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2019 Outlook: How to Navigate the Challenging Hiring Landscape in Finance and Accounting

As the 2019 finance and accounting labor market remains difficult for hiring managers, Aston Carter expert Clint Utz explains methods that are helping everybody.

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

You’ve no doubt already seen a few articles about 2019 labor market trends.

The fact is, the basic market fundamentals for hiring finance and accounting talent in 2019 project as a continuation of what happened throughout 2018 and the previous five years.

You can expect similarly high rates of quits, baby boomer retirements, wage growth and job openings, with low unemployment. Finding — and retaining — top finance and accounting talent is hard, and will likely stay that way.

To find out how finance and accounting hiring will be addressing the challenges posed by the 2019 labor market, we spoke with Aston Carter Account Manager Clint Utz, who has seven years of experience placing finance and accounting talent in the United States’ fastest-paced hiring market, Kansas City.

The Need for Speed

While employers have little control over a majority of the factors that created the tight labor market, speed to hire is not one of them.

“You have to be willing to move quickly or you will lose great talent,” says Utz. “The best way to do so is to know what you want, know your timeline and then be swift in action by trusting your hiring partner to deliver.”

A Glassdoor survey of interview tendencies bears out the need for hiring urgency. By evaluating the total year’s data for binary factors associated with employers alone, rather than other contextual factors such as industry, job opening and location, the survey found that company-specific factors explained 14.7 percent of variation in hiring delays.

Put another way, that’s nearly a 15 percent advantage your competitors may have in luring away top talent, based solely on the relative speed of their hiring process. That’s enough to potentially leave you with a B+ ceiling for talent.

Utz recommends evaluating your approval process for new hires, and see if there are any loopholes that could easily be closed. Streamlining your hiring process could have an added benefit — the increased trust and autonomy, and reduced frustration you’ll give hiring managers may also help retention within the HR department.

Making Investments Without Causing Lag

While 2019’s labor market projects “more of the same,” the continuation of long-time trends can accumulate into a snowball effect that changes attitudes. Overall economic growth has been slow but steady for years, which means that balance sheets are generally in a healthy place, and companies are starting to grow the confidence to match.

“You're going to see investments in enterprise resource planning upgrades and implementations,” predicts Utz. “Any efficiency-adding or cloud-based accounting project that has been on the docket for five years, or even 10 years, it's go time now.”

But who will be running those projects in 2019?

In a less robust economy, with a less restrictive labor market, companies might push initiatives through their existing staff, with maybe a couple of extra hires to handle the added workflow.

Now, an ounce of retention is worth a pound of hire. So rather than pushing current staff past capacity with large-scale software installs, companies will rely on project-level consultants and contract labor.

Leveraging Your Staffing Partner’s Momentum

The demand for new finance and accounting employees is high, and the market of available talent is thin. This has been the case for years now.

Demand is high for hiring consultants in this market. And through a broad variety of partnerships, staffing firms are learning the ins and outs of the market at an accelerated pace.

“Not every approach is going to work for every company, but working with 400-plus clients allows me to leverage a really broad knowledge base of specific problems and solutions,” says Utz.

While 2019 promises to continue recent trends in labor market fundamentals, the right approach to hire top talent will evolve rapidly and expose potential new efficiencies. Keeping up with the competition will require shifting approaches, and relying on partners with a finger on the pulse of the latest methods.

If your business could benefit from a consultation about how best to find your most sought-after candidate skillset in the finance and accounting labor market, contact Aston Carternow.

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