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As a normal college student does, I chose my first job with a specific company, in a specific city. While pondering that decision, I compared the firm I chose with others in the area.
 
I distinctly remember sneaking into the University of South Florida career fair and hearing the differences between the firms. My all time favorite sales pitch was:
 
“We really have the best people” or “The best part about X firm, is the people”
 
Isn’t that great. It’s almost as if no other firm has people.
 
I mean, imagine if I came to you and said I’m going to open a competitor to Wal-Mart. Well Andrew, how are you going to be different from Wal-Mart?
 
Well you see… the best part about my store is that we’re going to have fruit. Ya…. Fruit.
 
While you may think I’m exaggerating, I’m not. Every firm has people. It is not a differentiating factor. Some are great, many (and sometimes most) aren’t. Also, the way most of these CPA firms are managed, each city has their own culture and obviously, there own people.

The KPMG office of San Diego and the Crowe Horwathe office in Chicago could both be the same fit for you. If you try to say that your firm has the best people, I’ve stopped paying attention.
 
While you say your firm has the “best people”, there are probably a few offices that you would rather be shocked with a computer charger and receive long-term disability than get a notice of transfer to that city.
 
I had a partner of a Top 10 CPA firm ask me the other day, “what can I say to sell people from other firms, on my firm?”

The answer? The truth.
 
He was one of the people that used to say, “our firm is great because of our people”. Rather than that, here are some specific and tangible examples: 
  1. You’ve got to meet Sally Ricker, a manager in our office. She actually went to your University and in a few short years of working here, she’s become one of the most sought after employees in the state.
  • Related it specifically to the candidate
  • Talked about something real, not an airy concept of “the firm with the best people ever”
  1. I know you said you grew up with a family in the healthcare industry, is that something you’re interested in? (assuming they say yes) Well let me tell you about Bill Stevens, he’s only been working here for two years and works with all of our hospitals and medical practices. Maybe we can introduce you; someone like you could bring the real knowledge of the industry to the table.
The exact examples I used above are irrelevant, but what I am trying to illustrate is the following:
  1. Something real that isn’t a false concept (actual people, real clients, real opportunities)
  2. Showing that you actually know something about the person, and based on that specific knowledge, tailor your answer of why this is a great firm (where they went to school, work or family background, and hobbies)
  3. Connecting that person with another person whom you believe would serve as a great buddy or mentor to them
The real thing I was looking for was authenticity. Someone would’ve been better off and more believable if they would’ve said, “Listen, there are some offices at this firm that don’t have the best peoples and the best cultures. There are also some that are okay. But this office really offers something different”.
 
Only say that if you’re able to back it up with some good examples and ideally if you can explain why it would specifically be good for that individual. If you're speaking to a group, refuse to answer the question:
 
“I really can’t say what the best reason is. Every single one of us had our own journey here. I picked this company because it was the only place where I felt people really and truly believed in, and appreciated me. I really felt that way. They appreciated my coursework, accomplishments outside the classroom, and the hard work I put in to get here. It just felt right.

I can’t say what it would be for each of you, because it will be different for all of you. But what I can say, is that myself, and the rest of our team are excited to talk with you and see if you feel that perfect fit with us.
”
 
We have to find something real, or you we will quickly become irrelevant.
 

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