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Hiring Top Talent in 2022

By Paul McDonald
January 1, 2022

With a shortage of skilled professionals, managers need to know the current hiring trends to be better prepared to recruit top talent.

 

Perhaps overused, “cautiously optimistic” is nonetheless probably the best phrase to describe the mood in today’s finance and accounting sectors. After a tough nearly two years and despite new COVID-19 variants, many companies expect to recover and grow in 2022. If you’re a hiring manager, this is a double-edged sword. Demand for financial professionals is already high, and further business growth will create an even tighter recruitment market. At the same time, there’s a shortage of skilled professionals, and increasing competition for top talent is driving up salaries.

 

Employers will need to use all the tools at their disposal to find, hire, and retain talent. The more you know about current hiring trends, the better prepared you’ll be to land top candidates.

 

One such resource is the 2022 Salary Guide from Robert Half. While you’ll want to download the entire guide to get a complete picture of the 2022 hiring environment, here are some of the key trends outlined to help you get a head start in the recruitment race.

 

POSITIONS IN DEMAND

 

While skilled finance and accounting professionals are needed across the board, demand is particularly high for positions such as:

 

  • Accounting operations (accounts payable/accounts receivable/bookkeeper)
  • Compliance analyst
  • Controller
  • Financial analyst
  • Financial reporting
  • Payroll specialist
  • Project manager
  • Senior and staff accountants
  • Tax accountant

 

There are more openings for these positions than exceptional candidates to staff them. To access the skills you need, when you need them, consider bringing in contract professionals to support your core teams. These interim workers may potentially be more helpful to you than just staffing gaps while you search for permanent candidates; if they demonstrate on-the-job prowess and an affinity for your organizational culture, you may want to offer them a permanent position further down the road.

 

Broad shifts in the way organizations operate are impacting recruitment strategies. Many public accounting firms, for example, now take a year-round approach to tax preparation. Rather than bringing in extra help only to manage the end-of-year surge, in many cases they’re hiring permanent tax accountants.

 

In banking, regulatory changes are driving greater demand for compliance experts, while a busy housing market requires skilled mortgage and banking operations professionals. Banks also need cybersecurity experts as hackers deploy ever more sophisticated cyberattacks.

 

IT AND ENTRY-LEVEL WORKERS

 

While digital transformation never went away, digital adoption accelerated after the onset of the pandemic as companies scrambled to outfit their remote teams with the technology they needed to work from home (see “Managing and Building Remote Finance Teams,” Strategic Finance, October 2020).

 

Digital transformation continues its march forward to help optimize tools and processes like financial systems and reporting, and provide greater efficiency and deeper insights to finance and accounting teams. No surprise, then, that many of 2022’s most sought-after skills will be IT-related, including experience with:

 

  • Cloud-based systems
  • Customer relationship management software
  • Data analysis and visualization
  • Enterprise resource planning systems
  • Advanced Excel skills
  • QuickBooks

 

Stiff competition for professionals with in-demand tech skills such as these isn’t likely to ease. Meanwhile, your existing teams don’t want to be left behind when it comes to technology. So, it’s likely you’ll need to invest more in growing talent in-house. To retain your best finance and accounting professionals, upskilling them in areas like cloud computing, cybersecurity, and machine learning should be high on your priority list.

 

Gen Z workers in particular struggled during the pandemic, with 66% saying that their career suffered a setback (see “Careers Derailed Due to COVID-19,” Robert Half, April 30, 2021). Yet, as digital natives, they can provide the IT skills that finance leaders need for their digital transformation plans.

 

That’s likely why 71% of senior financial managers have a reverse mentoring program in place, according to a Robert Half survey of more than 270 senior finance managers conducted between June and July 2021. These programs allow younger workers to upskill their more tenured colleagues in technology. In return, the entry-level workers get a chance to network with seasoned professionals, which is good for their career progress.

 

Gen Z finance and accounting professionals are eager for training and development in their field. They need support to gain relevant certifications, and they need guidance to develop crucial soft skills, such as:

 

  • Adaptability and change management
  • Collaboration and teamwork
  • Communication
  • Critical and independent thinking
  • Problem-solving

 

In-house hiring tea​ms can struggle to find entry-level workers. They may be able to attract this talent with the promise of professional development in some of the areas mentioned. Another effective strategy is to partner with a talent solutions firm that specializes in placing accounting and finance professionals.

 

WORKERS WANT FLEXIBILITY

 

The pandemic has changed the way professionals think about their careers. Work-life balance is the driving force behind what some have dubbed the “Great Resignation,” as people walk out on jobs they feel are bad for their well-being.

 

By adapting your policies to emphasize work-life balance, you can build a workforce that’s satisfied, more productive, and less likely to jump ship. Popular policies include:

 

  • Hybrid working schedules. Around a third (34%) of employees in a Robert Half survey said they wouldn’t join or stay with a company that doesn’t allow remote work (see Robert Half, “Returning to the Office,” April 4, 2021). For most teams, a schedule that mixes in-office and work-from-home days is the best way to ensure that morale and productivity stay high.

 

  • Flexible hours. For many remote or hybrid workers, 9-to-5 seems arbitrary. Why not 7-to-3 or 11-to-7? Or two four-hour “windows,” one in the early morning and the other in the evening? Managed correctly, flexible hours are a win-win, enabling employees to work when they’re most productive and giving managers more options when assigning time-sensitive tasks.

 

  • Paid time off. The pandemic brought home for many the importance of paid time off (PTO) and paid sick leave. Extra PTO is now an important tool if you want to attract and retain the best talent.

 

From the digital revolution to the COVID-19 crisis, finance and accounting leaders have long expected employees to adapt to changing circumstances. In order to win the battle for talent, you will need to demonstrate to candidates that you’re willing and able to do the same.

 

Paul McDonald is a senior executive director at talent solutions and recruiting firm Robert Half and a member of IMA. You can follow him on LinkedIn.
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