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.

Getting the New Normal Right for Your Workers

Things have started a (slow) return to “normalcy” here in California as Governor Newsom okayed a slow re-opening of the state’s economy on May 8.

Garden Grove staffing

The fact is, more and more businesses soon will start to bring workers back to work and as the state’s economy very slowly reopens, your workers are going to need to get used to a new normal in the workplace:

  • Some will work from home full time.
  • Others will work from home part time.
  • Workers you need in an office or to work on-site may find that they have their schedules staggered.
  • Employers may need different policies for employees considered to be at higher risk of contracting the virus.
  • And so on.

Considerations for employers starting to reopen

First, understand that guidelines and even requirements may have changed by the time you read this. That said, here are some things experts (employment law attorneys, for example) believe employers may need to consider not only as they start to reopen for business, but also as additional restrictions are lifted over the coming months.

  • Employers may have to open in “phases.”

The CDC and the White House have recommended that the country reopen in phases (for example, golf courses and other outdoor venues first, retailers with curbside delivery next, gyms much later).

Yet employers also may want to get ready for opening in phases. That is: following government guidelines, employers may need to “open their individual business in phases by staggering the timeline for returning employees to work.” The idea is that employers need to “consider” which positions are most essential and start with those. Employers would need to orient on-site employees in Covid-19 safe workplace practices so that they can work at the employer’s location(s) as safely as possible.

  • Employers should plan for how they are going to deal with employees’ fears of returning to work.

While many laid off and furloughed workers may be thrilled at the opportunity to work again, others may not. In fact, some workers may be too afraid to return to work in the early stages of re-opening and employers may need to consult with their attorney regarding how to handle these employees.

In addition, many employers may be able to offer only part-time work, which could have an adverse impact on employees’ desire to return, especially if they were laid off and collecting unemployment insurance. Again, a chat with an employment law attorney may be in order.

  • As they craft a re-opening plan, employers will need to give special consideration of those workers considered at “high risk” of either contracting the virus or of developing severe symptoms if they do contract the coronavirus.

As mentioned above, employers may want to consult an attorney regarding risks and liabilities regarding whether to bring such employees back to work and what they will do if they require employees to return and what then happens if one or more high-risk employees is reluctant to do so. Employers’ actions will need to be balanced against the potential of violating the Americans with Disabilities Act and other anti-discrimination laws (such as age discrimination as individuals at higher risk of severe symptoms tend to be people age 65 and older).

  • Employers may have to reconfigure their site’s physical layout.

Social distancing guidelines will need to be followed during re-opening for the foreseeable future and so employers may need to reconfigure workspaces. Employers also may want to reconsider having employees gather in large(ish) groups, such as in cafeterias/lunch rooms and conference rooms. If so, employers will still need to provide workers with sanitary places to have lunch and take breaks.

Additional strategies employers may want or need to consider include:

  • Requiring that employees wear face masks when around others.
  • Placing signs throughout the workplace that remind employees and customers to practice social distancing, especially in hallways, offices, lobbies, etc.
  • Ensuring that workers practice social distance during shift changes.
  • Establish a maximum capacity for public and employee restrooms.
  • Consider modifying frequently touched objects, such as installing touchless water faucets in restrooms and foot pedals to open doors.
  • Holding fewer in-person meetings.
  • Creating or revising “crowd” plans, such as setting a maximum number of workers and visitors that may be on-site at any one time.
  • And more.

We anticipate California’s re-opening to be something of a “learn as we go along” experience, with employers and workers – and the government – guiding each other as we move back to some normality. We therefore urge all of us – employers and their employees – to move carefully and with great consideration and understanding.

Helpmates can help employers navigate their reopening as we diligently work to stay on top of Covid-19 safe practices. We also ensure our specialists receive orientation on these practices before they head out on assignment and update them immediately as changes occur.

Contact the Helpmates branch nearest you or reach out to Rosalie Villa, CSP, our chief revenue officer, for more information on our Covid-19 safe practices orientation at rvilla@helpmates.com.

For the 11th Time in a Row, Helpmates Is Named to the Best of Staffing® Awards

Let’s imagine that the Dodgers or the Angels won the World Series 11 times in a row. (Imagine!!!) Would we be “ANOTHER World Series? Ho-hum”?

Los Angeles staffing agency

Heck no!!!

And so we’re beyond thrilled that Helpmates has AGAIN – and for the 11th straight year – been named to ClearlyRated’s Best of Staffing® Client and Talent Diamond Awards!!!

Helpmates has earned ClearlyRated’s Best of Staffing® Client and Talent Diamond Awards for 2020. (ClearlyRated formerly was known as Inavero.)

