Finance teams across the US are bracing for another hectic close season, but this time, with fewer staff on hand. A recent survey highlights this point, as 61% of CFOs said talent was their top priority in 2022. And in another US Pulse survey, 77% of CFOs claimed that they are struggling to get work done due to staffing shortages.
The problem is twofold: finance professionals are leaving jobs in record numbers, and the pool of qualified candidates is also shrinking. Some of today's top finance and accounting talent are leaving their jobs and going independent in search of greater work/life flexibility. Others are leaving the industry altogether and with no plans of returning, according to a new McKinsey study.
This has far-reaching implications for businesses, from the bottom line to the morale of employees picking up the slack. While all this may sound dire, companies can mitigate the talent crunch and find top finance and accounting talent by reframing their approach to talent acquisition.
Instead of relying on onboarding a staffing agency or recruiting firm, consider these seven strategies to get in front of the talent you need.
1. Use Niche Job Boards to Reach a Wider Audience of Qualified Talent
Savvy business leaders are turning to niche job boards to find candidates with the specific skills they need. These job boards allow you to target your search and reach a more qualified group of job seekers. For example, Financialjobbank’s job board focuses exclusively on financial planning, accounting, and auditing roles.
Other niche job boards you may want to consider include:
According to LinkedIn’s recruitment statistics, online job boards are the most popular way to find a job, with 56% of respondents saying they have used them at some point in their career. They are a goldmine of talent, and with the right approach, you can cut through the noise and find the hidden gems.
2. Tap into Online Communities and Social Forums
Online communities are digital spaces where like-minded financial and accounting professionals can share ideas, ask questions, collaborate on projects, and find jobs.
By joining an online forum or community, you can gain insights into the latest industry trends, find solutions to common problems, and connect with a global network of finance and accounting professionals that can be your next hire.
Reddit’s r/accounting is one of the most popular online communities, with almost 700,000 members. The forum covers various topics, from tax and auditing to financial modeling and career advice. Using the subreddit’s search function, you can easily find discussions on any topic you’re interested in and even use it to post job postings.
Another great online resource for finance professionals is CFO Connect. The platform bills itself as “the world’s largest community of finance executives” and offers its members a wealth of resources, including forums, articles, webinars, and events. CFO Connect also has a job board where you can post openings and search for candidates.
LinkedIn also has several groups dedicated to finance and accounting professionals, including:
- Finance Plus USA
- Financial Control
- Accounting Finance Professionals
- Private Equity, M&A, and Venture Capital Investments
3. Host a Talent Search Event
Hosting an event is a great way to build relationships with potential candidates, learn more about their skills and experience, and assess their fit for your company.
You can hold a happy hour event at your headquarters, host a webinar on a timely topic, offer a training seminar, hold an open house, or even sponsor a conference. Combining your talent search event with an alumni event can help you maximize the impact of your efforts — giving potential future hires the opportunity to learn more about your company culture from people who have already worked there.
By doing so, you'll be able to brand your company as an employer of choice. And, if done right, your event could even become an annual tradition that candidates look forward to.
4. Rework Roles for the Project-Based Economy
As organizations seek to become more agile in their operations, many are increasingly warming up to project-based work. And it makes sense. By leveraging top talent to solve pressing challenges as a group via a specific project, companies can drive innovation at scale at a much faster pace.
It’s not surprising then that research shows the value of project-oriented economic activity will grow to $20 trillion in 2027 — up from $12 trillion in 2017. The point? Project-based work will be essential for business success, and companies must embrace a project-based mindset to compete in the new economy.
For finance and accounting departments going through periods of change, projects can be an invaluable asset. There are many aspects of today’s finance and accounting roles that lend themselves to the project-based economy, such as:
- Financial Modeling
- ERP implementation(s)
- Financial planning and Analysis
- Finance Transformation
- M&A Due Diligence
As you rework roles for the project-based economy, ask yourself if you need to fill the position with a full-time employee or if you can leverage an independent subject matter expert to complete the work. You might find that you can get more done faster by exploring an alternative route, which brings us to our next strategy.
5. Explore On-Demand Talent Acquisition Platforms to Source Top Talent
Workers are embracing remote work as the new normal, and many are joining on-demand talent acquisition platforms to pursue more flexible independent lifestyles.
These on-demand talent acquisition platforms like Graphite connect businesses with a vast network of independent professionals available to work on a project basis. They offer a simple and effective way to find and onboard the talent you need when you need it.
For example, a Big Four accounting firm had a client undergoing an M&A, and it retained the firm to help it navigate a successful transition post-Day 1. Because the firm had capacity constraints and needed to execute this project relatively quickly, it decided to onboard an independent human capital consultant to facilitate the transition.
Imagine if the firm didn’t have access to an on-demand talent acquisition platform.
6. Invest in Training/Apprenticeship Programs
One of the best ways to attract top finance and accounting talent is to invest in training and apprenticeship programs. J.P. Morgan, for instance, offers a Financial Services Apprenticeship Program that allows individuals to earn industry-recognized certifications while working in their business.
The program targets bright students in their senior year of college who are interested in a career in finance but may not have the academic pedigree or work experience required for a traditional analyst role. Participants who complete the program successfully are awarded full-time positions by the financial services company.
And it seems like other corporations are jumping on the bandwagon, too. According to the Department of Labor, the number of apprentices has surpassed 634,000 — a 64% increase from 2012.
That said, what can you do to get started? Attend career fairs at colleges that don’t have strong finance programs or host information sessions to introduce students to the field of finance and accounting. You can also partner with local community colleges and vocational schools to create apprenticeship programs that fit your business’s needs.
7. Develop a Corporate Alumni Network
A corporate alumni network is a system that enables companies to keep in touch with and continue a relationship with former employees. Such a network can be invaluable for companies looking to hire finance and accounting talent.
For one, it can help you save money on the recruitment process. Research shows that rehiring a previous employee costs half as much as hiring a new person. Secondly, a corporate alumni network can help you quickly and efficiently identify high-quality candidates because these individuals are already familiar with your company's culture, values, and internal processes.
Citi, for example, is one company that has harnessed the power of its corporate alumni network to great effect. The financial services giant has more than 17,000 alumni in 113 countries worldwide and has tapped into this vast talent pool to help it with its recruitment needs.
Alumni are encouraged to refer friends and contacts for job openings, and the company regularly hosts events to keep alumni up-to-date with developments at the company.
Building an alumni network from the ground up can be challenging, but the rewards are well worth it.
The war for talent will only intensify in the coming years, so it's more important than ever for businesses to have a solid strategy for talent acquisition. Alumni networks, niche job boards, and the rapidly growing remote workforce offer a great way to find and onboard the right people for the job quickly and efficiently. By optimizing your talent acquisition efforts, you can make sure that you have the finance and accounting talent you need to support your business – now and into the future.