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Tips for Taking A Proactive Approach in Accounting & Finance Hiring


By Melanie Hudson, Manager, Accounting and Finance Executive Search

Accounting and finance jobs are projected to grow 10 percent in the decades 2016–2026, faster than the 7.36 percent average increase expected for all occupations. In 2016, the U.S. government counted 1,397,700 people working as auditors and accountants. By 2026, 139,900 projected new jobs will bring total employment to 1,537,600.

Like other sectors, jobs growth in accounting and finance is tied to the healthy economy and retiring Baby Boomers. However, the passage of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act in December 2017 have pushed companies toward greater-than-normal hiring levels in accounting and finance due to an increased need to manage compliance and governmental issues. This creates a need for more experienced candidates with CPAs or a Master’s in Accounting.

Public firms seem to be feeling the pinch even more than private companies. This is primarily because CPA firms are competing against each other within a small pool of candidates and a large amount of them start to seek reduced office hours for a better work/life balance after a few years in public. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that the number of partners over age 50 at U.S. CPA firms has declined for the first time, from 69.9 percent to 65.6 percent.  This forces public firms to seek creative approaches in attracting candidates away from their competitors.

With an increased need for experienced accounting and finance professionals, competition for talent has become fierce with salary expectations increasing dramatically across the board. This can pose large challenges to companies’ budgets and cause equity issues with tenured employees. Companies in smaller markets are experiencing these challenges even more due to large talent deficits which forces them to look for ways to lure candidates from larger and more lucrative markets.

FGP is among the largest accounting and finance recruitment firms in the Southeast, working with corporate accounting departments, public accounting firms and small businesses across a diverse geographic footprint and multiple industries. Our contingency and retained searches cover everything from entry level accountants to CFOs. Our role extends beyond recruiting to include consulting as we try to educate our clients on what they can do to differentiate themselves in a competitive environment and attract and retain top talent. As an advisor, we can provide a realistic view of how a company’s job opening compares to its’ competitors to ensure the role can be filled effectively and within a given timeframe so that job productivity isn’t negatively impacted.

Salaries Are Only the Beginning

Among the first things we tell our clients is to be aware of the market demands and trends for the jobs they have open. Higher salaries often are just the beginning in today’s competitive environment. Everything from bonus plans to signing bonuses are on the table. Today’s candidates are deliberate in their job search, interviewing at multiple companies, comparing offers and making certain that they’re making the right move.

Increase the Perks

Today’s job perks stretch well beyond a good benefits package, which is a must. A flexible schedule and work-at-home options are among the top perks on almost every list, no matter the job sector. Wellness programs, gym memberships, child care assistance and office perks such as free lunches and casual dress also are important.

A recent Glassdoor survey revealed the 16 employee perks that deliver the biggest bang. They are:

  1. Health Insurance
  2. Vacation/Paid Time Off
  3. Performance Bonuses
  4. Paid Sick Days
  5. 401(k), Retirement Plan and/or Pension
  6. Flexible Schedule/Work from Home
  7. Office Perks
  8. Employee Development Programs
  9. Tuition Reimbursement
  10. Employee Discounts
  11. Gym Membership or Wellness Programs
  12. Stock Options and/or Equity
  13. Paid Parental Leave
  14. Childcare Assistance
  15. Commuter Assistance
  16. Diversity Programs

Loosen Job Requirements

Many companies searching for accounting and finance talent are finding that they must increase salaries or lessen job requirements. For example, several of our clients are exploring ways to hire more entry level Accountants and train them on specific tasks like cost accounting or fund accounting. This can take more time to have an employee fully up to speed but ultimately can result in keeping salaries in check while also showing employees that you are willing to invest in their careers.

Commit to Training and Development

Looking at the Glassdoor list of perks, employee development programs hold the No. 8 position. Beyond training programs that teach the technical skills of a job, employees also are looking for opportunities to identify and achieve personal and professional goals. Ongoing employee training and development is a great retention tool. In an environment where companies must work so hard to find top talent, employee retention is more important than ever.

Create a Talent Pipeline

Effective recruiters understand that creating relationships with candidates and creating an ongoing pipeline of talent are crucial in today’s job market. Companies can take similar approaches to increase their talent pool. While a candidate may not be the best fit for the job at hand, are there reasons to bring him or her on board now for a future opening? If that isn’t an option, companies can create a talent pipeline by identifying a group of candidates that fit their typical criteria and then stay connected with those individuals so that when there is an opening, they can pull from that group of individuals.  We encourage companies to think ahead so that they’re not always hiring in a reactive position.

Improve the Hiring Process

To stand out in this competitive job market, companies may need to explore a change in their hiring process. There are multiple ways to do so which could include more detailed job descriptions, a short and effective interview process, collateral that showcases the benefits of working for the organization and providing feedback throughout the process. Companies typically expect candidates to show up and sell themselves. In today’s environment, candidates are choosing companies, so companies must do a better job of selling themselves and do so much earlier in the hiring process.

While accounting and finance professionals may be harder to attract in the current economy, hiring effective employees and keeping them is crucial to the success of an organization. With more effective planning and a creative outlook, companies can position themselves as an employer of choice which will make hiring in any job market easier.