and decides to leave. I don't want to have to lower the boom on her, seeing that I know her husband (and yes, I do know better than to hire the spouse of someone that I know, it's just that on the surface, she was just what I was looking for).

Heritage120 (talk|edits) said:

11 August 2011
When I have a newbie, I know they will need a few months to become familiar with the clients, software, procedures in our office. If she can't come in on budgeted time then you either need to be patient while training or put her on a salary. I have a dedicated server so employees can work from home if they need more time. Is she progressing? If after 4 mos it is still over budget substantially then maybe it is not a good fit. Just know that they get better with experience. I had a guy last year that plain sucked. I left the door open but cut him loose. He came back this year is my best tax accountant with bus returns which I really needed. He greatly improved. I feel for you as employees that r good r hard to find.

CrowJD (talk|edits) said:

11 August 2011
Eduardo: get her to one of these anti-aging doctors, and have her put on human growth hormone. That will take 20 years off right there. Also, crumble up 3-4 No-Doz tablets in the coffee pot every day when she's not looking.

Eduardo (talk|edits) said:

11 August 2011
Dr. Crow, the medicine man. LOL.

Actually, to update, she gave me her notice a couple of days ago, which is a big relief. She said her teenage son isn't doing the things he needs to be doing when he's home alone, but I really think she realizes she doesn't know what she's doing. I sat down with her and gave her a time budget on each client, which she accepted, but I really think she knows she's not getting the job done. I gave her a simple project the other day, and she's still farting around with it. She's going to work through next week, then done. Needless to say, I'm relieved. I'd like her gone after tomorrow, but no point in spilling any unnecessary blood.

Have an interview with a younger woman that I interviewed in the last go-around, and I think she would work out fine. Has bookkeeping experience, knows payroll and QB, so I think this one will work out (fingers crossed).

Fletch (talk|edits) said:

11 August 2011
What additional interview or testing issues have you learned from your mistaken judgement on the one leaving to reduce risk of repeating this ?

Eduardo (talk|edits) said:

11 August 2011
Honestly, don't hire spouses or others referred by friends or people you know. I look at background, and then check references. With this one, since she's a CPA, I assumed that she could do the job, which was obviously an erroenous assumption. I didn't look at her resume nor checked any references. The prior two came highly recommended from the references, and those worked out great.

Fletch (talk|edits) said:

11 August 2011
-Don't sell short the distraction she mentioned of home issues that affect work. Only marriage problems can compete with your kids messing up. Sleepwalking thru work is a common result.

Eduardo (talk|edits) said:

12 August 2011
Honestly, I think she used her son as a cover as to why she's leaving. I think she realizes she's not up to the task, and decided to get out before we had to have a long chat.

That said, I'm glad she's leaving, and I feel the new one will work out well.

Eduardo (talk|edits) said:

5 September 2011
Another update: new one started Tues, Aug 23. Picked up everything I was telling her, did a real nice job, was trustworthy, etc. Last Wednesday, Aug 31, got an email from her that she was up all night sick and would stay home to rest. Immediately suspicious (although I'm paranoid by nature when it comes to business), but emailed her back to get some rest and hoped to see her tomorrow (Thursday). Supposed to be in at 10:00, doesn't show. At 10:30, get an email from her that her last employer offered her a job for $4/hour more than I was paying her, with an additional 10 hours/week, plus 2 weeks paid vacation. Tells me she's sorry, but that she has a weak heart and that she took that job. Of course, I'm PO'd, but what can you do.

Called the one that left back in the spring that was really good about coming back three days/week up to the end of the year, then five days for tax season, but after considering it, she decided against it (although no hard feelings, and if she called me now to say she could do it, I'd tell her to be in tomorrow. She's been a big help to me).

Put another ad on Craigslist on Saturday morning, have four interviews this week (two Tuesday, two Wednesday). Resumes look good, so we'll see.

Employees are the hardest part of a business. I'm a solo CPA, and just need someone to work 20-25 hours/week to do bookkeeping, payroll taxes, sales tax, 1099's, answer the phone. Not a real lively environment with lots of chatter, etc., but I'm a pretty easy guy to work for (my last two good ones said I was great to work for), and as long as the work gets done within the time budget, and they are good with the clients, that's all I ask.

