Accounting and finance managers who plan to add staff should be aware of how important it is to speed up their time to hire. Low unemployment creates a competitive market for the best talent, and high demand and low supply can take a toll on the hiring process.
When the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics released its most recent report, it included many accounting and finance roles and industries with unemployment rates far below the overall national rate.
That comes on the heels of a Robert Half Finance & Accounting survey of CFOs who said it takes them, on average, four weeks of time to hire an accounting or finance professional. For a management-level position, the wait time is even longer: five weeks.
For more survey data, see this infographic, Are You Taking Too Long to Hire?
Consequences of prolonged waiting
Employers who make their candidates sit tight for too long risk losing them to other, faster-moving companies. These other companies may even include your competitors.
In Robert Half's survey, almost six in 10 workers (57 percent) said the most frustrating part of the job search is the long wait after an interview to hear if they got the job. Nearly one-quarter (23 percent) said they lose interest in the firm if they don't hear back within one week after the initial interview; another 46 percent lose interest if there's no status update from one-to-two weeks post-interview.
How can you accelerate your time to hire?
Hiring is one of the most important decisions a company makes, but the clock is ticking fast. How do you tighten the timelines between the initial interview and the job offer and still properly vet accounting and finance applicants?
Consider these seven steps to making timely decisions and secure the candidate you want to hire.
1. Make a list of skilled candidates
Odds are, you still have a list of people who’ve applied with your department before and didn’t make the final cut but were a good fit for your company. That’s nice but may not represent your most current prospects. Keep that list up to date as you get referrals for accounting talent from your networks and employees.
2. Update your finance job descriptions
Make sure you have strong, thorough job descriptions that accurately capture the essence of your accounting and finance jobs. They should include a statement of key responsibilities, and the skill sets you need. Will candidates be required to develop and monitor data quality metrics, for example, or should they be able to review the adequacy of systems and testing to verify the accuracy of data provided? Does the job entail ensuring compliance with current government regulations? Be as specific as possible, without making your description too long. And don’t forget interpersonal abilities, such as multitasking, analytical and problem-solving skills, and the ability to work well in teams and independently.
3. Enlist your team’s input and help
Another way to shorten the time to hire? Your most senior staff members can save you precious time by helping update the duties and requirements of the job opening you’ll include with the job description, and they can also help with processing applications and screening resumes when they start coming in. Discuss with them the skills that are “must haves” and “nice to haves” for various positions so it’s easier for them to flag the right people for you when the time comes.
4. Get to know what other firms are paying
To recruit and retain the best people, more employers are willing to negotiate compensation, Robert Half research shows. But to succeed, hiring managers need to stay up to date on the most current pay rates for these professionals and not lengthen the time to hire. Prepare by making sure your compensation rates are in line with those of your competitors.
Find salary data for more than 400 positions in Robert Half’s Salary Guide for Accounting and Finance.
5. Evaluate your interview process
After you’ve narrowed the candidate pool based on your evaluation of resumes, it’s time to conduct interviews. You should make sure your interview process is both efficient and productive. Can you cut down or combine any rounds of interviews and stages of approval? In a tight labor market, with skilled candidates commonly receiving multiple job offers, you could lose your top choices with too many steps. Be sure to perfect your technique for closing an interview.
6. Work with a recruiting firm
You can augment your efforts by getting outside help from a staffing agency that specializes in the finance and accounting industry. The leading recruiters know the current employment trends and have large networks of skilled professionals to meet your hiring needs. They can help you locate finance and accounting professionals who are best suited to your workplace culture. These firms also often provide online resources with tips to help you get the most out of all of your employees.
Discover more about the benefits of working with our recruiters.
7. Offer a strong compensation package
Once you determine your top-choice candidate, offer an attractive package of salary, benefits and perks. The better the candidate, the more likely you need to be ready for salary negotiation. Decide beforehand the upper limit of what you can offer. Also don’t forget that money isn’t the only factor people consider when choosing a job. If you’ve asked the right questions during the interview, you’ll know what matters most to the professionals you’re recruiting — flexible hours, extra vacation time, tuition reimbursement and the opportunity to work remotely, for example. Be creative with perks and incentives.
Companies that understand the hiring process — and the need to do it right — will have an advantage in today’s labor market. Organization and planning are key to your ability to get your offer out there in time to hire top candidates before your competition does.
Editor's note: This post was recently updated to reflect more current information.