For accounting departments already stretched thin by compliance initiatives and limited resources, a month may seem like too long to wait for help. But according to a recent survey of chief financial officers (CFOs), companies often spend at least that much time hiring a new accounting employee. CFOs polled said it takes them an average of four weeks to fill a staff-level accounting position and six weeks to bring a new manager on board.
The survey was developed by Robert Half International Inc., the world's first and largest staffing service specializing in the accounting, finance and information technology fields. It was conducted by an independent research firm and includes responses from 1,400 CFOs from a stratified random sample of U.S. companies with more than 20 employees.
CFOs were asked, "How many weeks does it typically take to hire for an open staff-level accounting position?" The mean response was four weeks.
Respondents were also asked, "How many weeks does it typically take to hire for an open management-level accounting position?" The mean response was six weeks.
"Hiring managers are often caught in a catch-22: short-staffed but unable to dedicate the necessary time to the recruiting process because of the additional work they are assuming," said Max Messmer, chairman and CEO of Robert Half International Inc. and author of Human Resources Kit For Dummies(R) (John Wiley & Sons, Inc.). "This is compounded by the pressure to avoid hiring mistakes, which can be particularly costly in accounting and finance departments, where accuracy and continuity of processes are critical."
Hiring wisely is essential, but taking too long to make a decision has its own set of pitfalls. "Overburdening the existing workforce can lead to further turnover," Messmer said.
Messmer advises companies to view recruitment as an ongoing process, whether or not the organization is actively looking to add staff. "By maintaining a broad personal and professional network, keeping in regular contact with recruiters and bringing in temporary professionals to handle rising workloads, hiring managers continuously have access to potential new employees."