Building a Winning Accounting Team From the Available Talent Pool

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If you're having trouble building an effective accounting department because you can't find candidates who have all the skills you're looking for, join the club. As businesses increasingly seek new employees with specialized skills, the talent pool of accounting and finance professionals has become overfished. Here are some ways you can land the most sought-after candidates:

Use better bait

Before you plan your recruiting campaign, identify the tangible and intangible factors that make your company an attractive employer. Tangible benefits include compensation, bonuses, retirement packages, healthcare coverage and employee perks such as free dry cleaning or subsidized gym memberships. Intangible benefits include generous leave policies, clear paths to promotion and professional development.

To stand out and attract the top swimmers from the available talent pool, you need to offer a compensation and incentives package that goes beyond what competing firms typically provide. Among the most popular benefits are those that provide opportunities for career growth — for example, mentoring or employer-subsidized tuition for advanced education or certification programs.

Evaluate the benefits and perks you offer from the potential hire's perspective: How well does the compensation package reflect the needs and desires of your target talent pool? How enticing would you find these incentives if you were the ideal candidate?

One way to keep pace is to consult the annual Salary Guide from Robert Half, which provides starting salary ranges for more than 350 accounting and finance positions. The guide is updated each year and includes insight into emerging compensation trends.

Expand your search

If the available talent pool holds plenty of willing candidates, but they all seem to lack the expertise you're looking for, you may need to dive deeper. For example, you might focus your efforts on highly skilled accounting and finance professionals who are retired or semiretired. Many of these individuals are rejoining the workforce on a part-time or consulting basis to remain professionally engaged and secure a source of income.

Also ask your professional network for recommendations. This can be an effective way of learning about passive job candidates, or professionals who are currently employed but open to switching jobs for the right opportunity.

In some cases, you may find that the local talent pool is simply too shallow for your needs. Hiring trends differ from market to market, and the accounting professionals you seek may be in short supply in your city or region of the United States. Look beyond your local limits and consider candidates from outside the area. Just remember that you may need to offer additional compensation or relocation assistance to convince in-demand professionals to make the move.

Enlist the help of a trusted adviser

Keep in mind that not every hire needs to be full time. An increasing number of skilled professionals are working on a temporary basis, and bringing in interim help could be the solution to your staffing needs. Supplementing your core team of full-time workers with temporary help can keep your human resources costs flexible and give your staff the boost they need to hit key deadlines.

Sourcing temporary accounting professionals through a staffing firm can save you time and hassle. The staffing firm will evaluate each candidate's work history, meet the person for a face-to-face interview, conduct skills evaluations and perform select reference checks. The agency also will handle the administrative details of hiring a temporary worker, such as verifying the professional's employment eligibility and processing payroll.

Even if you're in a rush to staff a position, don't settle for a second-tier hire. A bad hire may cost your business more than you realize. Use the tips above to help you find your ideal candidate, no matter how deep or shallow the talent pool is.