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Attracting Top Finance Talent

Lately, I have been hearing from CFO’s throughout the country that attracting top talent continues to be challenge for most organizations. Reaching the best candidates involves thinking about your overall hiring process experience and not just the position you want to fill. Here are a few tips to help you attract top finance talent:

  1. Make Applying Easy. Finance professional appreciate systems that are efficient and want to work for organizations that are efficient as well. While online applications are supposed to make the application process easy, many do not. Be sure that your application system is well organized and asks questions relevant to finance positions. Frequently I hear from candidates who thought they were interested in a position, but after spending more than an hour responding to questions that seem more appropriate for a variety of positions other than CPA, they just give up. Your application process is a candidate’s first exposure to you and your brand – make sure you are making the right impression.

  2. Offer Valuable Interactions. As a group, accountants and other finance professionals tend to be focused and direct. Top finance candidates want to spend the interview discussing their background, the job and what they might bring to it. What they don’t want to do is make multiple trips to meet with the same people over and over again. They also do not want to spend time answering questions that do not reveal much about them or how they might fit into your culture. It is important to keep in mind that highly desirable candidates are likely employed and interviewing with more than one organization. When you bring them in for an interview, be sure that you make the interaction valuable. Do not waste any time letting them know about the opportunity you have to offer and why you are the best organization for them.

  3. Communicate Clearly and Honestly. Most candidates realize that interviewing is a multi-step process that takes time. What can really frustrate and change a candidate’s perception of your organization is your communication about the process. Employers that don’t communicate the steps in the process, or make a commitment to contact a candidate and then do not, will lose top talent. Finance processionals have a great respect for process and accountability. A potenital employer who says they will call in two days, but then takes two weeks to respond creates a poor impression. In addition, most highly skilled professionals have large professional networks. Bad word of mouth about your organization and the interview process communication might prevent some of the best candidates from even applying in the future.

The competition for top talent in finance is fierce. I encourage all employers to take a look at their overall interview experience and take steps to ensure it is a positive and efficient system. If you don’t, you might not even get a chance to interview the brightest and the best.

Attracting Top Finance Talent

Four Reason to get Your CPA

Certified Public Accountants don’t just maintain financial records and analyze numbers. In our current challenging and dynamic economic climate, CPAs are needed to make sense of increasingly complex financial transactions -- from buyouts to grappling with changing tax laws.

However, some working professionals and college students in the field of accounting & finance wonder: Is becoming a Certified Public Accountant worth it? Most working CPAs would answer this question with a resounding yes! The following are four benefits to getting your CPA license:

          1. Professional Recognition
Being a CPA means you invested time and energy into being among the most educated in your profession. Along with MDs, PhDs, and JDs, the CPA designation is recognized as a mark of excellence and accomplishment. Current pass rates for the CPA exam suggest it is one of the most difficult professional licensure exams in the U.S.

          2. Greater Compensation
According to the AICPA, CPAs earn 10-15% more than non-CPAs. Over time this difference in earning power can really add up. Becker Education reports that over the course of a 40-year career, a CPA can earn as much as $1 million more than a non-certified accountant.

          3. Competitive Edge
The CPA commitment to continuing education provides a competitive edge in your career. Employers value professionals who maintain their skills and learn new competencies. Additionally, there are some positions - such as auditor - where a CPA is a must for advancement. Without it, you are limited to staff-level jobs supervised by a CPA. This becomes even more important as professionals throughout their careers look to climb the corporate ladder in the accounting and finance vertical.

          4. Higher Employment
CPAs enjoy a higher rate of employment. Bisk CPA Review reports that CPAs have an unemployment rate that is about half of the national average and 1/3 less than finance professionals without a CPA license. Even the Bureau of Labor Statistics notes that a CPA license improves job prospects with the accounting profession.

By all accounts there are many advantages to getting and maintaining your CPA license. And, with no end in sight on the demand for CPAs, now is a good time to consider this important designation.

