Due to a talent shortage of qualified accountants and financial professionals, recruiting for these positions has proved challenging and demand for them has been quite high, according to the 2018 Robert Half Salary Guide for Accounting and Finance Professionals.
Ky Kingsley, Vice President, North America, with Robert Half Finance & Accounting, says that public accounting firms have gotten creative in their approach to recruiting accounting candidates. Despite having ‘brand recognition,’ Kingsley says that many large public accounting firms have had to come up with ways to offer technical accountants in public accounting settings some flexibility and more work life balance to retain their top talent.
“We expect these trends to continue,” says Kingsley. “There are no economic indicators that technical skills in the job market will change any time soon.”
With that in mind, the following six hiring trends have emerged to combat this shortage:
1. Employers Sweeten Their Compensation Packages
The survey revealed that competition to hire top performers is intense and heating up. To stand out from their competitors, employers are upping their game by offering higher salaries in tandem with more robust benefits and perks.
“We’re seeing job seekers take an increasingly holistic view when assessing whether to accept a job offer,” Paul McDonald, senior executive director for Robert Half said in a statement.
“Salary is still king, but professionals are paying more attention to other factors that can affect their quality of life,” he said.
Two points of particular emphasis for job seekers are work-life balance such as flexible schedules and working remotely and providing a career path. “Highly skilled professionals want assurance that the company will invest in their careers and help them keep their skills current,” McDonald said.
2. Firms Speed Up the Hiring Process
The demand for talented financial professionals means highly skilled candidates frequently receive multiple job offers. To avoid losing their top choice to another firm, companies find they need to accelerate their hiring process.
Moving fast offers an added benefit: Employers that move quickly avoid alienating applicants. Conversely, firms that drag out the process foster a reputation as an organization that is difficult to work with and doesn’t value professionals, their time or career needs.
3. Hiring Expectations Change
Firms need to be realistic and flexible about hiring. It is unrealistic to expect one candidate to have it all. Flexible organizations can prioritize specific areas of expertise, a good fit with the corporate culture and train new hires in needed software skills.
4. Professional Development Moves to the Forefront
A Robert Half Management Resources survey of CFOs found companies were nearly three times as likely to increase their professional development budget this year for training in compliance and technology.
For a robust professional development program Robert Half recommends the following options:
- Assign projects forcing employees to expand their skills and expertise.
- Facilitate mentorships, including arrangements where professionals earlier in their careers take a lead role sharing insights with more experienced colleagues.
- Implement role rotation, allowing your team to gain exposure and lend their expertise to different finance and accounting functions.
- Invite guest speakers to present at staff meetings.
- Ask individuals returning from a conference to share their key learnings with colleagues.
5. Retention Becomes an Even Greater Focus
As much as firms are ramping up their efforts to attract skilled candidates, they’re finding they must pay the same attention to retaining their top performers. Companies that can’t retain talented employees will face the same hiring challenges all over again while trying to replace the employees they’ve lost.
6. Interim Staffing Meets a Variety of Needs
Companies benefit from working with project professionals in a number of ways. Interim staff can provide expertise unavailable in-house and support initiatives such as a merger integration or system upgrades. In addition to covering for staffing gaps, they can step in while a hiring search is being conducted and be available for temporary-to-hire opportunities.
For more information and findings in the Robert Half survey, click here.