Thursday, October 23, 2008

Hiring a Bookkeeper

Hiring a bookkeeper? You'd think it would be easier to find bookkeepers. Where are they, and when you do find them, how do you hire the best bookkeeper for your business?

Keeping track of your company's financial data is vital. In fact, it's so important that you can't just leave it to chance.

You need someone in charge of your books who has the training and experience to get the job done right. But finding a quality bookkeeper can be a challenge - unless you know what to look for.

How to Hire a Bookkeeper

To begin with, you need to understand that bookkeepers are not necessarily the same as accountants. While an accountant's job is to provide financial advice and recommendations, a bookkeeper's job entails things like recording income and expenses, reconciling bank statements, processing invoices, and administering payroll.

If that sounds like the kind of person you need, then it's time to start shopping around for someone to fill the position. Bookkeepers can be hired on a part-time, full-time, or even contact basis depending on the needs of the business. But no matter what kind of arrangement you decide to go with, your bookkeeper needs to meet certain basic qualifications.

Bookkeeper Training & Education

A qualified bookkeeper may or may not have a degree in accounting. Some of the best bookkeepers you'll find don't. But they should have completed some formal coursework in bookkeeping through a community college or other accredited institution. For information about the kind of coursework you should be looking for, you might consider contacting the American Institute of Professional Bookkeepers.

Bookkeeper Experience

Although education and training are important, there is no substitute for experience. Hiring a bookkeeper with only a couple of courses under their belt and no actual bookkeeping experience is a recipe for disaster.

It's not uncommon for bookkeepers to operate on a contractual basis, so potential candidates should be able to provide you with a list of satisfied clients you can contact for a reference. You should also plan to check out references of previous employers if the individual has staff experience on either a full- or part-time basis.

Detail-oriented Personality

Bookkeepers live and die in the details. Therefore, it is absolutely critical for them to have detail-oriented personalities. If the person seems frazzled or disorganized at the interview, that's a good sign that they may not be the right person for the job. On the other hand, if the candidate shows up with multiple copies of a well-organized resume and a color-coded Day Planner, you may be on the right track.

Technological Awareness

The art of bookkeeping has come a long way in recent years. Nowadays, most bookkeeping is done in a computerized fashion. Potential candidates should be familiar with - if not proficient in - the record keeping software your business uses on a daily basis.

Costs for Bookkeepers

How much should you pay a bookkeeper? That depends largely on how much you want them to do. If you're planning to outsource your bookkeeping needs, expect to pay between $20 - $50 per hour depending on the complexity and volume of work your business requires.

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