A Conversation With Todd Goldstein: Employment outlook in accounting and finance

Hiring should increase over the next few months in accounting and finance, but at least in the early stages, “The increase will not be at levels that will make a huge difference in the number of individuals looking for jobs,” says Todd Goldstein, president of Adept Resources, Inc. (ARI), a financial staffing and online recruiting firm in Los Angeles, California. ARI is the parent company of AccountingJobsToday, a portal for employers and job candidates, and MyAccountingLife.  

“The worst is behind us,” Goldstein says, “but the cuts were very deep and affected a lot of people. And the recruiting and hiring process has completely changed. Everything leading up to what triggers a hire has changed, from finding jobs to interviewing, and the emergence of social media. The good news is that both employers and jobs seekers have so many tools and options available to them for connecting with each other.  The challenge is determining what tools are best for you.”
 
Stakeholders in recruiting and hiring have also changed during this recession. His phone is ringing, Goldstein says, “But the sense of urgency employers once had is gone. They take a long look at the fee they will pay to a search firm and say, 'Can we wait?'" The interview process takes much longer, and there are many call backs. “They want the right person.” 
 
“Candidates just want a job. They don’t have a lot of conditions. For example, before the cutbacks, nobody wanted to commute from the San Fernando Valley over the Santa Monica Mountains into Los Angeles. Now, that’s not a problem.” Relocating is not easy, “but applicants are still applying for jobs in other cities. I tell them to contact me when they have relocated.” Employers and employees have become much more accustomed to hiring for project work. 
 
“Public accounting firms will hire sooner than private industry, Goldstein says, because “Accounting firms could not ramp up during the boom years from 2006 – 2008. Hiring was very difficult then, because there weren’t enough accounting students. I am already seeing some hiring in public accounting firms, for people with four to seven years’ experience.”
 
“There has been a pullback in internships in both accounting firms and private industry, because firms want to be able to hold on to the staff they have,” Goldstein says. “But as time goes by, there may be repercussions for firms that aren’t hiring recent graduates, because they won’t have enough trained staff in the pipeline.” 
 
Hiring in the private sector will be driven by growth in normal business activity -- production and sales -- with a resulting increase in billings and other finance operations. Goldstein says he doesn’t see any green jobs or anything comparable to the surge in finance and accounting jobs that followed the passage of Sarbanes Oxley Act. “It is possible that health care reform, if it happens, may drive some new job creation in billing, coding, and retraining. Hiring in private industry will be industry and company specific.”
 
Learning to use new tools effectively is essential for everyone who is active in today’s employment market. “Today, job boards, for example, are very niche and geo-targeted.  Much like recruiters and staffing firms, there seems to be a specialty job board for every profession, job category, or even the city and county you live in. On AccountingJobsToday, a candidate can view postings by geographical location, and sign up for a personalized job alert. Employers can use the site to manage their recruiting, store resumes, and contact candidates.”
 
Most prospective employers and employees will be checking profiles on Facebook, LinkedIn, and some of the targeted networking sites, but “the social media can be overwhelming for some people,” Goldstein says. “'How much time do I have to spend on it? How often do I blog?’ There are so many ways to communicate and brand your firm or present yourself as an applicant. If you are feeling overwhelmed, you need to change what you are doing.” 
 
“Firms need an organized, a very solid plan for using the social media. They should find out where the other employers are networking. They need to do some due diligence. Firms and job seekers both have to pick and choose what matters to them. They need to employ a filter so as to limit their activities to what they know will have a return.
 
“But what you put into these networks, just as with the business groups or meetings that you attend locally, is what you will get out of it. If you have the courage to reach out and present yourself in unique ways, you can connect in ways you cannot imagine.” 
 
Goldstein says the “most exciting thing for me right now is the unknown, although that isn’t always easy for people. It is exciting to be a part of an industry that’s going through a complete shift -- from what were traditional recruiting activities to a new set of skills. Social media and the Internet continue to push companies and staffing firms to be creative and step outside of their comfort zone.” 
 
Goldstein’s comprehensive and diverse background includes executive search, business development, customer service, search engine optimization, search engine marketing, strategic partnerships, executive compensation, and salary negotiation.  Prior to founding Adept Resources in October 2002, he served as vice president of business development for an online mental health referral service.  Goldstein began his recruiting career in 1996 with Accountants on Call (now Ajilon Finance) where he rose to become sales manager for two of the top producing branches in Southern California.
 

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