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.

Buena Park staffing

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.

Boosting Employee Productivity and Morale

Employers need happy and productive workers. Yet if employees don’t have autonomy, the freedom to make mistakes, learning and growth opportunities, a sense of mission, etc., morale and productivity often plummets.

Two Sides of the Improved Productivity Coin

Cypress staffing

This post offers productivity tips. Yet, in addition to tips on what to do, we’re also going to offer tips on what not to do because positive morale and high  productivity often are results of the “don’t” as much as it is of the “do.”

What Not to Do

  • Stop skipping breaks.

We know how it is: your workers are on a roll, they have “just” an hour or two left on this project and even though they’ve been working on it for two hours already, they’re loathe to take a break because they worried they’ll “lose momentum.”

Make sure they take the break! It’s not true that momentum trumps rest. Instead, even just “stand up and walk around” breaks help our brains relax and rejuvenate and “improve focus.” Try it yourself. You’ll be amazed at how new ideas pop into your head when you resume the task and how much energy you’ve regained.

  • Stop with the meetings! (So MANY meetings!)

Researchers at UNC Charlotte found that executives (in this research) spend up to as much as 23 hours a week in meetings. How much deliverable work or “output” actually gets DONE in meetings? We believe pretty much none. Instead, encourage walk-and-talk meetings. Not only will meeting-goers get a bit of a break from sitting, but meetings will be much shorter and ideas may flow as a result of the short exercise session.

  • One word: stop!

Many of us believe we do well – if not very well – on tasks we do at the same time. This is a myth. In fact, multitasking, according to Stanford University professor Clifford Nass (a multitasking expert), instead produces people with low attention spans.

  • Stop aiming for the perfect.

Good enough is…good enough! Perfectionists tend to have lower productivity. Instead, help your employees embrace the “good enough.” Note that we’re not talking “Ok” or “so-so.” We mean “good,” just not “perfect.”

  • Email can wait; stop checking it constantly.

Checking email more than three times a day makes us less productive. It can wait. If necessary, encourage your workers to let people know that they check email at set times each day and only then. (Doing so lets people emailing them know why replies aren’t instant.)

What to Do

  • Help your employees learn to relax…after work.

People who constantly think about work after work never really are away from work. Which makes it pretty much impossible to relax after work hours.

You can help your workers relax after hours by helping them create a “closing down” process every time they get ready to leave the office. Do so and don’t be surprised if productivity at work increases because they’ve been able to truly decompress once they leave for home.

  • Encourage employees to take short “exercise” breaks.

And what we mean by exercise is a walk around the block (or three), some stretching for a few minutes, perhaps some deep knee bends at their desk or even some pushups. Short exercise bursts are proven to rejuvenate people and help them focus. In fact, you might consider allowing employees to exercise on the clock for at least 30 minutes a day for terrific results.

  • Help your employees work in chunks of no more than 90-minutes at a time.

Florida State University researchers found that those who do so tend to be more productive than those who work in intervals of 90 minutes or more.

  • Encourage employees to minimize interruptions.

Concentrated work takes….concentration, and having a friendly colleague pop by for a quick chat can ruin that focus. So make it Ok for employees to shut an office door, make offices available for cube-farm workers who need some quiet time, etc.

Are your employees overwhelmed with work and therefore finding it hard to get all that needs to get done done well? If so, you may need to bring on more people.

Helpmates can provide you workers for short-term assignments, long-term needs. Contact the branch office nearest you and speak to one of our recruiters.

 

 

 

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