In Pursuit of Profit
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I’ve seen many clients struggle to find accounting help over the last two years across all employment levels – from bookkeeper all the way through CFO. I’ve seen new hires simply not show up for their first day without any notice. I’ve seen new employees resign less than a month after starting for other opportunities or just to leave a work culture they don’t like. Workforce expectations have shifted dramatically over the past five years and employers are struggling to fill open positions amid these changes. In fact, Manpower surveys indicate that 75% of employers report difficulty in finding skilled accounting talent.
The role you need depends on your business needs, so let’s look at common business triggers that most likely require needing the next level of financial role, and what kind of activities and responsibilities each role typically includes. We’ll start with bookkeeper and work our way up to Chief Financial Officer (CFO).
I discovered many parts of the HR world matched my interests, so I wanted to be a finance leader who had some real HR knowledge. I pursued an SPHR (Senior Professional in Human Resources) designation, which required studying materials and taking an exam. As time passed, I realized recruiting was the part of HR I really liked because I am a lifetime connector. Fast forward to today and I have spent most of the past 20 years as a recruiter.
One topic that is a continual area of consternation within the recruiting world is job titles. Job seekers and hiring companies alike struggle with accounting and finance job titles. I’ll tell you why and what you can do about it when looking for or posting an accounting job:
If done well, your new hires will feel important, supported, and immediately motivated to do their best work for you and your organization. When left as an afterthought, however, new employees may end up feeling undervalued, unsupported, or even ostracized by the rest of your team.
Surprisingly, one of the best experiences that I’ve had with onboarding came from a backpacking trip with my daughter. These are the critical lessons I can take away from my experience.
She knows the ins and outs of the company’s accounting software, which isn’t perfect, but it works well enough for ABC Company’s needs right now. Sharon really doesn’t make mistakes – she is fastidious in the work that she does and has a system for everything. But, even with the quality work that Sharon is doing, ABC Company knows it needs to bring someone else in to help her because there is simply too much work for one accountant to handle anymore. Plus, Sharon is getting close to retirement age, which means that they will need to bring someone in to replace her when she decides to retire in a few years to follow her dream of traveling around the country in an RV.
How does ABC Company bring in help for Sharon without offending her? How do they convey that while they are happy with the work Sharon is doing, they need redundancy in case Sharon gets sick or is out on disability leave? How does ABC Company put the right personnel in place now so that they have continuity when Sharon decides to retire? How do they hire a senior accountant or controller to help implement a new accounting system to grow with them as their needs change and evolve?
There may not be a Sharon at every company, but every business can benefit from learning how to tactfully bring in senior accounting staff. Taking the right approach in the hiring process is crucial because it can truly mean the difference between success and failure. When done correctly, a new hire can complement and elevate your existing team. When done incorrectly, a new hire can lead to resentment and distrust, poisoning the team culture and fueling needless turnover.
Employers need to realize that they may not find an accountant that checks every one of their “nice-to-have” boxes, but if they work with an experienced accounting recruiter, they will find someone that fits their “must-have” needs. And, the sooner they can figure this out, the better because having an open role costs an average of $98/day, and rehiring an accounting employee after letting go of a bad hire costs over $50,000 on average! Therefore, to minimize hiring costs employers need to rethink their expectations around work flexibility, compensation, accounting improvements, and training when looking to fill a role.
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.
That figure is staggering but let's focus on your individual calculation. There are many different ways to calculate Cost of Vacancy (COV), but it’s not just the dollars and cents of salaries and benefits that need to be considered (although that is certainly at the forefront of hiring managers’ minds). You can also put real numbers behind morale, burnout, turnover, overtime, and the overall attitude of an accounting or finance department.
Similarly, the recruiters at The ASP Team follow a process to help their clients find the right candidate who fits with their available accounting and finance position and culture – a work match!
The Association of International Certified Professional Accountants (AICPA) publishes an annual report detailing accounting program enrollment and graduate hiring trends. In their most recent report, they provided data on a problem that the accounting industry has been facing for the last decade. The problem is that fewer people are choosing accounting as a career. Our conversations with colleagues have yielded the same kind of feedback. It seems that fewer people (even those majoring in accounting) are going into accounting these days upon graduation. The AICPA backs this observation with data showing that from 2019-2020 the number of accounting graduates dropped by 2.8% at the undergraduate level and 8.4% at the graduate level. Furthermore, the hiring of new accounting graduates in 2020 decreased by 10%.