Hiring top talent for the payroll department

Hiring good payroll professionals is rarely easy, but always necessary.

Here are a few tips and a checklist to help you find your payroll department professional:

Create a thorough job description. Define the payroll skills and responsibilities needed for the position, and note how these align with the department’s short- and long-term goals. Determine the education and experience required, as well as the job’s salary.

The following checklist can be tailored to specific corporate needs and will help ensure the position’s requirements are covered. Query candidates on:

•experience using in-house software, Accpac, Great Plains, Avanti, Kronos and spreadsheet skills;

•education: post-secondary education, payroll courses taken through organizations such as Carswell and the Canadian Payroll Association;

•knowledge of outsourced payroll services and related software;

•software conversion skills;

•size of payroll;

•unionized or non-unionized payroll;

•hourly, salaried or combination;


•payroll for expatriates;

•U.S. payroll knowledge;

•knowledge and administration of employee benefits;

•workers’ compensation issues;

•issuing of T-4s and T-5s;

•analysis skills and the ability to reconcile entries to the general ledger;

•strong interpersonal skills are generally required due to the involvement with all levels and all staff members; and

•staff supervision experience.

Recruit resourcefully. Use a variety of sources, including classified advertising, job fairs and trade shows, recruiting services, personal contacts, the local chapter of the Canadian Payroll Association and of course your employees. This diversity will tap into a broader range of candidates available in the market.

Carefully evaluate resumes. Review resumes for the candidate’s education, experience and work history, and pay attention to any large employment gaps. Look for statements that show the applicant understands how professional accomplishments have affected the bottom line.

Prepare for interviews. Have a clear understanding of the hiring criteria before the meeting begins and review the candidate’s resume once more. Develop a list of questions that will help understand the person’s payroll background, technical and interpersonal skills, and how well the candidate will fit into your company’s work environment. The interview is a time to clarify and confirm statements in the candidate’s resume.

Check references thoroughly. At the end of the interview, ask for a list of contacts and talk to as many of them as possible. The information from references should validate hiring decisions.

Make a decision quickly. Once you’ve decided who to hire, promptly offer that candidate the job and set an early start date.

Murray Bandura is a Calgary-based recruiting manager for Robert Half Finance & Accounting, an international staffing firm specializing in accounting and finance services. For more information call 1-800-474-4253 or visit www.roberthalffinance.com.

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