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How to Identify the Right Candidate: 4 Traits to Look For

The Aston Carter thought leadership series examines strategies for navigating the finance and accounting staffing labor market.

In a labor market where unemployment rates have hit a generational low while job openings have reached a historic high, it’s been more difficult to find qualified accounting and finance talent. At the same time, it’s still important to uphold your standards when deciding which candidates to hire.

Since hiring compatible employees is a big decision, Aston Carter Senior Recruiter Kevin Sperandeo provides direction on how to identify accounting and finance candidates with the most potential to be the best assets for their employers.

1. The Right Candidate Has Resume Stability
When searching for the right candidates, hiring managers should look for detailed resumes showing stable and relevant work histories — especially from candidates who have worked for companies that are known for high performance. Though there’s no one-size-fits-all approach, employers tend to pursue people who seem to have committed to one industry.

“I’ve seen an instance where someone jumped from the accounting world to manufacturing to financial services and then to consumer products. If they're not staying with the same industry, that could be a potential red flag. I find that the best people in the accounting and finance world tend to stick with one field. They get really good at what they do and what companies are looking for,” says Sperandeo.

However, if you’re unsure about someone’s work history, don’t dismiss them without asking about it. They could be the excellent candidate you’re searching for.

2. The Right Candidate Has the Right Industry Experience
Candidates who remain in the same industry develop the most relevant experience for accounting and finance positions. The most qualified candidates are typically those with a niche background who specialize in financial services or in working for manufacturing companies, for example.

Strong software experience is also a candidate’s selling point that could make them an ideal match. They may not have SAP-specific experience, but their time working with another large ERP, such as Oracle, could make them the right fit. The same idea translates to adequate experience with a software equivalent to Quickbooks.

“I have seen great results with candidates who have strong software experience that match what a company is looking for,” says Sperandeo. “I recently worked with a company that needed to fill an AP manager role. They specifically wanted someone with a background in the software they were using for the same volume and types of invoices. We asked the hiring manager, ‘What companies should we look at that do similar work?’ We were able to match that company up with someone who had the same software and industry experience.”

3. The Right Candidate is Prepared
Hirable candidates spend time researching the company that a recruiter or hiring manager placed on their radar. They’re prepared for detailed discussions in interviews and follow-up conversations.

As a recruiter, Sperandeo takes note of favorable interactions with candidates. “The best candidates ask questions about our process and the companies we work with. They don't have issues presenting quality references. They follow up on time, prepare for interviews — which hold more weight than their resume — and do a thorough debrief with me.”

4. The Right Candidate Exudes Passion and Positivity
Employers should consider candidates with personal qualities that will contribute to a healthy and productive work environment, such as a positive attitude toward their previous employers, work experience and job search. Memorable candidates are also passionate about what they aim to do if hired for an accounting or finance position.

“Look for passionate people with good communication skills who ask questions. When I'm presenting a candidate to a company, I ask myself, ‘Are they someone I would want to work with?’ As much as we're matching up people who have the right accounting and finance skills, a lot of companies just want to hire good people they can work with every day,” says Sperandeo.

Set the Right Foundation for the Right Candidate
Before searching for ideal hires, it’s important for companies to grasp what candidates are looking for in the job market: daily responsibilities, company size, logistical factors, growth opportunities, compensation, etc. Knowing what potential employees want can build the foundation for employee longevity. That’s where working with a staffing company like Aston Carter reaps extra benefits.

Sperandeo says, “We actually sit down with hiring managers to find out not only what their needs are, but to also understand their employee value proposition. We ask, ‘Why would someone want to come and work at your company? What do the people who work here like best about working here?’ That way, when we're speaking to candidates, we're not just matching their compensation and job title criteria — we're matching them up with a place they’ll want to be for the long term.”

If your business could benefit from consultation about how to meet your staffing needs, contact Aston Carter now.

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