What Finance Positions Are the Most Difficult to Staff?

By Robert Half January 3, 2017 at 8:00pm

You’re looking for a senior financial analyst for your midsize company in Denver. Five years ago, you were able to hire someone with five years of experience for less than $75,000. But in the year to come? It will be a lot harder to find top talent in accounting and finance positions — especially in cities with the greatest hiring challenges and in companies that haven’t bumped up their salary offers.

“The talent pool has gotten tighter, and the expectations from job candidates have gone up, too,” says Luv Mirani, senior vice president at Robert Half Financial & Accounting. “I’ve told managers they may need to increase their salary budgets to mirror what the market shows.”

What does the hiring market look like?

In a Robert Half survey, 62 percent of CFOs reported difficulty staffing professional-level positions. More than a third of the respondents (35 percent) said finding skilled talent for accounting and finance jobs is one of the greatest challenges faced by management.

How hard is hiring in your city?

The survey shows that recruiting difficulties have heated up in major U.S. cities, with cities like Phoenix, Cincinnati and Denver reporting the greatest challenges. Boston and San Francisco are among those cities with significant challenges. Executives in Atlanta, where Mirani is based, report notable challenges in hiring accounting and financial professionals.

See a map that shows where recruiting challenges are heating up, below.

What are the toughest finance positions to staff?

Companies are looking for financial professionals with well-rounded skill sets — both technical and nontechnical, Mirani says. According to the survey, these three accounting and finance roles are hardest to staff nationally:

  • Controller
  • Financial analyst
  • Senior accountant

What should employers do to attract job seekers?

Accelerate, to put it simply. “Scrutinize applicants so you don’t make a bad hire," Mirani says, "but operate with a sense of urgency, and don’t think there will be better applicants around the corner.”

He compares the financial hiring market to a housing market with a short supply of real estate. “When you find the house you want, and there are several bidders, it won’t be on the market in the next week or two. You’d better examine what you’re offering and just how much you want that house.”

Another consideration is that unemployment rates for many accounting and financial positions remain below the national average, he says.

Is there any other hiring advice?

“I have a quote at the end of my signature that says, ‘Empty seats create low morale,’ Mirani says. “It’s a quick reminder to management that you need to understand the market and the intensity of competition for top performers in accounting and finance, or the job opening will affect your whole staff.”

He suggests managers work to explore other ways they can attract top finance candidates to take their next career steps at their companies. Here are more of his words of wisdom:

  • Show them the money

“The first step is to consult resources such as the Salary Guide to benchmark compensation trends for the finance job you need to staff and the area you’re in. If you’re offering to pay market rates or below, then you may have a hard time getting a return on that call.”

Download the 2018 Robert Half Salary Guide for information on hiring and salaries for more than 190 positions.

  • Accommodate lifestyle needs

“Comcast offers free cable to employees; Pulte Homes offers discounts on homes for their employees. That’s going to help attract talent. If you’re not able to pay above market for compensation, perhaps you have some benefits you can give your employees and their families.”

  • Offer career path opportunities

“What skills and certifications do you need for your finance position, and what can be learned on the job? That’s something for management to consider during the hiring process, and if you can present training and professional development opportunities during the interview, it might be appealing to job seekers.”

  • Get some outside help

You should look at your recruiter as an employment expert, not merely a conduit to send you resumes. That’s the value in a specialized staffing firm, which can help you identify and recruit the talent you’re looking for, streamlining your hiring process and adding invaluable market intelligence and career resources.”

Work with us to meet your hiring objectives.

Luv Mirani
Luv Mirani

Luv Mirani is senior vice president for Robert Half Finance & Accounting. He serves as director of permanent services in Atlanta, leading a team of recruiting managers that consistently ranks among the highest in the company. He formerly worked as an audit associate for a Big 4 firm and has his degree in economics and finance from Emory University.

Map of cities where hiring is hardest

Editor's note: This post was updated recently to reflect current information.

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