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Navigating The Finance and Accounting Labor Market

You already know that it’s difficult to hire finance and accounting talent. The great resignation has impacted nearly every industry, and the combination of early retirees, record-high job switching and employee burnout has created a labor market where the competition for talent is stiff.

As hiring managers know all too well, the need for niche, industry-specific skills and experiences can make a challenging job market even more difficult to navigate. Understanding the hiring market and knowing how to find and retain the right talent can help ensure your business connects with the finance and accounting employees you need.

What is The Current Financial Hiring Market Like?

The effects of the COVID-19 pandemic continue to influence worker behavior and retention rates. Even though unemployment rates have declined to pre-pandemic levels, employees in today’s labor market are still more likely to leave their jobs or stop participating in the labor force altogether due to early retirement and other factors.

In the financial industry specifically, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported 534,000 job openings in April 2022, while there were 249,000 workers who severed ties with their company that same month. The number of hires reported in April 2022 was 271,000, leaving 263,000 vacant positions in the financial industry that month.

Yes, It’s a Candidate’s Market

Experts confirm what the numbers indicate: it’s tough out there if you’re looking for financial professionals, especially those with specialized skills.

Currently, the number of available jobs exceeds the number of candidates looking for work, signifying it’s a candidate’s market. All things considered, the long odds haven’t led employers to loosen their standards and turn to candidates who have more generalized skills. At least, not yet.

When it comes to contract hires, organizations typically need to onboard people very quickly and don’t have the time or resources it takes to boost time-to-productivity. Because of this, they’re looking to hire individuals who already have the necessary skill sets and can hit the ground running.

Given the high-demand, limited-supply scenario, what about hiring from other industries? While that is occurring in some cases — between healthcare and biotech, for example — it’s more the exception than the norm. Most finance and accounting managers are interested in candidates within the same industry, and who already have the niche skill sets required to get the job done.

The takeaway? The combination of immediate need-to-hire and must-have skills can result in a perfect storm of unfilled positions, inefficient hiring processes, and interrupted workflow.

But working with partners who maintain regular tabs on available talent can help companies weather the storm.

It’s All in the Timing

Consider this scenario: You’re looking for a permanent hire with very specific skills and work experience, and you don’t want to settle for anything but an A+ candidate. At the same time, you have immediate needs to fill, so you look for temporary help to bridge the gap.

Given the tight market, what are the chances that a suitable contract worker will be available when you need them? Enter a reliable recruiting partner.

Finding the right contract worker is a recruiter’s main job, they make it a priority to know who is available and when. Beyond the logistics, they also prioritize getting to know individual candidates and work toward building strong relationships with them. As a result, candidates often come to their recruiters for new opportunities once they’re available to work again.

Because they need to be proactive, recruiters are experts in keeping tabs on when certain contracts will end and when new roles are open or are soon going to become available.

How to Operate in Today’s Hiring Market

With so few qualified candidates available for accounting and finance positions, and with turnover rates nearly double what they have been in previous years, it can be hard to know how to attract and retain talent. It may be time to reevaluate your priorities and offerings, without sacrificing quality.

Be Flexible

One way to find talent in a challenging hiring environment is to rethink your approach without lowering your standards. It can take many months to find the perfect candidate. If a temporary contract hire fits the profile, the culture and proves to be a solid performer, they might be a great permanent fit.

It may also be time to rethink your requirements. If you absolutely need a CPA with a Big Four background, then your recruiter will find someone to fill the gap. But if you can do without that specific experience, then the contract worker who is exceeding expectations may be worth a longer look.

And flexibility is a two-way street. Even though the job outlook for financial professionals is bright, waiting for the perfect position can get in the way of a solid career move.

As they say, it’s a win/win.

Make Retention Part of the Strategy

Finally, employee retention becomes even more important at times like these. That’s why recruiters maintain contact with their clients and candidates. They regularly check in with candidates and hiring managers at the end of their first week and every month thereafter to make sure that expectations are being met on both sides.

While you may have hired a candidate thinking they would only be there until the end of their contract, be prepared for a possible pleasant surprise when your temporary hire turns out to be your top choice for a hard-to-fill permanent position.

Top Finance and Accounting Skills in Demand Right Now

Even though different types of accountants and financial experts specialize in specific tasks, there are some skills that span the industry. Some of the most sought-after accounting and finance soft skills are:

Analyzing and Thinking Critically

One of the most important skills for a successful finance professional or accountant is the ability to analyze and interpret financial data. While there are many software programs that can collect and organize information, the human element of applying that information to a real-life scenario and making decisions that move finances forward is where this skill truly comes into play.

Organizing and Communicating

All the insight in the world is of no use if it’s not organized and communicated effectively. Additionally, staying organized makes it easier to hit important deadlines and find the information that’s needed when it’s needed — both vital skills for accountants and anyone else in the finance industry.

Keeping Up With Changes and Adapting When Needed

As with any industry, regulations and standards surrounding accounting, tax preparation, financial reporting and more change over time. A good accountant or financial professional will be able to monitor and react to these changes to not only maintain your company’s financial health, but also propel them forward toward growth.

With so many challenges in today’s competitive hiring landscape, it can take months or years to find the perfect candidate. Bringing on a managed solutions partner can connect you with qualified finance and accounting job seekers quickly. With access to a deep network of specialized talent, we can help you find the exact skill sets your business needs to succeed. Beyond staffing, a managed solutions provider also assists with critical functions like onboarding, training and performance optimization. These capabilities not only help your employees feel supported from day one, but they also help in retaining top talent.

If your business could benefit from a consultation about the best ways to find your most sought-after skill sets in the finance and accounting labor market, contact Aston Carter now.