Steven Fields was an up-and-coming public accountant at a major accounting firm after graduating at the top of his class from the University of Maryland. If you’d asked him then what he thought of job recruiters, he would have shrugged his shoulders. He had no idea what they did.

Then one day, he decided to pivot toward a very different career path, one where he found himself using his accounting expertise, drive and interpersonal skills to help other professionals.

Today he’s a father of three, with 8,500 LinkedIn connections and the title of senior vice president at Robert Half Finance & Accounting. He’s spent the last 25 years as a financial recruiter, and he couldn’t be happier.

“When I started in the Washington, D.C., market, there was a severe downturn and a lot of people were out of jobs and needed help,” says Fields, remembering his early days. “I got so much satisfaction by helping them secure their first jobs out of school and watching their career progression — in some cases all the way up to working as controllers and beyond.”

He’s based now in Raleigh, N.C., where — like many cities — it’s companies that need the most help.

“With the accountant unemployment rate being what it is, the desperation is coming from my clients — managers and employers who can’t find the right people to work for them. It’s rewarding to find candidates who go on to flourish at their companies and to hear what a difference their contributions have made.”

One hiring manager’s success story

One of the people Fields got to know when she was looking for a job herself is now a manager at a company that experienced a rapid turnover in its accounting department, just as she was taking the reins. She needed to hire staff accountants, controllers and financial analysts, and she didn’t have time to wait for applicants to respond to her job postings.

“She needed to get her jobs staffed with the right people — quickly,” Fields says. “Her career depended on it, and she had to rely on professionals she knew and trusted. We helped her hire a number of people for her department, and I’m happy to report that it’s been a big success story.”

His advice for others like her

The hiring process requires a great deal of planning and recruitment before companies can interview for finance and accounting positions.

“You can’t go window shopping these days,” says Fields, referring to that time in his career when there were more professionals out of work than companies looking to employ them. Here is some of the guidance he gives those looking to hire:

  • Find out what top candidates desire most in a job, and address that in interviews.
  • Budget the right salary for the position, based on market rates found in the Robert Half Salary Guide.
  • Make the right offer the first time, from compensation to employee perks.
  • Enlist the help of a recruiting firm.

“The services Robert Half provides in terms of our screening and interviewing are all incredible time-savers for companies,” he says. “Time is money, and if we do our jobs right, we can save a lot of time — not to mention avert the aggravation of going all the way to the end of a process of hiring a top-notch professional and having the person turn down the job. We work to make sure that doesn’t happen.”

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