Four Reason to get Your CPA

Grads: Make Searching Your Summer Job

I get it. You’ve spent the last several months in accounting and audit classes preparing for finals. You feel like you deserve some time off, even though you don’t have a job. But, don’t take a break! There are many other recent grads looking for positions. If you take a few months off, you will fall behind the pack and possibly miss out on the ideal opportunity. Instead, make finding the right position your job this summer. That means:

Work Each Day
Just like a regular position, job hunting requires daily effort. To help you stay on track, set specific hours for your job search. Commit to starting at the same time each day. Take a break, and then work a little more. While Xbox or going to the beach might be tempting, looking for a job needs to be your top priority. Large gaps of time on a resume are red flags and if you secure an interview and are asked what you’ve been doing since graduating you’ll want to be able to confidently state that you’ve been focused on finding the right position. Working in a short term job to simply bring in some income during this search time does not hurt either. It keeps you from depleting your savings, relying on mom and dad who expected you to be off the payroll by now and it conveys a strong work ethic.

Use the Best Tools
In order to be successful, make sure you are working with the best tools. To start, take a fresh look at your resume and ensure it is up-to-date, error free, and engaging. One new trend candidates are using to stick out from the pack is a visual resume. In a field such as finance – which is fairly traditional - a visual resume would surely make an impression. If you need a few tips on creating your own visual resume, there are several sites on the web, such as this one, which are helpful.

Also, reach out to and stay in touch with your school’s career services office. Often college career counselors hear about openings before they are public. They are also a great way to keep informed about career fairs and other opportunities.

Network On and Offline
Research indicates that networking plays a role in up to 80% of all job placements. Luckily, you already have a great network; you just might not be utilizing it. Instructors, friends, family, neighbors, alumni from your high school or college, and even former employers are all part of your network. Make it a goal to reach out to at least two people per week and discuss your interest in finding a position. Contact can be by phone or email. The important thing is to let people know you are looking for an accounting/finance position.

You already know that you need to use your online social tools such as Twitter, LinkedIn, and Facebook to network with contacts. The key with these networking sites is to ensure your profile is updated and to check in daily. There are also other online tools that can enhance your networking. For example, InTheDoor is a great networking tool that combines data from your Facebook account with job postings on Indeed.com. The tool then delivers a list of companies currently hiring and employ people from your network. Take some time to explore online and see if this or other online network enhancement tools might be right for you.

Also, research networking groups for the accounting/finance industry and assess whether it would be possible and appropriate to attend their meetings and events. Networking groups are a great time investment and can lead to relationships that you’ll keep for the rest of your career. Networking events are not job fairs, so attend with the mindset that you are there to meet other finance professionals.

Stay Positive
While networking and a great resume are essential tools in your job search, nothing is more important than your attitude. Anyone who has ever been out of work knows that staying positive during the process is a challenge. This can be even more difficult if other recent grads are getting hired while your search drags. Looking for a job can be stressful. During your search, try to stick to the plan you’ve outlined; it ensures that you spend a few hours each day doing something positive to help you reach your goals.

Keep in mind that finding a job is a process that takes time. Stay focused on all of the positive things you are doing to find a position and be patient.

The truth is the average professional will change jobs four to six times in their career. Therefore, learning how to find a job is skill that will serve you for years to come. Best of luck in your job search!

Grads: Make Searching Your Summer Job

Interview Follow-Up

Getting ready for a job interview takes work. But, before you pick up your suit from the dry cleaners or Google Map your directions, make sure you have a follow-up plan ready. The reality is employers expect follow-up after an interview. Yet, surprisingly, only 45% of job candidates take the time to reach out post-interview. Don’t make the mistake of skipping the post-interview follow-up.

Following up is more than just a formality. It’s a great way to remind the interviewer(s) that you are a strong candidate for the job who has the professionalism and attention to detail needed to be successful. If you need an interview follow-up plan that is effective without being overkill, consider these four steps:

Interviewing can be difficult and not hearing about a job you really want can make things even more stressful. But, with a clear follow-up plan, you can eliminate some of your post-interview stress while knowing you are doing all you can to advance your career.

Interview Follow-Up

Networking as a Temp

For many people, building a professional network is difficult. For people working in temporary positions, it can be even harder. Often, assignments do not last long enough to naturally build relationships or get to know people. Furthermore, other employees know you are there for only short periods of time and frequently don’t make the effort they would with a new full-time hire.

But in my mind, temporary employees have an advantage in building their networks. Temporary and contract employees are exposed to more people in more organizations. All they need are a few simple tips to help them connect and make a lasting impression.