We earned the Diamond Awards in both the Talent and Client categories after winning the Best of Staffing® award in each at least five years in a row. Participating staffing firms are rated by both their clients and their candidates (talent). On average, clients of winning staffing agencies are 3.3 times more likely to be completely satisfied with the agency’s services and candidates who have been placed by winning agencies are 1.7 times more likely to be completely satisfied compared to those working with non-winning agencies.

Some Best of Staffing® 2020 statistics of which we are particularly proud include:

  • We received satisfaction scores of 9 or 10 out of 10 from 76 percent of our clients, significantly higher than the industry’s average of 24 percent.
  • We received satisfaction scores of 9 or 10 out of 10 from 79.1 percent of our placed job candidates, significantly higher than the industry’s average of 45 percent.

We’re also excited about our Net Promoter Scores (NPS), customer metrics that measure the loyalty between a provider (Helpmates) and its customers (our clients and candidates/talent).

  • Our 2020 NPS score was 75 percent from our clients (FAR above the industry’s average of -2 percent in 2019.
  • Our 2020 NPS score from our candidates was 67.3 percent (also far above the staffing industry’ average of just 24 percent in 2018.

Helpmates won in four areas:

  • Client Satisfaction Award (11th year in a row)
  • Talent Satisfaction Award (9th year in a row)
  • The Best of Staffing Client Diamond Award (6th year in a row)
  • The Best of Staffing Talent Diamond Award (4th year in a row)

We wouldn’t have earned this award for the 11th time without the dedication and hard work of our internal team members as well as the associates who work at our client’s offices.  We are humbled that you choose to work with us and awed by your efforts to provide the best in service to our clients.

 

Busting Freelancer Myths

Do you think freelancers/independent contractors are good just for “quick fix” projects? You may want to think again because these types of professionals can be a great way to take advantage of their skills without committing to them full time. What’s more, it’s not true that any freelancer worth his or her hourly fee wouldn’t consider a longer-term freelance position: freelancing can be up and down income-wise and having a long-term project with a steady paycheck can be very attractive.

In addition, as the independent contractor works with you, you no doubt trained him in your processes and procedures. Why lose all that “cultural knowledge” after just a few weeks when chances are good that his skills could be used elsewhere, on another project and/or in another department?

Orange County temp firm

That’s just one myth. Take a look below for three additional freelancer/independent contractor myths and then watch how we bust each of them, below.

  1. Independent contractors aren’t for the important stuff. They’re there to take some of the strain off regular employees so that regular staff can do the “mission critical” work.

Hello!  Independent contractors may have high-level skills that are better than your current employees! After all, they have to stay on top of new technologies and strategies – their very livelihood depends on it!

  1. Independent contractors are lazy: they freelance so they can take afternoons off and go to the beach.

You know it and we know it: working as an hourly or salaried employee means you often don’t work hard. You get paid when you’re sick, when you take a vacation, when you decide you’re “just not feeling it” today, so you don’t give it your all on the task at hand and you know you still will be paid the same.

An independent contractor? If he doesn’t produce what his client wants, he doesn’t get paid. He isn’t paid to attend meetings (unless he builds that time into his hourly rate). He doesn’t take vacations (unless he works double time for more than a week before in order to get all of his deliverables….delivered).

What’s more, chances are great that a freelancer can do more in an hour than a regular employee can. Because he often has to.

So this idea that you bring in an independent-contractor for busy work? Chances are great that your employees already are overwhelmed and can’t handle their usual workload. A freelancer – after just a few days in training in “how you do things here” – has a very good chance of becoming instrumental in completing an important project or meeting a critical deadline.

  1. Freelancers will charge far too much for a project.

Yes, they will charge an hourly rate higher than what you pay your employees who perform the same tasks. That’s because the independent contractor probably doesn’t work a total of eight hours a day on billable work: there’s self-marketing to do, administrative work, invoicing, etc. It’s all work, but it’s not something for which he can invoice you. He only charges for the time it takes him to actually work on your project, not for his business’ administrative tasks.

What’s more, he’s responsible for his healthcare, the full amount of Social Security taxes, purchasing equipment, and other office necessities, etc. You, happily, are not.

Still…..

As terrific as independent contractors are, they do come with special rules of engagement: you can’t force them to work on your project where you want (in your office) and when you want (between 2-5 p.m., for example). Do so and you’re headed down the sticky-wicket trail toward a lawsuit from the independent contractor claiming you controlled him as an employee but you didn’t treat him like an employee (hello, benefits and PTO!)

So if you’ve thought of bringing in an independent contractor or two and are worried about what you can and can’t do with a freelancer, consider the alternative, a temporary specialist from Helpmates with the same skills.

Contact the office nearest you and tell us the skills and background you need for your project. We look forward to hearing from you!

 

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