How to Find Great Accounting Professionals

It’s not your imagination: it is tough to find great accounting professionals today.

Accounting Today reported in April 2020 that about 68,000 accounting and bookkeeping positions were eliminated just in the two months or so since the pandemic began.

A November 2020 jobs report found that accounting/bookkeeping services lost 2.4K jobs, a decrease of 2.3 percent from the previous year.

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However, just as it’s done for many business sectors, unemployment for accounting professionals has increased and there’s now something of a shortage.

In fact, Accounting Today reported in December on another survey and found that 31 percent of accounting firms “recruiting/retaining employees” was one of the top things “keeping them up at night.” (Note: this worry was greater “keeping up with regulatory change” as well as “acquiring and retaining new clients” and “keeping up with technology.”

Types of accounting/bookkeeping professionals in the most demand

So what accounting/bookkeeping positions are in most demand? Salary.com reported last year that the most in-demand jobs will be:

  • Accounting clerk
  • Accountant
  • Financial analyst
  • Internal auditor
  • Tax accountant
  • Controller
  • Chief Financial Officer (CFO)

Industries that have the greatest need for accounting and bookkeeping specialists.

  • Small and mid-sized businesses need public accountants to help them work with unpredictable cash flows and changing compliance requirements
  • Corporations need help from accountants to help them keep their business sustainable in the coming years.
  • The government needs finance/accounting/bookkeeping specialists due to the need to scale up quickly to address the many – and unprecedented – financial aid programs created during the pandemic.
  • Financial services institutions (banks, credit unions, etc.) need employees to help the public secure lines of credit and reorganize debt during tough times.
  • Healthcare enterprises (hospitals, clinics, private practices) need finance, accounting and bookkeeping professionals to deal with new (technological) payment processes, billing and reconciliations.

Recruiting strategies and tactics to find these hard-to-find specialists

Your first step is to decide if you need to actually hire someone on to your own payroll or whether it might be better to engage the services of a staffing agency that focuses on accounting/finance/bookkeeping professionals and bringing someone on for a temporary or contract-to-hire basis.

This can benefit you as well as the specialist: both of you can “try each other out” before making a long-term employment commitment. Both of you can see if you’re a good fit for each other.

If you need to hire someone NOW, you’re behind

We aren’t trying to be harsh, but if you’re starting to look for someone only when you have a true need, you’re late to the party.

And it probably will take you far longer to find a great person than if you had “been recruiting” even when you had no need. (You also run the risk of hiring in haste and letting the person go relatively quickly.)

Always think ahead and forecast. Connect and network with folks who may not be right for current roles, but keep in touch (via newsletters, emails, even phone calls) so that you can keep them “warm” in your talent pipeline for when you do need someone.

Tips for keeping your accounting/finance/bookkeeping talent pipeline full

In addition to keeping in touch with candidates you don’t hire during a particular search, consider:

  • Hitting up college career centers.
  • Linking up with the college’s alumni program.
  • Presenting “how to find a job” seminars at colleges, libraries, accounting/finance associations, etc.
  • Asking current finance/accounting/bookkeeping employees for referrals.

Make sure the job description is as clear as can be

You do this so that only those with the skills and experience you need will apply for the position.

Yet you also need to be careful that the description isn’t so exacting that candidates who fit most of the criteria still apply and aren’t scared off. After all, it’s rare that anyone has all the requirements of a position; many people can be easily trained and/or upskilled quickly.

For example, if someone has five years of increasingly sophisticated accounting experience, do they truly need a bachelor’s degree? Probably not.

However, where you really do need certain skills or qualifications, be specific. When you need someone with three years’ experience in financial statements, for instance, say so.

Hire for hard and soft skills

No bookkeeper, no accountant, no CPA is worth it if he or she has all the skills you seek but is disagreeable to be around.

Working with someone like that – whether as a boss, an equal colleague or even as a member of your finance team – is a recipe for sheer misery.

Make sure the person is reasonably easy to get along with, isn’t averse to working with others, is happy to go the extra mile every now and then (particularly important around tax time), and so on.

So how does one really find and hire great accounting professionals?

By working with an accounting/finance staffing and recruiting such as Helpmates, you can cut down on the time it takes you to find someone. You’ll also have considerable peace of mind knowing that candidates have been thoroughly vetted in skills and knowledge and that references have been checked.

In addition, we understand the Southern California finance/accounting/bookkeeping employment market as if it’s our job…because it is! For direct-hire positions, we have an extensive network of already-vetted, talented professionals who aren’t necessarily looking for work but are open to the right opportunity.

In other words, just as we recommend that you keep your talent pipeline filled, we do so as a matter of course.

And that means we can place a contract professional at your worksite quickly and/or have you interviewing great direct-hire candidates in just a day or two.

Contact the Helpmates branch nearest you for more information.

E-mailing Passive Candidates in the Age of AI

If you’re a recruiter trying to catch the attention of a passive job candidate, you may feel like Sisyphus of ancient Greek mythology – the man who was doomed to forever push a large rock up a hill, only to have it roll back down again.

