In Pursuit of Profit
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Using a company with a niche financial recruiting focus ensures that they will understand the specifics of what you are looking for and have a pipeline of qualified job seekers to tap into. Furthermore, accounting and finance recruiters are more likely to have access to the right kind of connections to approach candidates that are not necessarily actively looking for a new role but would be open to the possibility of making a change.
But even among accounting recruiters, how can you tell which ones are the best? Top-notch recruiting companies will not be afraid to give you shrewd advice like:
1. Specific Systems Experience Isn’t Necessary
Companies often post open roles with the types of accounting systems that they use included in the job description. It is fine to include this information (or not include it, depending on your own preference), but using systems experience as hiring criteria is not a wise decision.
A good accounting recruiter will tell you that from a management perspective, all accounting systems are basically the same. As long as the company isn’t doing business in multiple currencies, experience with one accounting system will carry over to another. Once an accountant has learned how to use a couple of platforms, they can pick up the rest fairly quickly because they will understand the underlying financial mechanics. For instance, you do not necessarily need to find an accountant that has worked with Xero or Freshbooks as long as they have QuickBooks experience.
Please note, there’s a difference between having different experience and no experience. Don’t confuse the two! You don’t want to hire someone into an accounting role that has never worked with accounting software, but don’t be so quick to rule out a candidate with a similar skillset.
2. You May Not Need a CPA
Another area where hiring managers get hung up on requirements for their role is in determining what kind of certifications are necessary. Sometimes companies will specify that they’re looking for a CPA to fill their open accounting role when there is no real basis for doing so. A savvy recruiter will remind you that looking for a CPA when you don’t really need one will likely draw out the hiring process and demand that you budget a higher salary for the role without any real return.
And, if you don’t actually need a CPA, then a CPA may not thrive in the role. As our team elaborates,
It is a myth that CPAs automatically come with higher levels of industry-specific knowledge. The CPA is a general test, and most CPAs who come from public accounting gain experience across multiple client industries in their tenure. In this case, a company is better off focusing on finding a candidate with deep industry accounting experience than focusing on a CPA license as a required qualification.
3. The First Candidate May be "The One"
Any good recruiter will tell you that you need to move fast to scoop up top talent these days. And yet, management is often reluctant to hire quickly for fear of making a costly mistake. As Perry Paden explains when discussing cost of vacancy, “Hiring managers are largely unaware of how important it is to minimize the amount of time that a role remains vacant and how quickly they need to move once they have found a good fit to hire top talent.”
Top accounting recruiters will tell you that the first candidate you get may be the best one because hiring is only going to get harder as the year goes on. According to recent data, the pool of accountants is shrinking because the number of people pursuing accounting degrees is declining, the rate of retirement among accounting/finance professionals is increasing, and a large percentage of accountants are considering leaving the field.
4. Industry Switching is Becoming Common
In Quinn Finnigan’s April 2023 recruiting report he touches on an interesting new trend – industry switching. While some accountants may be more likely to consider switching professions entirely, others are just looking for an industry change. For example, accountants that have previously worked in the services industry, tech, or manufacturing may be looking for a change of industries. Experienced accounting recruiters will tell you not to count these professionals out when looking to fill your next role. As Quinn says, “If you're a hiring manager this could be a great time to take advantage of bringing in highly skilled candidates with new perspectives who may not have sought [out] your industry previously.”
5. Late-Career Candidates Deserve Consideration Too
We frequently hear hiring managers talk about how they want to hire someone into their role that will stay with the company for the long-term. However, that is not a realistic expectation. These days people simply stay in roles for less time than they used to, which means there is no logical basis for refusing to consider professionals that are towards the end of their careers.
Well-informed accounting and finance recruiters will tell you that there are many benefits to hiring late-career professionals. As our recruiting team articulates,
A candidate in the last third of their career is likely a subject matter expert. In addition, late-career candidates often have much more lived experience and bring much needed perspective, patience, and gained wisdom to many situations, whether in a manager role or as an individual contributor.
You can hire smarter in accounting by reviewing a candidate’s resume for the kind of responsibilities and skills that show a pattern of specializing in a particular area that is meaningful to the role regardless of their age or career stage.
6. Compensation is Key
Pay is always a recruiting hot topic but with accounting job seekers getting more offers these days, compensation packages have become even more important. Our team offers this accounting hiring advice, “Look at the offer you are making objectively. Would you accept it? Unfortunately, too many companies make the offer that they want to provide not necessarily the offer that a top candidate wants to accept.”
Remember, salary and benefits are only part of the equation when it comes to an accountant’s total compensation package. A good accounting recruiter should be able to provide current salary benchmarks to help you create a competitive offer.
7. Candidates are More Selective Now
Accounting candidates are evaluating more simultaneous offers these days than they were 5 or 10 years ago. As a result, a good compensation package is no longer the differentiator that it once was. Today, a solid compensation package with a competitive salary, ample benefits, adequate PTO, and some added perks is expected. The things that will really cause an employer to stand out tend to be more related to professional fulfillment. Candidates are looking for companies that can offer the chance to be heard, feel respected, receive support, and make a difference in the future of the company. Basically, candidates want to know that they will be set up for success in the role and have their hard work valued.
8. Remote Work is Essential
At this point it’s well accepted that the traditional office is dead. Companies that still expect their accounting and finance staff to come into the office every day are going to have a tough time recruiting top talent. Hybrid is the new trend with fewer onsite days per week to cater to employees’ overwhelming preference for work flexibility. But hiring managers shouldn’t see this as a concession because offering remote work allows access to a much wider pool of candidates. Experienced accounting recruiters will tell you that offering fully remote roles facilitates faster hiring and attracts better quality candidates, which is a financial win-win for employers.
9. You’re Not Going to Find a “Fixer”
Over the last few months, we have heard more angst than usual about the state of accounting departments across the country. Messy books, manual processes, mistakes, and backlogged reconciliations are slowing down companies and troubling their overworked bookkeeping and accounting staff.
Companies are coming to us looking to hire a “fixer” to tackle these problems and get them back on track. Unfortunately, as Quinn Finnigan explains in his most recent accounting recruiting report,
While there are replacement candidates who can take on the "fix it" type role, they are few and far between and most often the best solution is to bring on contract help to improve the situation internally so that hiring a full-time person becomes a more attractive proposition.
A recruiter should be honest with you about this hiring constraint and work with you to find the right solution to fit your needs.
10. There May Be Better Options Available
Remember, when you need help, hiring is not your only option. Outsourcing the work may be a better option based on your needs.
At ASP we offer both accounting and finance recruiting and outsourced bookkeeping and accounting services to a wide range of business types and industries. Contact us today to find out more about how our team of accountants can come alongside your business to provide the kind of accounting support it needs to succeed!