How to hire bookkeepers
Looking to reduce the administrative overhead of tracking cash flow within your business? A freelance bookkeeper can help you get organized and balance the books.
So how do you find a freelance bookkeeper? What follows are some tips on finding top bookkeepers on Upwork.
How to shortlist bookkeeping professionals
As you’re browsing available bookkeeping consultants, it can be helpful to develop a shortlist of the freelancers you may want to interview. You can screen profiles on criteria such as:
- Industry fit.You want a bookkeeper who understands the tax nuances of bookkeeping for your industry.
- Software. Do you use FreshBooks, Billy, QuickBooks, or other accounting software? You want a bookkeeper who can slide right into your existing workflow.
- Feedback. Check reviews from past clients for glowing testimonials or red flags that can tell you what it’s like to work with a particular bookkeeper.
How to write an effective bookkeeping job post
Questions to ask before writing a bookkeeper project description
Before posting a job, consider these questions:
- What’s my budget?
- What kind of financial or bookkeeping functions do I need help with?
- Do I need an expert who already has experience working with other clients in my industry?
- Do I need the bookkeeper to have any formal training in finance? Those with degrees within the field may have a better overall knowledge of advanced tasks like loan packaging or preparing business plans.
- Do I prefer any professional certifications? While this isn’t necessary, belonging to a professional organization, such as the National Association of Certified Public Bookkeepers, can reflect a deeper commitment to the field.
- Does my business use bookkeeping software they need to be familiar with? Since there are many different types of accounting and bookkeeping software on the market (QuickBooks and Xero are two popular options), it may make sense to include this as a requirement in your posting.
Sample bookkeeper project description
Keep in mind that many people use the term “job description,” but a full job description is only needed for employees. When engaging a freelancer as an independent contractor, you typically just need a statement of work, job post, or any other document that describes the work to be done.
Your job post needs to clearly answer three questions:
- What do you need done?
- When do you need it?
- What are the start and end dates for your project?
Answering these questions with the pertinent details can not only help you attract more qualified talent, since potential partners will be able to assess whether they’re a good match. You’ll also receive more accurate proposals.
Here’s how it may look:
Title: Seeking Bookkeeping for Rail Equipment Broker
We are currently seeking a freelance bookkeeper with expertise in payroll, accounts receivable, expense reports, and filing monthly taxes. The ideal professional will be very well organized.
- General ledger
- Send invoices and keep track of monthly accounts receivable
- Write checks to vendors and other accounts payable
- Track and approving expense reports
- Excel magician preferred!
- Expertise with 1099 payroll, ADP, and accounts receivable
- An expert with QuickBooks
- Please include “Star Wars” in your proposal title
- Certification from bookkeeping association a plus
- Experience with shipping and transportation industry a plus
In your proposal, include a short description of your experience as a bookkeeper and why we should consider you. Also, tell us about a previous project and how your skills made an impact on that business. Please submit your proposal by [month], [date], [year].
Did you notice the unusual item under requirements? Yes, asking to include “Star Wars” in the proposal. Adding things like this is optional, but when you need someone detailed, it’s a good way to see if they’re observant and follow instructions well. It’s also a quick way to filter through a pile of proposals.
Ready to get your books in order? Log in and post your bookkeeping job on Upwork today.
What does a bookkeeper do?
A bookkeeper handles more clerical work than an accountant, although their services do overlap. Bookkeepers will record and deliver the numbers—all of your day-to-day transactions and expenses. They generate the data that gets handed over to an accountant for more high-level analysis. They’ll also help you with:
- Organizing receipts
- Recording expenses
- Paying for everyday expenditures
- Recording forms of income
- Verifying deposits and other transactions
- Balancing bank accounts
- Billing clients directly
- Managing past-due accounts
- Preparing monthly financial statements
- Handling payroll and withholding taxes
Why hire bookkeepers?
The trick to finding top bookkeepers is to identify your needs. Will they be entering data into an existing ledger, or is this your first time setting up a bookkeeping system? Will your bookkeeper also be responsible for your monthly tax filings? The cost of your bookkeeping project will depend largely on your scope of work and the specific skills needed to bring your project to life.
How much does it cost to hire a bookkeeper?
Rates can vary due to many factors, including expertise and experience, location, and market conditions. Learn about the cost to hire a bookkeeper.
Bookkeeping vs. accounting
What’s the difference between bookkeeping and accounting? A bookkeeper handles more clerical work than an accountant, although their roles do overlap. Bookkeepers record and deliver the numbers—all of your day-to-day transactions and expenses. They generate the data that can then be handed over to an accountant for more high-level analysis.
That data gets turned into valuable guidance for your business in the hands of an accountant. Generally, an accountant can do everything a bookkeeper can and more. But their true value lies in their ability to analyze and interpret numbers, then turn them into forecasts, actionable insights, and tools to help you make better decisions for your business. A great accountant will also be an expert in business and how your finances relate to your everyday operations.
The difference between the two really boils down to expertise, experience, and education. Bookkeepers have more on-the-job experience. Accountants will have 4-year degrees, while CPAs and licensed accountants will have that in addition to passing a national or state exam. Auditors, accountants, and bookkeepers can all obtain licenses and accreditations from various organizations by state, which is useful in understanding their particular expertise when you’re reviewing candidates.
The next important differentiation is experience with a particular software package. Many bookkeepers and accountants are exposed to payroll services, enterprise accounting software, etc. For example, larger companies using systems like Intuit or SAP will be hiring an individual who knows their way around that particular platform.
There’s definitely some overlap between the two—bookkeeping is essentially documenting financial records, and accounting includes bookkeeping in addition to taxes and analyzing those financial records to make decisions, assess the health of the operation, determine how effective effectiveness certain decisions were, and make plans to optimize processes.