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Hiring For A Tax Organization: A.I. Versus Human Recruiters

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As a thirty-year veteran in executive search for tax professionals, I have a special set of skills. Remember the Liam Neeson movie quote in Ransom: “What I do have are a very particular set of skills, skills I have acquired over a very long time. Skills that make me a nightmare for people like you.” However, in the case of a career in executive tax search, highly trained tax recruiters like me have skills that prevent nightmares for companies. What concerns me now are companies who are leaning on A.I. software to solve their recruiting challenges. Human recruiters will far surpass any A.I. software in identifying the very best candidates.

There is not a day that goes by without a message about A.I. in my inbox. In executive search, I do not fear A.I. but I fear the false sense of superiority in results using A.I software over human intelligence. It is known that one of A.I.’s biggest flaws has less to do with technology and more about A.I. systems to making false assumptions about certain groups of people or to misidentifying people of color in facial recognition that reflects the biases in multicultural societies. Additionally, as people age, their voices often change, and I imagine this will impact A.I. results as well. Imagine being locked out of your job or bank account because A.I. does not recognize your voice. An A.I. nightmare that is bound to happen to many folks (sheeple) running into the arms of A.I. which appears to be a solution for everything these days.

Increased reliance on A.I.-driven solutions leads to less face-to-face interactions, eroding social bonds established between a recruiter and the candidates, and their impact on the search process. The art of highly successful executive search has a lot to do with evaluating candidate soft skills:  interpersonal skills, problem solving, communication, adaptability, critical thinking,  creativity, empathy, leadership capacity, and their ability to work successfully on teams.

Allow me to demonstrate what I am talking about with real world experience:

Tax Executive Search Case One: A company has a particular tax problem that was created by a previous employee that has put the company at great financial risk. The company and executives are under the biggest audit of their company history which could cost them 500K to 1M in tax, penalties, and interest. The company has an option of using an AI Software Recruiter to find a candidate or they have the option to utilize a real human Tax Recruiter who knows the market and speaks privately with tax executives who have solved similar problems. These are private company matters that should never be input into an AI software to search for the very best executives to handle a highly confidential search for a tax executive with these skills.

( Note: Confidentiality and privacy is so important in a tax executive search because of the sensitivity involved in these searches. Communicating these sensitive matters to A.I. is not likely to happen.

Tax Executive Search Case Two: Private Equity firm identifies a weakness in several of their companies that is being reported incorrectly and the Big four firm has been charging them millions in fees over several years for work that was incorrectly completed. It was never caught until a Senior Tax Manager with eagle eyes found it. Someone in the Big Four firm tells the Partners the way the line item that has noted is incorrect and it needs to be corrected going back five years. It is a big and costly problem for the firm, but they did the right thing for their client knowing how painful the mess was for the companies and the firm.

The integrity the Partners demonstrated was amazing as they did the right thing to correct the problem. Not all firms behave this way, but this firm  handled the matter correctly. The Partners worked diligently with the company executives to bring in someone new to clean up the mess.

(Note: Management will not tell A.I. to find a tax executive who can fix this problem and keep it private. This is only accomplished with information shared privately with chosen candidates.)

Tax Executive Search Case Three: Company is searching for software and implementation provider that will get them off excel sheets and on to a full solution to integrate sales of products, inventory, financial, accounting, and tax, etc. into one seamless system. CFO was wined and dined by multiple software company sales executives. After multiple trips to sports events, fine dining, with a few trips here and there, the CFO signs a software contract that turns out to be a disaster for the company. The software simply was a bad choice for the company. The cost of the software was over 1M and after one year they must dump the software as no magic wand will correct the problems of implementation with the company’s current processes.

(Note: Never, ever, buy software when they tell you their software will integrate with your software! Unless you have an independent software implementation expert to verify this first, you will not know the problems you will encounter until you have an expert look thoroughly first. There are independent  tax software experts who will tell you if the software you are considering will integrate with your in-house processes. It is worth hiring an independent tax software implementation expert to go over and evaluate what you have and what you need. You should willingly pay an independent consultant a fee to meticulously evaluate what software you have and whether the software you are considering buying will even work. If you want a recommendation, please ask me for a referral and I will refer you to people I would trust to evaluate what you have and what you need. I will refer you to outside consultants who have cleaned up the biggest implementation disasters for the Fortune 500 to Fortune 5000. We see software implementation challenges emerging in so many companies today. You need to be aware no AI software will solve this for you either…human intelligence will help you solve your tax and implementation challenges.)

(Note: You will benefit most with a search expert who values privacy and has the knowledge and skills to dig deep technically and interpersonally to find the ideal candidates to speak with about  specific challenges.)

During 2023, I personally made hundreds of phone calls to software company executive CEOs to learn about their software for our global tax community. There are certain areas I focused on during our calls because these questions/answers affect the tax professionals and the organizations we are here to help. We focused on the following topics in our discussions:

How did these software companies treat us during our interactions with them?

How involved was their support team during these calls?

Did they take the time to help us understand their products?

How is their pricing in relation to competitors?

What kind of training and support do they offer buyers of their software?

Is it easy to find experts to implement and support their software?

What do they hear about their competitor’s software versus their own?

Do they keep their word when they tell us they will do something?

The answers to these questions tells us a lot about how these software companies will treat their customers once the contract is signed. It is important to identify how these software companies will treat people and organizations they are working with each day. It is a very telling experience to interact with these companies first.

Depending on A.I. in executive search guarantees results that will not favor your specific needs. A.I. lacks human qualities like creativity, empathy, limiting its ability to understand emotions or produce original tax strategies saving companies millions of tax dollars annually. The skills required in an executive search require the human awareness only possible in nuanced conversations often requiring a greater degree of privacy.

If you are a CFO or tax executive, you understand what I am talking about! An experienced tax recruiter has the knowledge and skills and confidentiality required to bring about optimal results for organizations wanting to attract the best in the tax profession to solve their tax challenges There is no way you should count on A.I. and an algorithm to make these important hiring choices for your organization.

SPECIAL NOTE: Although A.I. may be great for data collection activities, it lacks the soft skill attributes only humans can bring to the table in executive search.

Author: Kat Jennings is the founder and CEO of Tax Connections.

Published: February 19, 2024
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Source: Tax Connections

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