CrowJD (talk|edits) said:

5 September 2011
Woe is me. What next?

Eduardo, at first I thought all these ladies were crazy but I'm beginning to worry about you.

When was the last time you've taken some time off just by yourself?

You might need to check yourself into the nuthouse for a week just to rest and get away from the phone.

The best thing you can do is go to a psychologist or psychiatrist or another kind of headshrinker and observe how they carry on and realize you don't want to end up like them!

Most of these doctors are plumb crazy and we can learn something from them along the lines of what not to do.

Bottom Line (talk|edits) said:

6 September 2011
Eduardo - you have my sympathies. I tried for years to hire an assistant and kept giving up. Finally found one that has actually stuck around for a year. She's not as quick on the QuickBooks as I would like but I need to spend more time in the office training her. The upside is that she can do the computer repairs and marketing that I can't. Plus at least she shows up!

PollyAdler (talk|edits) said:

6 September 2011
Eduardo, it won't be long before you can replace these ungrateful employees with a robot.

I'm already working on a line of clothing for robots. I've patented a special silk that keeps down rust. Here is the first robot fashion model:

Meet HRP-4C

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xvtskTIQYZc


Scientists have already programmed a robot to deal cards and it doesn't cheat (unless it's programmed to cheat).

They are already replacing some toll booth workers and parking attendants with robots. If you see one smiling and waving all the time, it's probably a robot. If they give you the wrong change don't argue with them because they can deliver 50,000 volts to an unruly customer.

Eduardo (talk|edits) said:

6 September 2011
A robot is a hell of an idea. No vacations, no out sick, and if a client doesn't pay, then the robot can go to their house and smash things up. LOL.

Question for the others here - do any of you offer paid vacation to part-time employees? I gave my full-timers 2 weeks paid vacation (with the stipulation that they not use it Jan-April), but for the part-timers, I don't offer paid vacation. They can certainly take a vacation with their family, but it's unpaid. I do pay them for holidays. I'm wondering if I find someone good, it may be a good feature to offer them paid time off. Just a thought.

Eduardo (talk|edits) said:

6 September 2011
Hey, BL. You have my sympathies as well. I got lucky with one that stayes three years, and if I had enough work and could pay her a few thousand more than what she's making now, I'll call her yesterday. Totally trustworthy, good worker, good attitude, etc., and left on excellent terms (I still prepare her tax returns). It's just a pain interviewing, trying to determine who's a good fit, etc.

Flybynight (talk|edits) said:

7 September 2011
I think the difference is that they either see it as a job or as a career. If it's just a job, they'll just dial it in and they'll never work as hard as the career-oriented person that you want. If the person is career oriented, they'll stay for a year or two and then move on to greener pastures, as they'll be constantly progressing.

A good friend of mine is a dentist who runs his own practice and he has trouble finding a good front desk/receptionist/basic data entry person. He lives in a relatively low COL area and the salary comes out to about $24k a year for a 40/hr week (w/2 weeks vacation and paid holidays). You can live on that salary where he is, but all of the good receptionists go to dental hygienist school and come back to earn 2x as much and the bad ones are just bad. He doesn't want to raise the salary because he thinks it's a fair rate for this type of work and I don't disagree with him, as it's far easier and more comfortable than a minimum wage job, but pays significantly better. Hopefully both of you will get lucky and find someone good, but in his case, the pool of responsible and competent people willing to work full-time for $24k a year isn't huge.

Eduardo (talk|edits) said:

7 September 2011
It is very tough finding someone. Had an interview scheduled for 9:30 this morning (EST), and the person never showed up. Too bad, as she had a good resume and experience that I needed. Had one yesterday that would be a good fit, but not sure about her personality (seems too quiet, but that could be due to nerves).

Interesting comment about job vs career. In my situation, a good fit is someone who only needs part-time and has bookkeeping experience. Not to be sexist, but a stay-at-home mom that has older kids is ideal. I can't pay them a ton (probably $13/hour to start), but we do have a SIMPLE plan, plus I try to make it an easy place to work, especially if you do a good job. I've had people tell me to hire college kids so they can learn, but then the turnover is constant, and every year (if not more) I'm having to train someone new. I don't want that. I also don't want someone that is just looking for anything, and that will leave once a good full-time job comes along (i.e. someone out of college).

