As an accounting firm owner, you've decided that hiring directly from the Philippines is the way to go.

The next step is figuring out whether to manage the hiring process yourself, perhaps through a marketplace like Upwork, or save time by using a service like TeamUp. 

In this article, I’ll walk you through the detailed steps required to find specialized accounting and bookkeeping specialized talent on Upwork. 

Write a Detailed Job Post 

With so many job posts on Upwork, you need to make sure yours stands out by telling a compelling story if you want to attract top independent talent. That’s why we encourage you to write a job post like a sales letter for your perfect full-time hire.

  • Attract top talent. Just as a sales letter targets a particular audience with a compelling message, your job post should appeal directly to potential hires who possess the project titles, skills, and qualities you need. For example, if you're looking for a senior accountant with extensive experience in financial analysis, instead of simply listing "Senior Accountant needed," you could write, "Are you a seasoned accountant with a knack for financial analysis and a passion for helping businesses grow? Join our team and play a pivotal role in shaping the financial future of our clients."
  • Differentiate your firm. In a sea of job postings, a generic job description won’t stand out. A job post written with the precision and appeal of a sales letter can highlight what sets your accounting firm apart from others. Not to mention, top candidates are more likely to apply to a job that appears well thought out and professionally presented.
  • Establish clear expectations. Clarity is key in a job post. By thoroughly detailing the responsibilities, required skills, and expectations, you minimize the chances of attracting underqualified candidates.
  • Motivate and engage top candidates. By using persuasive language and highlighting the rewarding aspects of the job, you can create a sense of urgency and enthusiasm.

Invite candidates on Upwork 

However, when using marketplaces, like Upwork, you will still be commodified to whatever your singular job post is. That’s why spotting and inviting the right candidates on Upwork is a crucial step in ensuring you find the best fit for your accounting firm. 

First, use Upwork's advanced search filters to narrow down candidates. For example, if you need someone with expertise in financial analysis and proficiency in QuickBooks, use these terms in your search. Pay attention to the candidates' profiles, particularly their job success scores, feedback from previous clients, and the quality of their portfolios. These elements provide valuable insights into their reliability and the standard of their work.

Then, craft personalized invitations that highlight why you are interested in their profile and how their skills and experience align with your job recommendations. 

Assess proposals 

If you done this right, you’ll receive hundreds of applications on Upwork. Here are some tips for efficiently screening all of those applications.  

  • Check for personalization. Generic responses are a red flag that the candidates is either spray and praying their resume everywhere or may not have fully understood your requirements.
  • Look for relevant experience. Scan for relevant past work experience and skills mentioned in the proposal. 
  • Review client feedback. High ratings, a 90% or higher job success score and lots of positive reviews from previous clients can be a strong indicator of reliability and quality.
  • Ask for specific examples. Proposals that include specific examples of past work or links to portfolios can provide immediate insight into a candidate’s core competencies. This helps you gauge their quality without needing to dig deeper.
  • Assess communication skills. Pay attention to the clarity and professionalism of the proposal. Good communication skills are essential for remote work, and a well-written proposal often reflects this.
  • Note their availability and rates. Ensure their availability aligns with your timeline and their rate fits within your budget.
  • Identify enthusiasm and attitude. You can always teach someone a new skill, but it is much harder to teach someone to care or how to have a good attitude. Proposals that show enthusiasm for your project and suggest initial ideas or solutions indicate a proactive and engaged candidate. 

Conduct interviews

Hopping on a call is your chance to get to know your top candidates a bit better. Whether it’s assessing their technical skills and expertise, understanding their approach to problem-solving, or gauging their enthusiasm for the role, having clear objectives will guide your questions and keep the interview focused.

Here are some tips for conducting effective interviews:

  • Turn your camera on. Whenever possible, conduct the interview via video call, whether on Upwork directly, Zoom, Google Meet, or even Microsoft Teams. This provides a more personal interaction and allows you to observe non-verbal cues, which can be important in assessing a candidate’s confidence, attitude, and professionalism. 
  • Ask open-ended questions. Encourage detailed responses by asking open-ended questions. For example, instead of asking, “Do you have experience with QuickBooks?” you might ask, “Can you describe a project where you used QuickBooks to solve a complex accounting problem?” This approach provides deeper insights into their experience and problem-solving abilities.
  • Assess technical skills. In addition to giving them a skills test or pilot project, you should also consider asking technical questions during the interview. However, you want to get them to share their process for how they came up with their response. This will give you insight into how they think and approach to real-world tasks.
  • Gauge culture fit. Determine if the candidate aligns with your firm’s values and culture. Ask about their long-term career goals, what motivates them, and how they handle challenges.
  • Clarify your expectations. Use the interview to clarify your expectations regarding role scope. Make sure the candidate understands what is required and is comfortable with the terms. Clear expectations help prevent misunderstandings later on.
  • Provide time for questions. Allow the candidate to ask questions about the role and your firm. Their questions can reveal what they value and how well they have understood the job requirements. And if they don’t have any questions or only ask about basic stuff like time-off, this can be a red flag. 

Evaluate Upwork reviews and ratings

By carefully evaluating reviews and ratings on Upwork, you can make more informed decisions and choose a candidate who is likely to meet your needs and contribute positively to your accounting firm’s projects. This thorough assessment process helps ensure that you engage with professionals who have proven their ability to deliver high-quality work. 

However, not all ratings are equal. Instead of just looking at number of reviews or overall rating, it is important to dive deeper and get a sense for what was included in the review.  For instance, pay attention to any repeated themes or phrases that are repeated more than once, whether positive or negative, as these can highlight consistent patterns in their performance.

In addition, weigh recent reviews higher than reviews that are 5 years old. This can give a more accurate picture on their current strengths and performance.  

