According to The Intersect Group, 58% of CFOs indicated that they have had difficulty when trying to fill open accounting and financial positions. As employers search out the perfect candidate, they have found that most don’t have the specialized skill set that the company requires. Hiring managers and others in charge of recruiting this type of talent often become frustrated because of their detailed needs in a candidate. Most accounting and finance professionals today are specializing in specific marketable skill sets instead of the more generalized focus that some companies are looking to hire.

As one of the most regulated industries in the United States, the accounting and financial field requires candidates with not only the skills to keep a company out of hot water, but also to provide near perfection in their work. With authorities such as the SEC and FINRA stepping up, it’s becoming easier for companies to find themselves in places they don’t want to be via a bad tweet or an inverted number. We’ve come up with a few guidelines that your hiring department should take into consideration when you are looking for your next candidate.

Look for experience in identical industries

In order to get the best bang for your buck, you’ll want to take a close look at the candidate’s industry experience. If their qualifications are identical, the candidate that has more closely related experience in your industry will be your best candidate. Financial information goes well beyond credits and debits, and it’s important that your accounting or financial professional understands industry specifics. This will help your company take full advantage of certain tax breaks and credits when it comes to the end-of-year report.

Take into consideration their track record from previous jobs

This is another important qualification to look for when hiring your next accounting or financial candidate. Especially in highly regulated environments, it’s important that your company has all of its ducks in a row when it comes time for internal or external audits. A question that might be important to ask when following up with references is the candidate’s track record and performance when his or her past employer was audited. Mistakes in this industry can cost a company thousands if not hundreds of thousands. Perfection is almost necessary in this field.

Find candidates whose education matches the job

Finding a candidate that understands tax accounting but has less experience with general accounting principles might not help your business. You need to take into account the specific accounting knowledge the job requires. Just because someone has 10+ years of experience in payroll accounting doesn’t necessarily mean he or she understands general accounting principles as it relates to your company.

Hiring in this industry can be tough and your patience might be tested, but finding the perfect candidate with the relevant experience you need will be more beneficial to your company than hiring someone who may or may not fit the bill, and could potentially cost you thousands or even the entire company. Be as explicit as possible in your job posting and interview questions in order to hire specifically what you’re looking for, and try to avoid straying.

Have you had troubles hiring in this specific field? What’s your advice for finding the perfect candidate?

Jessica Miller-Merrell

Jessica Miller-Merrell, SPHR, is an author, speaker, Human Resources professional, and workplace social media expert who has a passion for recruiting, training, and all things social media. She is the president and CEO of Xceptional HR, and a leader in the HR community with more than 12 years of industry experience. The author of Tweet This! Twitter for Business, Jessica was named by HR Examiner as the second most influential recruiter on the Internet and the seventh most powerful woman on Twitter. She is a columnist for both SmartBrief and The Huffington Post, in addition to Blogging4Jobs and Human Resources One on One. Jessica has been interviewed for professional articles in CIO Magazine, Entrepreneur Magazine, SHRM’s HR Magazine, and on CBS. Jessica earned a Senior Professional in Human Resources designation in 2008, and holds a bachelor’s degree in Anthropology and Business from Kansas State University. Originally from a small town in Kansas, Jessica currently lives near Oklahoma City with her husband, Greg and daughter, Ryleigh.

2 Comments

  • Avatar Felicity says:

    The only thing that kept Al Capone out of jail was an accountant. The only thing that put Al Capone in jail was an accountant. So that has to tell you how important having a good accountant is.

  • Avatar Soren Geoff says:

    Totally agree with Felicity :). The power of a good accountant should never be underestimated. So pay extra attention when hiring for a new one and do all you can possibly think of to test the guy prior to hiring him.

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