Fletch (talk|edits) said:

7 September 2011
a client told me he was trying to sell his house, "It's a $150,000 house, but everyone who walks in says the kitchen is too small and that the backyard is too small. Thta's why I cannot sell it."

My reply, "Is the kitchen/yard too small for a $110,00 house?"

See the analogy to the "correct" wage for a job you cannot fill?

Flybynight (talk|edits) said:

7 September 2011
I agree that that would be an ideal scenario, but that's likely a really small pool. From my experience, many stay-at-home moms leave the workforce precisely because they hated it. The vast majority of stay-at-home moms will also likely be so far removed from the workforce that it will take a very significant investment on your part to bring them up to speed.

We always have at least two college interns here and they usually start the summer after their freshman year (so we can at least have 1 year of grades) and they'll typically work for 3 years. We've ended up hiring about a quarter of them for full-time positions. I think 3 years is really all you can reasonably expect of an employee in this position and it's relatively easy to find a personable "go-getter" for some part-time work while they are in school. Since you are at a major metro area, this is a good option and I've found that university grades are usually a pretty good predictor of diligence for at least basic work. Ideally, you would get a CPA candidate who can use the work experience to become a CPA and has an eye on having you be a future reference, so will be very conscientious with their work.

My father-in-law is a shareholder in an engineering firm and does the same thing. He has numerous engineers come and work for him for a few years, until they can become licensed as Professional Engineers (PE is like the CPA for engineers). Then they usually leave and become his peers and several have referred work to him over the years. I agree with those folks that say "hire the college kids."

Eduardo (talk|edits) said:

7 September 2011
Good points. Gracias.

For those that check references, what questions do you ask? The person I'm checking on is coming from a small firm to my even smaller firm, which I haven't had before, so was wondering what to ask? Also, do any of you check references via email? I prefer to do it via phone, but getting past gatekeepers sometimes can be an issue. I'm thinking possibly that email could work. The interviewee provided names, addresses, phone #, and email addresses for four people she's worked for.

Bottom Line (talk|edits) said:

8 September 2011
I'd prefer phone. That way you can get voice inflections. "Is this person eligible for rehire?" Um-yeees or YES! Both written answers are yes but the first verbal answer is very hesitant and the second one is very positive. That said, my background in "corporate America" says not to give references.

CrowJD (talk|edits) said:

8 September 2011
Plant a stooge (actor) in the waiting room with the interviewee. Have the stooge begin a pre-interview before the job applicant meets with you, for example:

Stooge: I didn't have money for parking this week so I took a few dollars from the church plate <collection basket>.

Interviewee: HAHAHAHA! That's worth going to church for!

Stooge: (Opens purse). Look at these napkins I stole from McDonalds! (5 inch wad of napkins).

Interviewee: HAHAHAHA! Did you get some cream too? What about ketchup? Straws?

Stooge: Sure! Hey, have you ever taken a nap at a mattress store? By law they can't throw you out if you take a nap.

Interviewee: <Peels of laughter.> Oh you saved my life! I get sleepy during lunch. Is there a mattress store around here anywhere?

Stooge: <Pulls a half pint of peach brandy out of her pocket and takes a long sip, offers bottle to interviewee> Here, have some <wink>.

Interviewee: I thought you'd never ask! <gulp>

After the banter slows down, Eduardo calls the applicant in for a perfunctory interview. After the applicant leaves, Eduardo meets with the stooge and they compare notes and then the hiring decision is made.

It goes without saying that the applicant never knows she's been talking with an actor.

The key is to get the real truth from the job applicant (interviewee), and this can only be done by trickery by the use of the preinterview in the waiting room.

(You'll need a cover story for the stooge. For instance, the stooge is waiting to meet with Eduardo because she's a flooring saleslady and Eduardo is looking for new carpet in the office. Just make up some reasonable cover for the stooge, then have the stooge befriend the job applicant and start to chat her up.)

Use your own creativity to make up the script for the stooge to use, the point is to try to catch the applicant in an admission of dishonesty or bad habit. Good luck!

