What the Jobs Report Says About Your Compensation Package

By Robert Half November 2, 2016 at 1:00pm

If you manage a financial team, you need to take a closer look at your compensation packages. The third-quarter jobs report just released from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) continues to show a shortage of skilled candidates in the job market, with unemployment for finance and accounting professionals far lower than the 5.0 percent national unemployment rate.

Specifically, the BLS report shows that accounting and finance roles with the highest hiring demand and lowest unemployment rates in the third quarter of 2016 include the following:

  • Budget analysts, 0.5 percent
  • Compliance officers, 1.0 percent
  • Billing and posting clerks, 1.4 percent
  • Financial managers, 1.8 percent
  • Accountants and auditors, 2.4 percent
  • Financial analysts, 2.9 percent

See more in-demand accounting and finance roles with their third-quarter unemployment rates, below.  

These figures, along with the increase in job creation, help to underscore the hiring challenges ahead for managers like you. Candidates may pass over your job listing or your offer if they can get a better compensation package elsewhere.

If you expect to hire the best and brightest, it’s essential your company’s salary levels are equal to or exceed those of your competitors. So where do you begin? Here are nine tips for developing a solid compensation package:

1. Stay salary-savvy

Take this opportunity to research and update salary ranges so they reflect current market trends. Make sure your compensation package is line with competitors so they aren’t wooing away your top talent. But also be careful not to exceed the salary range you set. Employees could become disgruntled if they learn a new hire is making significantly more than those who have put in years at the company.  

How do your salary ranges compare with those offered by other companies in your region? Use our Salary Calculator to find out.

2. Stay benefits-savvy, too

For some, especially those supporting a family, the benefits your company offers could be the deciding factor.

DeLynn Senna


An attractive compensation package includes such ingredients as bonuses, 401K matching contributions, health and life insurance, and other benefits, like reimbursement for continuing education. These are important to job candidates, because they offset how much employees can expect to pay out of pocket for healthcare and saving for retirement. For some, especially those supporting a family, the benefits your company offers could be the deciding factor.

3. Don’t wait too long to increase compensation

Your compensation package should evolve with your employees to maintain a fair and equitable environment across your staff. It’s not something that should be looked at only when a new employee comes on board. Embrace a philosophy that provides a clear metric for raises and bonuses that are tied to qualitative goals.

Read Paying the Price for Waiting Too Long to Increase Compensation.

4. Communicate your strategy

A documented employee compensation strategy will provide consistency for employees and also inform managers, who are on the front line of receiving questions about pay decisions. You’ll be glad to have an up-to-date reference when you face your next job opening — or an employee asking for a raise. While individual salaries remain private, you want your employees to understand there is logic and fairness to your system.

5. Be prepared

Know what you’re able to pay, and how flexible you can be, before you start interviewing potential employees.

DeLynn Senna


Expect candidates to want to talk money — after all, it’s their livelihood. Know what you’re able to pay, and how flexible you can be, before you start interviewing potential employees. That will save time for both of you if you can’t come to a mutually agreeable compensation package. If someone seems hesitant to accept a job offer despite your willingness to negotiate, it may be time to step back.

6. Play ball

Job candidates typically have the upper hand today when it comes to the hiring market. Be ready to offer additional perks to supplement what you can pay. The promise of a healthy work-life balance with flexible hours and more vacation time, gym memberships, opportunities for advancement and a well-stocked kitchen, for example, might seal the deal, especially if the candidates know such a compensation package can’t be replicated with another employer.

7. Be willing to negotiate

Entering the discussion knowing your limits not only will make it easier for you but will show a job candidate you have a consistent and objective process in place for employee compensation that will ensure fair treatment in the future. At the same time, be flexible within your limits to account for an individual’s experience, education and potential.

Read Master the Art of Salary Negotiation, Then Make an Offer.

8. Don’t drag your feet

You don’t want to be reckless, but you want to act quickly. Candidates often receive multiple job offers. And according to this Robert Half survey, 39 percent of candidates will abandon a lengthy hiring process.

9. Know when to call it

Don’t get so carried away with negotiating that you lose sight of your company’s needs — and budget. How easy or difficult will it be to fill this particular position? How essential is the position to your company’s mission? Sometimes you have to let a great candidate go. But do so in a respectful manner. You never know when you might cross paths again in the future. 

An attractive compensation package is key to recruiting finance and accounting employees with in-demand skills. But what’s competitive today isn’t competitive forever. Employee compensation needs to be continually revisited so you’re not seeing your top performers hired away.

Determine accounting and finance salary figures for more than 400 positions, and get your own copy of the Salary Guide.


Visit the Salary Center


Unemployment rates for Q3 2016


DeLynn Senna​DeLynn Senna, CPA, is the executive director of Robert Half Finance & Accounting, the world's first and largest specialized financial recruitment service. In her role, she leads Robert Half Finance & Accounting’s global operations, including defining brand positioning, working with executive and field leadership across five continents to develop growth strategies and operating processes, and to shape and promote the company’s vision internally and externally.

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