How to Choose a Tax Recruitment Partner

Tax is one of the most important issues for any business. It is essential that in-house teams recruit the right tax professionals and that Professional Services firms build a strong team of advisors to provide tax services to clients. Over the last few years, we have seen an increase in demand for commercially astute specialists with excellent technical skills both in the Profession and in-house.

The tax market in Scotland is notoriously tight, with fierce competition for the best candidates, who happen to be in short supply. Due to the difficulty in recruiting directly, it is inevitable that a recruitment partner will have to be used in this niche area.

With over 300 recruitment agencies in Scotland and a further 100 more based elsewhere who recruit into Scotland, it can be difficult to choose who to work with. Here we highlight the key considerations when recruiting a tax position.

Network – a good recruitment partner will be well connected across the market – as a result of recommendations, referrals and a clear events strategy. In addition to having access to ‘active’ candidates, a good recruitment partner will also have strong relationships with those who are not looking (the passive market), and the ability to bring them to the table. These relationships tend to be built in person rather than over the phone and are more likely to be found with recruitment partners based in the local market.

Expertise – your recruitment partner needs to have a deep understanding of the various specialisms within Tax and should be able to work with you to advise you on your needs – and where specific skill sets can be found in the market. A specialist Tax recruiter will spend their day networking with Tax professionals in both industry and practice, and from these conversations will be able to provide you with market insight and intelligence.

Brand reputation – the recruitment partner will be representing you and your business in the market and you must have confidence they will do this well. Consider if the recruitment partner has a positive reputation in the market and if they have a track record of recruiting similar positions.

Once you have narrowed down the plethora of recruitment agencies you must then figure out the best approach. You have two main options:

  • Engage multiple recruitment partners
  • Engage one recruitment partner on an exclusive or retained basis

Engaging Multiple Recruitment Partners 

With this option, you are likely to receive a good mix of potential candidates but it is likely to limit the search to who is looking for a job at the time, rather than the best in the market, and you are unlikely to receive a full view of the market. You have less control over how your company is portrayed in the market, and it is a more ‘gung-ho’ approach. With the market in Scotland being so small and sensitive, it often doesn’t reflect well on a firm if multiple recruitment consultants are contacting candidates about the same role. Furthermore, it can drive up salary expectations in the market as a result of the perceived demand.

Engaging One Recruitment Partner on an Exclusive or Retained Basis

With this approach, you maintain control over how the opportunity is brought to market and work in genuine partnership with the recruiter, who will guide you through the process end-to-end.

Typically, this will involve:

  • Writing the job/person specification
  • Fully mapping the market
  • Proactively sourcing candidates through the right blend of channels (headhunting, networking, branded advertising, etc.)
  • Pre-screening candidates effectively
  • Offering expertise throughout the recruitment and interview process

Choosing the right recruitment partner for key tax roles requires taking into consideration the consultant’s network, expertise and reputation (including track record). The right approach will ensure that you choose the best partner for your business and the role, and a retained search will place the entire process in the hands of a recruitment specialist.

Eleanor Turner is Rutherford Cross’ Tax Recruitment Specialist. Rutherford Cross is a respected business partner in the tax community with a vast network across Scotland and the ability to undertake national and international searches.

If you would like to work with Rutherford Cross, you can contact Eleanor on 07799 462326 or [email protected].