Key considerations when hiring a Bookkeeper

  • 31-05-21
  • Richard Lloyd Recruitment

If you are recruiting for a bookkeeping position, then you know how hard it is to find a suitable candidate in today's market.

Although sometimes seen as a more junior position, hiring a Bookkeeper should be a considered process. In a way, you’re handing over the keys to the castle (your bank account anyway), which shouldn’t be taken lightly. Hire the wrong person, and it could cost you — literally!

Doing your due diligence upfront will ensure that you find someone who will track all expenses down to the cent, keep meticulous financial records, and may even save you money in the long run because of their skills and expertise. With a good all-around Bookkeeper, your cash flow will be in good shape and payroll will be processed on time as it should be - an expectation that cannot be overlooked.

Here’s what you need to know about bookkeeping and how to hire your next Bookkeeper:

What is bookkeeping?

A lot of people think that bookkeeping is just another word for accounting. In actual fact, it’s a subset of accounting that refers to the recording of financial activities and transactions. Common responsibilities can include: 

  • Recording all financial transactions, including payments received and payments made
  • Posting all debits and credits
  • Producing invoices
  • Balancing and maintaining accounts and ledgers

If these duties are done accurately, the Bookkeeper can then successfully process the company’s payroll. The Bookkeeper role doesn’t typically deal with taxes, auditing, and other types of more technical accounting but focuses more on managing the day-to-day transactional duties that then allow for all of the other accounting tasks and activities to be completed.

What does a bookkeeper do?

Typically, the Bookkeeper and Company Accountant titles are interchangeable. In smaller companies, a Bookkeeper is essentially doing the same as an FC, but on a smaller scale where the responsibilities depend on the size of the business. The Bookkeeper job description might be all-encompassing in a smaller business where they need to manage all aspects of the accounting function. Generally speaking, larger companies don’t have Bookkeepers.

The life of a modern-day Bookkeeper relies heavily on the use of up-to-date software to make their lives easier. Systems used are generally Xero, MYOB, Sage Attaché, Reckon, and Quickbooks (to name a few) versus large company ERPs. Some common activities a Bookkeeper would perform on a daily basis include: 

  • Entering daily transactions like sales and payments and maintaining files on record such as invoices and receipts.
  • Sending invoices to customers or reaching out to remind people of overdue invoices.
  • Reconciling bank accounts to ensure everything is fully balanced.
  • Processing cheques and sending electronic payments.
  • Tracking cash flow by generating financial reports for company managers to review.

Once the transactional side is done, a Bookkeeper will spend a lot of their time looking over data and communicating their findings with stakeholders both internally and externally.

Recruiting your next Bookkeeper

Finding your next Bookkeeper can be challenging. You need someone with an aptitude for technology, who ideally possesses the right combination of skills and experience. If your Bookkeeper is your 'Accounts Department', they will need to be able to work autonomously with little or no supervision, therefore the attention to detail needs to be 'top notch'. This is where a handover is really advisable to ensure they understand what is required in the role and when.

Ideally, you want someone with a versatile skill set who can do credit control and remain accurate while paying invoices — in other words, someone with experience across the board from AP/AR through to month-end and beyond. They would need to be comfortable performing a broad range of duties.

There may be multiple stakeholders, internal and external, that this person will need to deal with - what are their expectations from the Bookkeeper? Personability and excellent written and verbal communication skills will help with this aspect of the role.

It’s also wise to consider not only what your needs are today, but what they’ll be in two or three years down the line. Focus on finding someone who can grow with the business and be a positive addition to your company’s culture.

Once you've narrowed down the pool and as mentioned before, don't expect an Olympic-size pool, ensure you take references for each candidate on the shortlist and perform a full police check, ensuring there are no surprises down the track. But don't take too long with your decision as you may find that your preferred candidate has taken another position, leaving you back at square one.

Finally, on a more positive note, we are seeing some experienced Bookkeepers in the market who are ready to dial back the pressure and stress of their more senior position to look for a job with a better work-life balance. An absolute bonus for an organisation that sees its business growing.

If you are looking to hire a Bookkeeper for your accounting team or you’re a Bookkeeper ready for a change, then contact us at Richard Lloyd Recruitment and speak to one of our experts.