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How To Hire Top Accounting Candidates in 2017

Hiring Top Accounting Candidates in 2017

We're at an interesting crossroads here in Houston, Texas.  The 2015 – 2016 market was a rough one, especially for anyone laid off with 20+ years of experience and for those graduating with no experience over the past two years.

Though the plight of the more experienced worker is one we champion often, that is another subject for another day.  For now, we'd like to address this interesting environment into which our newest generation of accountants has been released is important too.

We're facing a flock of zero to two year Accounting and Finance majors who have been introduced into the workforce during a time of turmoil and confusion.  So far, it's all they know.  Those that were lucky enough to find jobs in their field witnessed understaffed, under-trained and overworked departments and it has greatly influenced what they are looking for in their next job.

We're facing a flock of zero to two year Accounting and Finance majors who have seen turmoil and confusion in a tough market.

Amanda McNeil, Burnett Senior Recruiter, 2017

Here are the top 5 requests when selecting a future workplace from our new job seekers and top accounting candidates!

  • Stability. Believe it or not, the millennial generation has been asking us recruiters for a STABLE work environment. Yep!  The same group of people who we've been projected to not stay with a company more than 2-5 years is begging for an employer they can lay a foundation with. They've experienced companies where turnover is rampant and are seeing the negative impact on their ability to learn and grow.

  • Structure. Yes – structure!  Although we've thought for a period of time that companies would attract more talent by offering work-from-home options and more hands-off management styles, we've actually been seeing A LOT of requests from our entry level interviews for a company that has a defined role with regularly scheduled reviews and meetings with their direct manager or supervisor. They want DIRECTION and LEADERSHIP.  Flexibility is still important, but the ability to know what is coming next has become a higher priority!

  • Growth.  This may seem like a no-brainer, but it's hard to attract talent these days without some opportunity for them to grow.  Here's what's interesting - when most candidates refer to growth, they often mean "learning opportunities" – they aren't asking to be the controller tomorrow. They won't leave your company just because they may reside in Accounts Payable or Accounts Receivable for a few years as long as you provide the opportunity to cross-train and you have managers in place that will give them the appropriate progressive training in on-the-job functions (like taking on some journal entries and reconciliations when they are ready).  If you refuse to hire someone because this word, growth, comes out in an interview, you could be missing on some great talent!  Ask them what kind of "growth" they are hoping for and explain what you can do as their future employer and mentor. 

  • Flexibility.  Bear with us on this one.  Most people in Houston are driving 1 hour at a minimum, EACH WAY, to their place of employment.  We know that especially with new talent, you want them present in the office so you can be available to them.  If you need to be strict on an 8am to 5pm to start, that's fine, but, if you can give employees a chance to choose to work a consistent schedule of 7am to 4pm or 8:30am to 5:30pm to avoid traffic, you'll have a more positive response.  We have candidates come in and out of our doors constantly because of work/life balance  issues. They understand that in Accounting they'll have to work some overtime, but it's hard to get them to commit to overtime in addition to a long commute.  

  • Reasonable Hours.  We get it – if a person chooses Accounting as their career path, there will be times when long hours are a must.  Our candidates understand and expect those long hours during month end, but they are asking for some transparency about it.  Set expectations up front, as soon as during the interview process, for what the hours will really be like week-to-week and month-to-month.  Is it 40-45 hours a week every week and then 50+ during month end?  Can they come into the office early to execute the over-time instead of staying past 8pm?  Do they have ability to take some work home  to complete after a family dinner?  This generation is always connected.  Most are willing to put in the hours, but most want a heads up and some flexibility to accomplish it!

Blog Written by:  Amanda McNeil, Sr. Recruiter, Burnett Specialists - Houston​


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