Taxaway (talk|edits) said:

8 September 2011
These applicants never showed up for the interview either.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xW6eg8jrbdg&feature=related

CrowJD (talk|edits) said:

8 September 2011
Lol. Taxaway, we've consulted over this matter to the point that I expect Eduardo to hire the best employee in his state. Having said that, I'm not responsible if anything backfires. Good luck Eduardo!

Eduardo (talk|edits) said:

8 September 2011
Gracias, Crow and all. Going to call one today to offer her the job. Hopefully she takes it and I can move on.

Thanks to everyone for letting me vent, rant, etc. in this forum.

Lisaw (talk|edits) said:

21 October 2011
I was wondering what the staus is of Eduardo and his merri-admins? I need to find some PT admin this year for tax season and have enjoyed reading this thread.

Eduardo (talk|edits) said:

22 October 2011
Good morning, Lisaw.

Well, hired my current admin just over a month ago (via Craigslist), and so far, so good. Doesn't have a great accounting background, but is a quick learner, is excellent on the phone, and has the ability to figure out when things just aren't right. Not perfect, mind you, and still makes some mistakes, but learns from them. She likes to stay busy, and is a huge help to me.

Needless to say, it was an interesting summer. If I may offer some advice:

1. Check references - my current admin received two glowing recommendations. The one I was going to hire that has small CPA firm experience received a negative review from the CPA owner she listed as a reference. Glad I checked her out, as something just didn't seem right.

2. Don't hire friends or spouses of friends/people you know. As stated ad nauseum in earlier posts, big mistake.

3. You're better off hiring someone that's smart and personable than you are someone that has accounting experience. You don't know what the person that has experience has learned and if you need to "de-learn" them.

Lisaw (talk|edits) said:

22 October 2011
Thanks for the update Eduardo. All valuable advise.

Eduardo (talk|edits) said:

18 September 2012
Well, after one year (actually, her one year anniversary is tomorrow), my assistant is leaving to take a job with her old boss at her old employer. She was afraid to tell me, said she's really sorry, liked working here, etc. Pay is higher, and she does have three kids to worry about. Told her not to worry, she has to do what's best for her, etc. Leaving on good terms, but back to square one, which sucks.

Also put out two Craigslist ads, and only received about ten reponses (used to get a ton), and only three worth a damn. Anyone else seeing the same thing when they're trying to hire someone?

Bbowers (talk|edits) said:

18 September 2012
Yes- we just hired a new bookkeeping person & it was amazing how difficult it was. Most of my business clients still struggle finding good help too. It seems the unemployed are unemployable.

I contacted our local community college & asked for referrals of prior graduates that might be looking for a change. The brought in a couple of resumes. I had the best luck on our state job web site called KansasWorks. It was free and evidently well followed. We're small, so it's hard to compete with benefits- which we have very little of- so it has to be the right person. Good luck with your search!

Eduardo (talk|edits) said:

18 September 2012
That's a good line, and true - "the unemployed are unemployable". It's amazing that I used to get a bunch of resumes, and some good ones, and now only three that are worth anything.

I'll try to see if our state has a fee job website. Might be worth a gander.

Correct on benefits. The one leaving worked 25 hours/week, and she received paid holidays and is in our SIMPLE plan, but I didn't offer vacation days as she was part-time (IMO, a mistake) nor sick time, which her new job will offer. Again, leaving on good terms, but still a PITA. My best scenario is a stay-at-home mom where the spouse makes good money and has the benefits. Had one over a year ago, and she was good, but things got out of hand at home, so she had to leave. She may come back temporaily to help out until I find someone, but she can only work three days a week.

Larousse (talk|edits) said:

19 September 2012
Eduardo, we have used Craigslist a few times and have decided to never do so again. While "Free" is a great price for the listing, we have found few, if any, of the many responses actually meet the stated qualifications. From what I'm seeing in my own extended family, there are many young college graduates looking for any job that doesn't involve food service and are bright and trainable. I wouldn't limit myself to the community colleges!

Eduardo (talk|edits) said:

19 September 2012
I've actually had some success with Craigslist. My current one that's leaving answered my Craigslist ad, as did two of her predecessors that I would love to have back (one lasted three years and the other had to leave after 9 months due to family issues). That said, also had one bad experience about five or six years ago, but thankfully she only lasted about three weeks.

It may help that we're in a major metro area in the Midwest, but who knows.

