When managers encounter workload peaks or require specialized skills or backup support, they often turn to temporary accounting and finance professionals. But they’re also showing something else: a preference for temp-to-hire arrangements where they can evaluate potential hires before making them full-time staff.
Those are the findings of the latest Benchmarking the Accounting & Finance Function report from Robert Half and the Financial Executives Research Foundation (FERF).
More than one-quarter of U.S. firms use temporary or project professionals in their accounting and finance functions — most in accounts payable, accounts receivable and general accounting positions. Many businesses also tap temporary workers to assist with payroll and tax.
The report also shows larger organizations tend to rely more heavily on temporary or project professionals than smaller firms do. But smaller firms show a larger percentage of their teams represented by temps.
Time to bring in accounting temps
For some companies, business is booming so quickly that staff can't keep up. The accounting and finance staff is feeling stressed, overtime is up, morale is down, and new business may be heading in the same direction — if something isn’t done.
For others, interim professionals have covered busy periods like tax season for them in the past. The next step is to evaluate those accounting temps for performance and fit within the company with the intention of transitioning them to the next full-time job opening.
If either of those scenarios is yours, you need a good hiring strategy to direct short-term support to long-term success.
Here are three steps to create a temp-to-hire strategy.
1. Talk with a recruiter
A good relationship with a staffing agency is crucial. Let the recruiter know upfront that the assignment has the potential to become a full-time position, and clearly explain the responsibilities of the job. That way, the recruiter can be on the lookout for candidates who have the right accounting skills and experience for the long-term.
Also, job seekers filling a temp-to-hire role must be able to commit to a full-time position, should the opportunity arise. Your recruiter can vet potential hires easily in that regard.
2. Set expectations upfront
One of the main advantages of a temp-to-hire arrangement is that it allows you to evaluate potential full-time employees over a far longer period than is possible during a job interview. But to do that properly, you must have a strong sense of the duties and responsibilities of the job you’re hoping to fill.
One of the best ways to do that is to write an effective job description before you bring the temporary professional on board, and go over it on the first day. Then stick with it, and avoid the temptation to just give the interim worker whatever assignment needs doing. You want to make sure you can accurately evaluate how well the person can fill the permanent position.
3. Be ready to move forward
Top candidates may be courted by other companies, so it’s best to be ready to make your move as soon as you decide that you want to transition an accounting temp into a full-time position. The last thing you want is to have an ideal candidate snatched up by a quicker-moving competitor.
Talk to your recruiter at the beginning of the assignment to find out what steps you need to take to extend a full-time offer, if you decide to do so. Your recruiter can also make sure you're offering a competitive salary and benefits package, using a resource such as Robert Half’s Salary Center.
Temp-to-hire assignments can be an effective way to add new accounting professionals to your team. Not only can you be assured they have the skills you need but that they fit in with your workplace and flourish at the job.
A little preparation can go a long way when you apply this strategy to find your best new hires — right in front of you.
Editor's note: This post was updated recently to reflect current information.