Tony Santiago is well known in the tax community as a straight shooting recruiter. As a native New Yorker, with over 30 years of experience in the business, you wouldn’t expect anything less.
Tony’s introduction to the recruiting business came very early in his budding legal career. As a second year law student, while attending an event, Tony met a gentleman from a staffing company who sold him on the possibilities of a career in the recruiting industry. The rest, as they say, is history.
After graduation, instead of pursuing a career as a lawyer, Tony went directly into working in the staffing business. At first he was a generalist, providing staffing referrals to organizations in various industries. However, with several years of experience in the business behind him, he quickly realized that he needed to carve out a niche for himself in order to be differentiated from other recruiters and to ensure long-term sustainability in the staffing business.
In 1987, as the owner of his own recruiting firm, Tony made the commitment to focus his staffing business on the tax profession and work across industry lines and geography throughout the United States. It has proven to be one of the best decisions he has made thus far - outside of marrying his beautiful and supportive wife.
Tony’s recruiting firm has focused on addressing many of the challenges facing the tax profession. Providing unique solutions to these challenges has allowed him to deliver superior services to his clients. The following are the business units of Tony’s recruiting firm that were created to address these challenges:
TaxSearch Incorporated (www.taxsearchinc.com): Building and maintaining World Class Tax Departments since 1987.
Tax Jobs (www.taxjobs.com): A cost effective alternative to contingency search models.
Tax Force (www.taxforce.com): The Bridge Staffing solution for progressive tax departments.
Tax Diversity (www.taxdiversity.com): A ”non-profit organization working to increase diversity within the tax profession.”
Tax Salary (www.taxsalary.com): Finally, a salary study that reflects real-world tax data.
Jobs in Tax (http://www.jobsintax.com/): The student connection to the Tax Profession.
- To provide a free resource for young students (high school and undergraduates) that may have an aptitude or interest in learning more about a career in the tax field.
- To provide graduates and graduate students with an accounting, finance, law or tax focus with a pre-career resource that provides more in-depth support and helps to bridge the gap between education and careers in tax.
- To provide parents and professors with relevant information to better support their children and students who are pursuing a possible tax career.
What do you love most about being the owner of your own tax recruiting firm (TaxSearch Incorporated)?
I’ve always wanted to help people, but I wanted to choose who I worked with and for, and how I deliver my services. It’s also important that my recruiting efforts are aligned with my client’s interests. I believe working with retained clients is the best model for achieving this goal. This method allows us to align with the clients’ specific needs and provide the exact deliverables required.
What is the most challenging part about running your own tax recruiting firm?
Separating myself and my firm from the bad experiences that most of our tax professionals have had with other recruiters. We pride ourselves in spending considerable time in identifying our client company’s needs which are non-negotiable vs. their prioritized wants, while spending as much time on these issues with the candidates as well. This data is the foundation for our ability to determine the quality of the match from both party’s perspectives. Additionally, in my opinion, any good recruiter should both first understand their client company (Hiring Authority, Who they report to, Key peer level associates, Human Resources, etc.) and candidate’s circle of influence (ie. spouse, children, current boss, mentor etc.) before attempting to determine the quality of the fit between candidate and employer.
It’s frustrating when a client contacts our office having (negative) past experiences with recruiters who take a more sales related approach, in contrast to our consultative method. However, once our client experiences this consultative method, we inevitably develop long term relationships that become more of a partner than a vendor.
Where do you see yourself five to ten years from now?
I would like to expand my current business by finding new ways to give my clients information they need to manage their career more effectively. I strongly believe that leveraging internet communication will provide better information to allow tax professionals to make better decisions. We are already laying the groundwork with the introduction of www.jobsintax.com where students are being provided better data regarding potentially entering the tax profession as early as high school.
What advice would you give to a law student or young lawyer who wants to pursue a career in tax?
Besides referring them to JobsInTax, I would emphasize locating a mentor or multiple mentors as soon as possible. Every top tier client who I’ve worked with has been able to provide at least one example of when a mentor has made a big impact on their career. Mentoring, to me, is just one way of getting information. Where you get this information may change as your career develops, but it’s important to start building these relationships early. Listening to advice and anecdotes of more senior, experienced tax professionals will help you get the information that you need to decide on your next career move.
Describe yourself in three words or less?
Passionate. Aggressive. People-person. Or you can just call me a skeptical-optimist.
If you could have dinner with one person in history, who is no longer living, who would it be?
Steve Jobs. He mirrors a lot of my thoughts about the value of using technology to deliver information. I don’t think anyone else was as equipped as he was to deal with the disruptive technological knowledge-based period in history.
What one thing would you bring with you if you were stranded on a desert island?
My wife or a computer with internet connection. I’m not sure if my wife would come with me, but I know the computer would, so I’ll go with the sure thing.
If you have any recruiting questions or just want to chat with Tony about tax, you can contact him at:
(843) 216-7888, or send him an email him: [email protected]
Written by Marsha Henry, Esq