6 Strategies to Stand Out as an Employer in a Tight Labor Market

Four people shaking hands in office

Talent shortages are the new normal in today’s saturated labor market, where unemployment rates are low and hiring competition is intense for accounting and finance professionals.

The latest report from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics on Unemployment Rates by Occupation for the first quarter of 2016 shows many accounting and finance roles have unemployment rates below the overall national rate of 5.0 percent.

  • Compliance officers: 0.3%
  • Chief executives (includes CFOs): 1.5%
  • Securities, commodities, and financial services sales agents: 1.7%
  • Billing and posting clerks: 2.2%
  • Bookkeeping, accounting, and auditing clerks: 2.2%
  • Financial analysts: 2.7%
  • Purchasing managers: 2.7%
  • Credit authorizers, checkers and clerks: 3.0%
  • Financial managers: 3.7%
  • Loan interviewers and clerks: 4.1%
  • Accountants and auditors: 4.1%

Great people may be in short supply, but savvy companies can still stand out.

DeLynn Senna


For public accountants, working for companies that provide accounting services, unemployment rates are well below the national average. The BLS reports a 3.1 percent unemployment rate for accounting, tax preparation, bookkeeping and payroll services.

With fewer job seekers in the labor market, dangling the carrot for skilled candidates becomes more challenging and competitive. Hiring takes longer, Robert Half’s research shows, as the smaller pool of candidates can afford to be selective with job offers.  

Learn more about The Demand for Skilled Talent in this age of unemployment: Download the Report.

Great people may be in short supply, but savvy companies can still stand out. The key is to develop hiring strategies to attract top talent for roles such as financial analysts, staff and senior accountants, payroll clerks, and compliance offers. Here are six ways employers can tip the scale in their favor to fill these specialized roles:

1. Write better job postings and descriptions

Give candidates a list of reasons why they would want to work at your company, from your company culture to your training programs. Write a clear job description that generates excitement about the opening and distinguishes between the skills you need and the skills you want.  

2. Offer more than a job

It’s not just money that attracts candidates. In a Robert Half Finance & Accounting survey, nearly two-thirds (64 percent) of financial professionals said the chance to gain new skills and professional development is a critical consideration when making a career move. Also show applicants why yours is a company where they can grow their careers and work toward a noble purpose.

3. Pay more

Still, salaries remain key, especially when candidates get multiple offers. You may need to revise your budgets to pay salaries that match or exceed current market values.

Read our Salary Guide for up-to-date salary ranges for more than 400 accounting and finance positions.

4. Reevaluate your company benefits

When research shows workers consider additional vacation days as their most coveted perk, consider it a sign that your company benefits can differentiate you in this market. Take a look at offering paid time off, flexible work arrangements, 401(k) packages, telecommuting policies, relocation packages, and anything else that might appeal to candidates.  

5. Don’t waste time

Companies that can speed up the hiring process — from processing applications to screening resumes, interviewing and making the job offer — will have a leg up on the competition.  

6. Work with a specialized recruiting firm

A specialized recruiting firm can help you identify and recruit the talent you are looking for with a streamlined process and market intelligence. In this tight labor market, you can use an expert’s help with your hiring process.

See what our clients have to say about their financial staffing experiences with Robert Half Finance & Accounting.


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​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.


Jobs report data for Q1 2016