Try these four tips temps can use to help grow their professional network:

Arrive Early: Most offices have a starting time, but the influencers and managers frequently arrive earlier. Make an effort to arrive at work a little early. You will find there are fewer people around, and the environment is usually calm and quiet. Because of this, people are often more willing to talk and spend time early in the day before the emails, calls, and deadlines begin to pile up. Best of all, others will notice your early arrival and may even strike up a conversation.

Volunteer Help: Almost every office has some type of charity or workgroup that requires volunteer effort. Make it your business to volunteer. Even if you will only be able to attend one meeting, you can offer to help with meeting notes or handouts. By participating with employees on a peer-to-peer level, you position yourself as a colleague. Just being introduced as a temp who has offered to help will get your name out there and facilitate a new set of introductions that months of online networking can’t deliver.

Eat Lunch: At many organizations, the lunch room or cafeteria is the place to be seen and connect. Temps who skip lunch in order to be paid an extra hour are really doing themselves a disservice. Even if you don’t know anyone, you can strike up a conversation while waiting in line or ask your agency if they have other temps at the organization you can meet. People who take a lunch break are often looking for a chance to step away from work and be a little social. Take advantage of this to reach out and form some connections.

Don’t Bully.  People understand that many temps are looking for full-time and/or permanent work.  Don’t force your way into groups or conversations and connect with people to only talk about your job search. Instead smile, be a good listener, and ask questions. Before long the conversation will turn to you.  When it does, have a simple statement about your employment status ready to share: “I’m temping here while I am looking for a position as a full-time bookkeeper.”  Then move on.  

If people are interested or willing to help they will bring the conversation back to you. What you don’t want to do is make people feel like you are only talking to them to promote yourself. If you get to talk with a few folks, be sure to connect with them on LinkedIn. LinkedIn is a great way to professionally reach out and stay in touch without feeling like you are forcing yourself on others.

Growing your professional network takes time and effort. But, with these few simple tips temps can make the most of the networking opportunities at each assignment. Good luck!

Networking as a Temp

Seven Ways to Build a Positive Reputation

When you look at your colleagues that enjoy the most success, chances are they have one thing in a common: a positive reputation. Whether you are in your first job or at the high point of your career, your reputation in the workplace can either help or inhibit your success. Professionals who put effort into building a positive workplace reputation often enjoy better assignments and more opportunities for advancement.

The good news is you don’t have to leave your professional reputation to chance. There are seven attributes which help create a positive workplace reputation. Here are seven ways you want your colleagues and supervisors to describe you:

     1.  “You Can Count on Him!”
Getting the work done on time, on budget, and without drama can help you build a positive workplace reputation. Strive to be someone who people can rely on to deliver without a lot of supervision, coaching, or complaining.

     2.  “She Can Take It!”
Often, highly visible projects come with stress, pressure, and challenges. Learn to be a resource that can deal with difficult and uncomfortable situations - with professionalism and calm.

     3.  “He Is Trustworthy!”
Key assignments often involve access to information that might not be common knowledge among the staff. Show your employer that you can be trusted to maintain confidences in all workplace matters.

     4.   “She Delivers Quality!”
There are people in your office who can work fast, but chances are there are fewer that can deliver a high quality outcome. Pay close attention to every detail and ensure that your work aligns with the assignment and exceeds expectations.

     5.   “He is Great to Work With!”
Being easy to work with is a desirable trait that can open countless professional doors for you. Being positive and open minded will help you be approachable and receptive to new ideas, concepts, and solutions. Professionals like to work with - and work harder for - positive people.

     6.   “She Knows Her Stuff!”
Make an effort to keep up-to-speed on best practices and emerging technology as well as industry news. And, be willing to share what you know. Knowledgeable professionals are seen as a valuable asset by employers and employees.

     7.   “He’s Innovative!”
While innovation has become a bit of a buzz word, the truth is employers want employees to help them do things smarter, better, and faster. Work hard to bring new ideas and solutions into processes and projects in a way that is collaborative.

Ambitious professionals know that just doing their job is not enough. You need to do more to get ahead. Taking the time to build and maintain a positive workplace reputation is a great way to ensure that when opportunities arise, your reputation enhances your talent and skills.

Seven Ways to Build a Positive Reputation