How to Address a Talent Shortage and Attract the Best Candidates

It’s official: There’s a talent shortage. Fewer people with the specialized skills you need most want to work for you now. Sorry to break it to you like this.

A recent survey by Robert Half revealed that 63 percent of chief financial officers (CFOs) said it’s difficult to find skilled candidates for professional finance and accounting roles, with 16 percent describing this task as “very challenging” and 47 percent as “somewhat challenging.” These figures are much higher than those reported from a similar survey one year earlier, when 59 percent of CFOs said they found hiring top talent a challenge and only 5 percent said it was “very challenging.”

The unemployment rate among college graduates is roughly half that of the general population in many fields, which means it can be difficult to recruit skilled specialists. If you need highly skilled candidates for accounting and finance roles such as senior accountant or financial analyst, you’ll find that the projected salary increases for these roles in 2014 reflect the difficulty of recruiting top candidates. Be prepared to offer attractive salaries and benefits to compete in the market for professional candidates.

Competition for Candidates

More companies are looking for the same top candidates, too, which means you’ve got competition to recruit the best talent for your company in the midst of this talent shortage. 

A free report from Robert Half, The Demand for Skilled Talent, points out that there were 200,000 more jobs on the market in August 2013 than in August 2012. This rate of opportunity growth could lead to a global shortfall of up to 18 million specialist workers by 2020 in advanced economies like the United States. According to the same report, 66 percent of American businesses are having trouble recruiting for specific job openings.

So what can you do to deal with the accounting and finance talent shortage? Here are some ideas:

Think Inside the Box

Train members of your existing staff to expand their responsibilities and skill sets so they can fill some gaps in your organization even though there’s an external talent shortage. This approach has several benefits, including:

  • Your existing employees will appreciate the ongoing opportunities for professional development, and hence will be more likely to stay with you long term.
  • You’re less vulnerable to the vagaries of the employment market.
  • Your staff already knows the company’s mission, systems and culture, so they’ll need less orientation than a new hire.

Obviously, this idea has its benefits, but it also has its limits. You can’t work your team into the ground to cover a staff shortage. Recognize when it’s time to recruit new members to prevent your team from getting overloaded.

Here are some signs employees may feel overburdened and looking to leave:

  • Decreasing work quality
  • Restlessness, agitation and emotional outbursts
  • Forgetfulness and poor timekeeping
  • Requests for flexible work arrangements
  • Unusual amount of absences from work

You never know who you might bump into by networking. So go the whole hog: Let your professional contacts and your personal friends know what kind of skilled professionals your company wants to hire.

Try face-to-face networking, too — its immediacy and personal touch make it highly effective for discovering potential candidates.

Get Some Outside Help

One way to get results without putting in all the time and effort yourself is to use a recruitment specialist to help work through the talent shortage for specialized roles. Work with your chosen recruiter to perfect your job descriptions and identify suitable candidates. With a specialist recruiter, it’s easier to find candidates even for roles that require rare skill sets and specific expertise. 

Are you struggling to fill a specialist role in your company? Learn more about how Robert Half Finance & Accounting can help.

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