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Building a Knowledgeable Strategy for Hiring Accountants

There’s no trend in finance and accounting hiring more prevalent than the effect of historically low unemployment rates. Regardless of industry or subsector, hiring managers and CFOs alike have struggled to adequately resource their accounting departments.

What’s the secret to finding the right talent?

We asked Aston Carter Divisional Practice Lead Jonathan Cieski, whose seven years of experience placing candidates includes accounting and finance staffing for clients in a variety of industries.

His advice, in a word: knowledge.

Recruiting accounting candidates is now more difficult than ever, and finding the right candidate for the right job requires doing your homework. Put in the effort to develop an informed perspective of the labor market, including constraints on the fundamental needs associated with each available position as well as the desires of individual candidates.

How the Labor Market Has Flipped the Script

“Three years ago we probably had three or four excellent candidates lined up for every role." says Cieski. “Now we're seeing each candidate getting multiple offers and counter-offers.”

With accounting candidates, hiring practices and attitudes need to change. Says Cieski, “It’s now much more important to put in the extra work to identify the right person early in the funnel, and then moving quickly, versus waiting for applications and then sifting through 10 or 15 resumes.”

Industry-Specific and Company-Specific Constraints

In addition to a paucity of available accounting talent, each industry — and even each company — will have specific target skillset requirements that shrink the candidate pool even further. Leveraging an understanding of the labor market in each subsector to readjust the line that separates a “need” from a “want” can spell the difference between unfilled positions and fully staffed teams.

“The basics involved are understanding what the job absolutely has to involve and then what pay range is tolerable,” says Cieski. “Once that’s set, it’s time to have a series of conversations about how much experience is necessary, what kind of experience is necessary, the title, the educational background, finding where the wiggle room is that keeps the candidate pool open.”

Finding the right candidate doesn’t always mean being flexible about skillset requirements for a set position. Sometimes the better question to ask is, “What position should we actually be hiring for?” If internal resources can be trained or reallocated to perform niche tasks where the external labor market is particularly thin, it may be easier to hire available external labor to backfill vacated operational tasks.

Selling Yourself In A Candidate’s Market

As important as knowledge of the market and an honest self-assessment of needs are to a successful hiring strategy, it’s equally important to use this knowledge to inform your dialogue with accounting candidates.

Accurately communicating structure, culture, training, growth opportunities and promotion schedules are an important way to build immediate trust with the right candidates. “That alone could be the difference between filling an open position and spending your resources chasing someone who ultimately won’t be interested,” says Cieski.

Getting to know available candidates is also an imperative. Says Cieski, “Understanding the goals, skills and interests of each candidate is a critical component of the hiring process.”

Finding Knowledgeable Partners

With available talent being so difficult to find, hiring is more labor-intensive than ever before.

With knowledge being the key to making it all work, there’s never been a better time to pursue relationships with a staffing partner with the total labor market awareness that your company may not have time to build.

Before doing so, ask if they:

  • Understand the current labor market for accountants, including industry-specific niches;
  • Can partner to help you adjust your hiring strategy to fit talent availability; and
  • Can relay your requirements accurately to a base of candidates who are targeted early in the hiring process funnel.

If your staffing partner doesn’t have the specialized knowledge required to help you manage the current labor environment, contact Aston Carter now to find out how to match your resourcing needs with available talent.

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