Finally, make sure to check Upwork’s Job Success Score. This score reflects the candidate’s overall performance on the platform, taking into account factors like repeat business and long-term relationships. A high Job Success Score (typically above 90%) is a strong indicator of a candidate’s reliability and effectiveness.

Spotting potential red flags on Upwork 

When hiring on Upwork, it's important to be vigilant for potential red flags that may indicate a freelancer is not the right fit for your project. 

Here’s what to look for and how to spot these warning signs:

  • Incomplete profiles. A well-prepared candidate will have a complete and detailed profile. Be wary of profiles that lack a professional photo, detailed work history, or comprehensive skills descriptions. An incomplete profile can indicate a lack of professionalism or commitment.
  • Generic proposals. Proposals that appear to be copy-pasted or lack specific references to your job post are red flags. 
  • Low Job Success Score. While not always a deal-breaker, a consistently low Job Success Score (below 80%) can indicate recurring issues. 
  • Negative patterns in reviews. Pay close attention to negative reviews and look for patterns in the feedback. Consistent complaints about missed deadlines, poor communication, or low-quality work should be taken seriously.
  • Unclear work history. If the candidate’s work history is sparse or has large gaps without explanation, this could be a red flag. This also includes profiles that list an overwhelming number of skills without much evidence to back them up. Genuine expertise is usually accompanied by relevant work samples, certifications, or detailed project descriptions. 
  • Unrealistic rates. Be cautious of rates that seem too good to be true. Extremely low rates can indicate inexperience or a willingness to undercut the market, which often correlates with lower quality work. Conversely, very high rates without justification can also be problematic.
  • No work samples. If a candidate is hesitant or refuses to provide work samples or references, this could be a sign they are not confident in their past work. Transparency is key in establishing trust and ensuring quality.
  • Unprofessional behavior. Any signs of unprofessional behavior, such as inappropriate language, poor etiquette in messages, or taking an interview in an unprofessional setting should be taken as serious red flags.

Negotiating employment terms and payment

This step will come either right before or at the same time you draft a contract.  The goal here is to make sure you are both aligned on employment expectations, terms, and payment, including:

  • Clarify role scope and responsibilities.
  • Discuss rates and payment structure. 
  • Set clear expectations around expected output.
  • Address IP, data security, and confidentiality requirements. 
  • Establish expectations for communication and availability 
  • Put all of this in writing in a detailed contract. 

Pro Tip: I always recommend approaching these negotiations with new hires with an open and collaborative mindset. Be respectful of their expertise and experience and show a willingness to compromise, if needed. 

Creating a contract 

Once you’ve agreed on the terms, it is time to create your contract. One of the benefits of Upwork is that you can create and manage contracts that detail the scope of work, payment terms, milestones, deadlines, and any other relevant conditions right on their platform. 

To begin, navigate to the candidate’s profile or your messages and click the "Hire" button. You will be prompted to choose between an hourly or fixed-price contract. For hourly contracts, you'll set an hourly rate and weekly limit on billable hours, while for fixed-price contracts, you'll define the total project fee or set milestones with specific deliverables and payments.

Next, provide a detailed job description. Clearly outline the tasks, deliverables, deadlines, and any specific requirements. This description should be thorough enough to prevent any misunderstandings about the work to be completed. You can also specify how feedback and changes will be managed.

Finally, include any additional terms or agreements, such as confidentiality clauses or intellectual property rights. 

Once all details are in place, review the contract carefully before sending it to the candidate for acceptance. This contract will serve as a reference, helping to ensure both parties adhere to the agreed-upon terms and maintain a professional working relationship.

Understanding Upwork fees and rates

One of the downsides of hiring direct on a marketplace like Upwork instead of recruiting direct is the fees that marketplace platforms charge. 

Upwork charges fees to both candidates and clients to manage the hiring process. Candidates pay a tiered service fee based on their earnings with each client: 20% for the first $500 billed, 10% for billings between $500.01 and $10,000, and 5% for total billings exceeding $10,000. This means that the more a candidate earns from a single client, the lower the percentage of fees they pay. Additionally, candidates may incur small withdrawal fees when transferring funds from Upwork to their bank accounts or other payment methods, varying by method and location.

Clients, on the other hand, are charged a 3% payment processing fee on each payment made to freelancers. For instance, if a client pays a candidates $1,000, an additional $30 processing fee is added, making the total $1,030. Clients can also choose to feature their job postings for an extra fee to attract more attention, although this is optional.

While these fees are an added expense, they cover the platform's services, including secure payment processing, dispute resolution, and support, facilitating a safe and efficient hiring process.

Save time hiring top accounting and bookkeeping talent with Teamup 

You might be thinking, "That sounds like a lot of effort to hire a talented accountant or bookkeeper on Upwork." And you might not even find someone who fits the bill if you are just posting on one marketplace platform.  

That's why we offer a done-for-you DirectHire service at TeamUp.

Our professional recruiting team takes care of everything. We follow a meticulously detailed process to ensure we find the perfect candidate for you, without you having to lift a finger.

It all begins with a discovery call. This is our chance to understand you, your team, your firm’s culture, your client interactions, the challenges you’re addressing, and the specific roles you need to fill.

We dedicate this time to learn about you because we hire for both attitude and skills. Our team is committed to getting that balance just right.

Our pricing is straightforward: a flat $4,000 with no additional or ongoing fees.

If you're interested in a hassle-free hiring experience, schedule a free discovery call with me.

Written By
Jessica Malnik
I'm a conversion content marketer and copywriter. One thing that is unique to working with me is that we're strategists who also love to execute and write at a high level. I've also been featured in WSJ, The Next Web, Wynter, Social Media Examiner, SEMrush, HubSpot, SXSW, MSN UK, among many others.
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