Regarding college graduates, one thing that I don't like (although it's perfectly understandable from their perspective) is that they all want full-time jobs that pay well, so they'll use me as somewhere to tide them over until a full-time gig comes along. I'm tired of training people every year, but that may be because I'm getting crochety in my old age.

Eduardo (talk|edits) said:

22 September 2012
Out of five, found one that's real promising - knows bookkeeping, great personality. My current admin gave her a thumbs-up.

Question - would it be inappropriate to call her today (Saturday) and offer her the job? My last interview was late yesterday afternoon, then had to meet the family out, and by time we got home and fed the kids and got them to bed, it was after 9PM. I'd like to call her today to offer her the job, but not sure if that's appropriate.

Xz (talk|edits) said:

22 September 2012
Eduardo:

Maybe it is good to wait till Monday not to show too much eagerness.

Bottom Line (talk|edits) said:

24 September 2012
Just brought in my second staff person. Had tried through CraigsList and only got 6 of 30+ that met the criteria. Called those 6 to set up interviews. Only one actually interviewed. One called to postpone (emergency out of town) and then never returned my call to reschedule. Other 4: first question was about health insurance; I don't offer it but do give 3 wks "personal leave" per year. The one that interviewed was spooky because he was so perfect...and then I did a background check...ouch!!

The one I did hire was through a personnel agency. Hate paying the premium for 90 days but temp to perm is ok. Only challenge is that she wants to run before she can walk which drives me a little nuts. But she's learning the clients. Every one is different.

I completely agree that many people are simply not employable.

Eduardo (talk|edits) said:

24 September 2012
Same experience here. Interviewed five out of over 20, and only one (the first one) was really good. Another one was OK, the other three no way. Thankfully, the one that was really good accepted the offer, and starts next Monday.

I honestly think next time I have to hire, I'm just going to contact the full-timer I had for a few years and see what she needs to come back. She's great, and I'd love to have her back, as would my clients (although they did like the last one). Just get sick of the revolving door.

Sillyaccountant (talk|edits) said:

5 October 2012
Long-time lurker here.

I think an employee's perspective might be helpful to you. CPA, recent college grad, few years of experience at a national firm where I'm at currently. Also been an assistant to a couple professionals in college. No, I don't know what it is to build a business with my blood, sweat, and tears, but this stuff is just ridiculous.

Quote: Employees are the hardest part of a business. I'm a solo CPA, and just need someone to work 20-25 hours/week to do bookkeeping, payroll taxes, sales tax, 1099's, answer the phone. Not a real lively environment with lots of chatter, etc., but I'm a pretty easy guy to work for (my last two good ones said I was great to work for), and as long as the work gets done within the time budget, and they are good with the clients, that's all I ask.End Quote

1 - EVERYONE thinks they are good to work for, that they are pleasant, create a great working environment, etc. It's part of most bosses' self-images - that they are a good boss. I have never had someone tell me, "I'm bad to work for." Some people have said, "I'm tough to work for but you'll learn a lot," or "this isn't the greatest task but it's here if you want it," etc. But nobody thinks they aren't good to work for.

If you were actually good to work for, you're last assistant might not have left your employ...to work for her old employer. Maybe it was something else, but think about it.

2 - I read all your posts. You are actually asking for a whole lot, even though you might not realize it. You are asking for: smart, self-motivated, take charge, good work, fast work, good with clients, no training needed, no turnover, part-time. That's a lot. I think a lot of small business owners downplay their needs because it seems so right to them, so just, that exactly what they are looking for will just walk in the door immediately.

3 - You aren't offering much. Part time only, no health insurance, no real career path, no development/advancement opportunity, probably not lots of flexibility during tax seasons, and 13 DOLLARS AN HOUR. 20 hours a week times $13 an hour = $260 a week.

Do you know how much an admin gets paid in Big 4? They start at around 40k-ish, can get close to six figures in their career, work 8 hours a day, have vacations, benefits, health insurance, etc.

I think you can either pay in dollars, health insurance, and career development, or you can pay in higher turnover, worse work, employee disengagement, etc. Good work ain't free.