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In other words, you may feel that it’s an exercise in futility. And – no doubt about it – catching the eye of passive job candidates is tough: they are inundated with emails of all types. Yours is simply one more that clutters up their inbox, especially if they don’t have any interest in leaving their current place of employment.

But don’t give up hope. All is not lost. You can get their attention. It’s all in the approach.

  • Out with the old, in with the new

If you have email templates that you have been using for years, now is the time to get rid of them. They are most likely outdated and do not address the concerns and attitudes that passive candidates have today.

  • Be honest and sincere

Try to put yourself in the place of the candidate. What kind of approach would you appreciate the most? It probably is one that is simple, clear, and direct.

You want the email to be professional, but not too stiff or formal. Nor do you want to be overly familiar, avoiding a back-slapping kind of approach. A straightforward, authentic approach works best. You don’t want to use any gimmicks or any kind of sales pitch. Avoid redundancy or filler. Each line should carry its weight in getting the message across.

Read the email aloud. This really helps you to get an idea of how it sounds and the impression it makes.

  • Double check for errors

The email needs to show professionalism. Check for any spelling or grammatical mistakes. Don’t use abbreviations. Check to make sure you have spelled the candidate’s name correctly.

  • Be specific

Let the person know what they have to gain from reading the email. Avoid any vague language or descriptions. Writing something like “this is a great opportunity” really doesn’t tell the person about the job. It is better to explain what makes the job worth their interest and what it has to offer, such as salary and benefits.

While you do want to put some details in the email, you also need to be careful that you don’t make it too long. It should be short and to the point, with only the most relevant information – who you are, what the job is, and why you are contacting the person. Include the title of the job and the next step for the person to take if they’re interested.

  • Do your research

You are much more likely to get a response if you contact a person about a job that fits their particular skills and experience. To ensure a job is applicable, however, you need to do some research on their background first on social media sites or professional networks.

  • Write and rewrite

Writing well takes work and time. To make your email compelling, you should first write a rough draft and then rewrite it a few times to get it just right. Quality is more important than quantity.

  • Make sure they know you’re human

We have to admit, we found this great tip in an article we read recently and unfortunately we can’t find it now. The recruiter/author said she had great success with her emails to passive candidates when she wrote in the subject line: I am a person, not a bot and I have a career opportunity that might suit you.

This approach worked for her, she said, because too many people receive to many AI-generated emails and automatically delete them. Beat the bots at their own game and declare your humanity!

We know where the good candidates hang out! Reach out to the recruiters at the Helpmates branch nearest you to learn more about our staffing services.

Helping Your Employees with Their Back-to-School Blues

Back to school is here! Children abandon playgrounds, the beach and video games and return to the classroom. It’s a big change not just for kids but for working parents as well, requiring parents to adjust their schedules for things such as taking children to school, attending parent-teacher meetings, school open houses, sporting events, and other extracurricular activities, as well as volunteering to help out with school-related activities.

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Both parents work in about two-thirds of all households with children, and they spend more time caring for their children than earlier generations.  In a survey of 1,000 working parents, 85 percent said they were surprised by the challenges that arose when their kids returned to school, with the challenge cited by most parents as being home when their children returned from school. Other concerns included attending school activities and meeting other parents.

It’s no surprise that stress levels for parents jump when kids return to school. What makes matters even worse is that there is little allowance made by employers to help parents through this more hectic period, as surveys have shown. But there are things employers can do to assist their workers in handling the return to school, not only helping workers but themselves as well — accommodating employees helps with morale and retention.

Flexibility

One of the primary ways employers can help is by putting flexible scheduling practices in place. For many parents, flexible scheduling isn’t just something that is nice to have, but essential for them to maintain a good work-life balance, to meet their obligations to both their work and family. Flexible schedules help both employers as well as employees.

For example, flexible scheduling and allowing an employee to work remotely would enable a parent to leave work early to attend a conference with a teacher and then finish a project at home afterward.

But for flexible scheduling to work well, it requires good communication between managers and employees as workers’ schedules change depending on school events or other obligations.

Scheduling Work Events

Another way employers can accommodate parents of school-age children is by planning work events during the day, rather than after work. For example, social events such as employee happy hours, team dinners or workshops can be scheduled earlier in the day to allow parents time to pick up children from school or other school-related activities.

Instead of beginning happy hour at 5:00, companies can start at 4:00, team dinners can become team lunches, and workshops can end a little earlier.

A Culture That Values Work-Life Balance

Enabling all workers to have a healthy work-life balance is important. It helps with employee morale, productivity, and retention, and so should be a part of the company culture. Companies need to show they value a good work-life balance by incorporating events for employees and their families as part of the company operations, for example, with company picnics or holiday parties.

Communication and Feedback

To determine the effectiveness of flexible scheduling, supervisors need to solicit ongoing feedback from workers. To do this, the company can send out short surveys to employees, allowing them to respond anonymously with comments and suggestions.

Company leaders can also lend their support by showing they recognize the challenges parents face. Managers can do this through emails, even discussing how they handle the demands of parenting and school.

Need someone to come in for even just a couple of hours one or two days a week in order to help a working parent attend a school function, or stay home with a sick child? Contact the Helpmates branch nearest you, let us know the skills you need and we’ll send you a talented temporary associate!

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