CFO interviewing accounting candidate

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by Jennifer Hannigan, CEO Alliance Resource Group

 

Happy New Year! Yes, we survived 2020 — and for most of us, it turned out to not be quite as bad as we feared. Most economists and experts agree — we are at the beginning stages of a recovery.

If you’re like me, I have big hopes for 2021. It’s time to get back to business, stay focused and grow my organization. How best to do that? Hire great talent.

While many industries and disciplines were hurt by the pandemic, the accounting and finance fields were not. If you tried to hire in the third and fourth quarter of 2020, you know the candidate pool in Southern California is neither wide nor deep. It’s still a very competitive market.

Many companies will be hiring in 2021, and we expect quite a bit of candidate movement. As a hiring manager, you should plan for one or more of your employees to resign this year to pursue other opportunities. It’s not personal, just a fact of the market.

Goals won’t be accomplished; projects won’t be completed; and revenue targets won’t be met unless you have GREAT people in place on your team.

I challenge you to look closely at your organization. Do you need more resources? Do you need to upgrade your talent? What holes need to be filled? When the inevitable happens and an employee resigns (maybe even your top performer), are you ready for it?

As we dig into 2021, here are some Hiring Resolutions that will help make this year your most successful yet.

  1. Stuff the Candidate Pipeline

As a manager and leader in your organization, be on the constant lookout for good people who could add value to your team. Whether or not you currently have an open position, you should be identifying and interviewing potential talent. You can use your internal HR or talent acquisition team or an outside recruiter to build and maintain an up-to-date candidate database. With this strategy, when the time comes, you will have a strong candidate pool and can make a high-quality hire quickly and efficiently.

  1. Develop a Disciplined Hiring Process

Design a rigorous interview and assessment process, and do not cut corners to save time or budget. Draft questions to assess both technical skills and culture fit. Be consistent with what you ask candidates so that the experience is uniform and fair. If you believe in assessments, do your research and find the best fit for your specific needs. Bottom line: Be methodical, thorough and consistent.

  1. Focus on Building a Brand and Reputation

The recruitment and hiring process offers a great opportunity for you to build both the company and your personal brand. Every interaction can strengthen your reputation in the market, and make positions within your company even more desirable. Actively work to manage your Glass Door reputation. What does it say? Do you have current employees who would be willing to write an online review? Encourage this. You can be sure that prospective candidates will be visiting Glass Door before an interview.

Likewise, make sure your LinkedIn page is up-to-date, branded and professional. Leverage our LinkedIn tips to make a solid impression.

And, finally, review your website, especially your team page. What does it say about the culture and work environment? Does it speak to potential candidates and highlight why they would want to come to work for you?

  1. Spend Time with Recruiters

Even if you are not currently looking for a new team member, it’s worth your time to develop a strong relationship with a recruiter. Go deep with them. Tell them about your company and your long-term vision for the department. Be candid about why you work there and why someone would want to come and work for you. Let the recruiter get to know you so they can be on the constant lookout for your best new hire.

Recruiters not only keep an eye out for great talent; they also serve as excellent brand ambassadors. Equip them with the information they need to influence top talent in the marketplace. This third-party validation is priceless.

  1. Highlight Your Tangible and Intangible Benefits

Identify, highlight and be able to articulate the many benefits of working for your company. This goes far beyond the standard benefits packages — paid time off and medical. It should also include things like flexible work hours, your work-from-home policy, employee perks and celebrations, charitable matches, ongoing educational opportunities and more. Put it all in a professional presentation that can be shared with candidates, recruiters and your personal network.

  1. Update Your Technology

Good technology is a great perk. 2020 taught us we can no longer accept poor tech. Candidates want to know they’ll have the systems in place to be productive wherever and whenever they’re working. Invest in the time and resources to ensure you have upgraded hardware and software and highlight that when speaking to candidates.

  1. Align Finance and Accounting with Human Resources

Human Resources can be a huge support to accounting and finance leaders.  Build relationship with your HR team and communicate your vision. Spend time telling them what you are looking for in prospective employees and solicit their feedback. Equip them with knowledge and direction and consider them a part of your team.

  1. Do Your Research

Remember that a candidate is interviewing you and your company just as much as the reverse.  And he or she is most likely looking at opportunities at other companies, which means you have competition. Research what other businesses are offering in terms of compensation, benefits, growth, etc. and compare them to your own offer. Use this information to construct your value proposition and be able to communicate what you offer that would set you apart from the competition with prospective candidates.

  1. Keep It Moving and Communicate, Communicate, Communicate

Two points here.  If you have a current need and have found a candidate you really like, move fast. This doesn’t mean cut corners in the interview process, but it does mean to MOVE THE CANDIDATE THROUGH THE PROCESS AS QUICKLY AS POSSIBLE. Timing is the #1 reason companies miss out on great candidates.

The second most common reason: Poor communication. Insist on timely follow-up. If an interview must be moved because one of the interviewers is sick or on vacation, be transparent. If you interviewed the candidate but don’t have the green light to hire yet, be honest. The truth builds trust.

As for the candidates in your pipeline, follow up with them regularly to let them know what’s going on in your company. When a position opens, you want those strong candidates ready and eager to join the team.

  1. Consumer-Grade Onboarding and Retention

We would be remiss if we did not mention this. Once you have identified and hired a superstar, make sure to launch them successfully. New employees who have a comprehensive and positive onboarding process see much greater retention numbers. As we start 2021, I challenge you to look at how you introduce new team members to your company. Consider everything: Desk setup, office supplies, discussions on core values and culture, training, etc. Take every new employee to lunch within their first 30 days and make sure they feel welcome, connected and aligned with your expectations of what success looks like.

2021 offers us a wonderful opportunity to reset, recommit and rethink how we lead. These Hiring Resolutions will help ensure a successful year for you and your team.

 

Related Articles

Hiring for Aptitude and Attitude vs Skills (ARG)

Working with a Recruiter During COVID-19 (ARG)

Preparing for 2021: Five Questions for Finance Teams in Q3 (ARG)

How CFOs Can Push Past Fear to Resilience (CFO Magazine)


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