Welcome to the latest post in Robert Half’s Thought Leader Q&A series, which features insights from those who have made our company a great place to work and a premier provider of talent solutions.
This post features Michael Steinitz, senior executive director at Robert Half. Michael joined Robert Half in 1996, specializing in the recruitment of accounting and finance professionals in New York City. Today, he’s based in the Washington, D.C., metropolitan area, and holds a multifaceted leadership role.
Michael oversees multiple practice groups, while providing operational vision. He explains, “I help define what the go-to-market strategy should be, what our business mix should look like, and the opportunities we should pursue within our industries of focus. I also actively share best practices across our organization, and I work with our team members in the field to help the business grow.”
He adds, “I help ensure our teams in the field are in sync with our teams working in our corporate offices, and that everything we do is consistent across the organization, from learning and development to marketing to communications.”
On top of that, Michael has an even more important (and challenging!) job: He’s the father of two teenage sons. A self-described extrovert, Michael loves working with people — and says the lack of in-person contact during the pandemic has been less than ideal. However, he also says he’s “amazed” at how well the company has adapted to meet new challenges during this time.
Here’s what else Michael shared — including his views on the post-pandemic workplace, what skill sets many employers are seeking, and why some people call him “George.”
How would you describe the current hiring market?
This is one of the most unique hiring markets I’ve ever seen. There are so many job openings, and the labor market is incredibly tight. Many companies that have been operating lean during the pandemic are seeing their business pick up significantly now, and they need to hire quickly. Businesses are reprioritizing projects they’ve had on the runway since the beginning of 2020, and many need contract talent with specialized skills to support those initiatives.
Meanwhile, as many employers are trying to expand their workforce, they’re also working harder than ever to retain valued talent. Many professionals, at all levels and across industries, are reevaluating their current work situations and wondering what options might be available. And once they’re actively in the job market, many top candidates quickly find they have multiple offers to consider.
Companies turn to Robert Half for recruiting help because they’re struggling to make headway on their own. Unemployment within the specialty areas we serve is historically low, and many candidates are holding out for opportunities that offer exactly what they’re looking for. In many cases, that’s higher compensation, plus the ability to work remotely, at least part of the time. Employers need help finding candidates and navigating these new expectations.
What types of skills are employers seeking in today’s candidates, generally?
Communication skills are incredibly important in today’s remote and hybrid work environments. Other kinds of soft skills, including the ability to adapt to change quickly and be a good team player and collaborator, are also highly sought by many employers.
As for technical skills — and I’ll speak about accounting specifically — we’re seeing many employers looking for candidates with strong technical skills, including analytical skills. Exposure to enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems like Oracle and SAP is often a plus because so many companies are using these systems. Also, strong Microsoft Excel skills are highly valued.
How do you envision the future of work in a post-pandemic world?
One thing is for sure: We’re not going back to life before the pandemic. If COVID-19 were to disappear completely tomorrow, we’d see corporate travel increasing, an uptick in events, on-site visits with clients picking up, and more people coming to the office. However, companies have become attuned to what can be achieved through hybrid and remote work — and they’ve realized these arrangements can be efficient and cost-effective for the business, and beneficial for their workers, too.
So, I expect many organizations will retain these flexible work models. And, as a result, I believe we’ll see companies focusing more on measuring their employees’ performance based on outcomes versus hours worked. Companies will also need to think more creatively about how to promote their corporate culture so they can keep teams engaged.
We’ll see more organizations hiring and promoting people to roles at the middle management level because they need a more hierarchical management structure to help support a remote or hybrid workforce. And all managers will need to create more touchpoints throughout the workday and workweek to make sure employees and teams are productive and feeling connected.
That will be a delicate balancing act — figuring out how often, when and for how long to meet, as people will still be juggling different priorities between the work and home front. In our new world of work, you have to be efficient with everyone’s time and consider what might be going on in their lives.
Are you finding that most companies intend to embrace a hybrid work model for the long term?
Yes, although whether a company decides to be hybrid or fully remote depends on the organization — and the types of roles and market, too. For example, we’re finding many firms prefer to have their entry-level hires or clerical-type staff working on-site. Employers also seem to be more flexible, generally, about remote work for employees who are in positions with more seniority.
How has the pandemic affected you professionally?
Initially, I was shocked to find out how productive my teams and I can be while working virtually. Even so, it’s been a challenging experience for an extrovert like me because I need to meet with people virtually all the time. One aspect I’ve always loved about my job is the energy that I get and give from being around others. I thrive on that, and I’ve been missing it. I’m looking forward to having that type of in-person interaction in my day-to-day work again soon.
Tell us a bit more about you, personally. What do you like to do when you’re not working?
Traveling, going out to dinner, being with friends — I enjoy having a social life! Many of those activities went away during the pandemic, but thankfully, they’re starting to come back.
I also like to attend sporting events, whether it’s watching one of my kid’s games with my family or road-tripping with an old friend to see a pro football game. I love watching football — and living here in D.C., I’m a huge fan of the Washington Football Team, of course.
So, what’s the story behind some people calling you “George?”
When I was a kid, I went to a summer camp for 13 straight summers. The first year of camp there were four Michaels in my bunkhouse, so our counselor renamed all of us. My name became “George,” and I was referred to as George so often that many people at camp didn’t know my real name!
I still have friends from my summer camp days, and they still call me George. In fact, a few years ago, a colleague in D.C. met with a client who knew me from camp and said, “Say ‘Hi!’ to George for me!” My colleague was, like, “Umm … OK?” When he came back to the office, he yelled, “Hey, George!” and, to his surprise, I immediately responded. So, I guess you can say “George” is my second identity.
Follow Michael Steinitz on LinkedIn.
Meet other Thought Leaders at Robert Half, such as Ash Athawale and Dawn Fay. And be sure to subscribe to the Robert Half newsletter for future installments of our Q&A series and to discover more unique stories, experiences and perspectives on the latest hiring trends.