You're basically offering almost nothing, and asking for everything. I mean, why would someone work for you for $13 an hour when they can work for a department store for $9 an hour and not ever have to think? What you want is rarely available for $260 a week. And that's a good thing, because if $260 a week were the going rate for what you're asking for in the USA...we'd have way bigger problems than taxes. So thank your lucky stars that you can't find your perfect employee for $260 a week.

Further, I think various politicians are doing our country a real disservice with all their rhetoric about small businesses, job creation, etc. Those things are great but the self-serving rhetoric has had serious unintended consequences. It's gotten to the point that someone who sounds generally reasonable, rational, and professional is pissed off that they offer a part-time, dead-end, no benefits, $13 an hour job and have only 6 good resumes! As if it were his divine right to hire great people at $260 a week.

Call it entitled if you want, I don't care. But you should start thinking about why you are having problems with the revolving door, and whether fixing that problem is worth what it would take.

Tax Writer (talk|edits) said:

5 October 2012
Long-time lurker here.

I wish there was a "like" button for this post.

I mean, why would someone work for you for $13 an hour when they can work for a department store for $9 an hour and not ever have to think?

Macy's starts people off at $9.08 plus commission, so the hourly rate is even higher. In N' Out starts at $10 an hour. That's fast food. Starbucks starting wage varies, but it averages between $8.00-$9.00 plus full benefits for part-time workers (dental, vision, medical) if they work 20 hours a week. Oh, they offer adoption assistance, retirement plans, and same-sex partner benefits too.

Silly makes a very good argument.

Fsteincpa (talk|edits) said:

5 October 2012
But, I am good to work for, I just don't pay well enough. lol. I actually abuse my employees and they love it.

Silly, you have made some excellent posts. It has me sitting back and remembering my days when I started out, first for a small firm with great bosses, but lousy pay. I did learn a lot and if the pay was better, I would have stayed. Next, was a larger regional firm in the Capital Region where the pay was better, but the bosses, not so much. My buddy small hands and I would have beers and describe to each other the philosophy we would have if we ever became owners of a firm one day ourselves.

I've lost track of my buddy small hands over the years, last I knew, he was with Catholic Charities or some other nonprofit and was enjoying it. Me, I did start my own practice and I like to think that I have implemented at least some of the things that Mr. Hands and I discussed back as yutes.

The main thought process was that when we had employees that we would treat them well and pay them well enough that those were never the reasons for them seeking work elsewhere. If possible.

As for part time work though Ms. Silly, there are some that seek that out. Some only wish a few hours a day or week out of the house. Or just seasonal tax time work.

While many of your statements are accurate, not all you say is correct.

Bottom Line (talk|edits) said:

7 October 2012
Silly, I'll agree that some are as you've described; however not all of us are like that. I was looking for a full-time person with good bookkeeping/QuickBooks skills, ability to manage their own work flow without direct input from me, interest in the job and a desire to learn and grow. As the employee learned more skills, pay rate would increase. I pay for training and strongly encourage my staff to learn taxes and get their RTRP. I also pay for annual renewals of licenses. While I don't provide health insurance, I do give 3 weeks personal leave, 13 paid holidays, and a retirement plan. I have a casual environment, flexible hours and don't get my nose out of joint when employees make personal phone calls. And trust me, I pay more than $13/hr.

Xz (talk|edits) said:

7 October 2012
Bottom Line: how many employees do you have? How many years are you in business? I would like to see a path for myself having you as a beacon. You can email me at xinglizh@gmail.com if you don't want to discuss it here in public. Thanks.

Silly - you look at things from a different angle when you are an employer. There are some people that just want to work part-time. That fits their life style and saves cost for the business. Small business is not a good career path when you want to climb the career ladder, but a good place to learn if you want to build your own business later. I was an all 4.0 student in accounting and missed the chance to interview with big 4 due to family issues (Big 4 would probably would not fit my life style). I started to work for a couple of small firms. That experience helps me to build my own business from scratch.

Bottom Line (talk|edits) said:

8 October 2012
Don't really know about being a beacon but I can let you know the mistakes I've made! More than happy to discuss in detail and I'll send you an email. I just hired my second person and I've been in business for about 15 years. I went through 5-6 people over the years before I found the right one. When I brought in a bad one and they left, I'd not replace them for a year or so which slowed my business growth. ("I'll just do it myself" which resulted in working 60-80 hours a week during non-tax time.)

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