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Do Awards Matter?

A few days ago, SNI Companies’ Accounting Now, SNI Financial, SNI Technology, and Staffing Now divisions were named to the 2014 Best of Staffing® Client List. Best of Staffing is the nation’s only award that recognizes staffing agencies receiving remarkable reviews from their clients and the people they place in jobs. The Best of Staffing winners lists are a central place that businesses and talent come to find the best staffing agencies to call when they are in need. While we are proud to receive this award – again – you might be asking yourself as a current or potential SNI client – does it matter? My answer is both “yes” and “no.”

Yes. Fewer than 2% of all staffing agencies in North America earned the 2014 Best of Staffing® award for providing remarkable service quality to their clients. Firms that win this award have average satisfaction ratings quadruple the industry average. And, because these rating come from our own clients, it’s a “real world” vote of confidence in what we do. It’s not something we give a donation and “buy”, and it’s not an award based on how much money we make in a year. It is rewarding to know that our clients have a positive experience working with us, and think we are good at what we do.

No. While this award and other industry awards we receive are great, what really matters to us is how we serve our clients today and every day. Awards don’t mean much if we do not honor our commitment to provide highly talented candidates, use best-in-class recruiting techniques, and work with uncompromising integrity. At SNI, this means building and using all of our resources to help employers and candidates find mutual success. We don’t do “placements” but instead look to build and sustain long-term relationships that deliver benefit. In my mind, our greatest awards are the clients who have used our services for more than a decade and the candidates that we have placed who are enjoying successful careers with upward mobility.

It comes down to giving our clients the great service they deserve, placing top-tier candidates, and having the ability to move quickly to fill our client’s needs. In the end, we are honored to have been recognized by Inavero and CareerBuilder as one of the best in our field. But, we are even more grateful to our clients who give us the opportunity to surprise and delight them every day. To them we send a big “thank you” on behalf of the entire SNI team.

Do Awards Matter?

Hire a Veteran

Despite improvements in the unemployment picture overall, veterans still experience a higher jobless rate than non-veterans - after adjusting for age and demographic factors. According to the Council of Economic Advisers, the unemployment rate for veterans having served since 9/11 stands at around 8 percent, while the the overall unemployment rate has fallen to 6.4 percent.

As a recruiter I am faced with a paradox: how are our soldiers -who’ve made extraordinary sacrifices and have some of the most sophisticated training and leadership experience available - not findings jobs when I hear every day from employers that they cannot find skilled employees?

To me, the solution is for employers to be much more receptive to interviewing and hiring veterans. Unlike other categories of workers, veterans bring a host of in-demand skills to their jobs.

  1. Efficiency. Service members were trained to accomplish multiple tasks in minimal time. They adapt to faster paced environments better than most civilians, have strong time-management skills, complete tasks, and can make decisions in high-pressure environments.

  2. Diversity. Working closely with individuals who have a wide array of cultural backgrounds, religion, and geographic origins allows service men and women to gain strong interpersonal skills, which is a building block of creating corporate relationships.

  3. Accountability. Veterans adhere to company policies and procedures and understand that organizational skills are the key to being successful. Service members are trained to be responsible and accountable for their actions, while respecting the decisions and procedures put in place by their superiors.

  4. Skillsets. The rigorous training programs Service members complete expand their skills and competence levels. The ability to learn new skills and apply them appropriately has been proven to enhance productivity in a workplace.

  5. Technologically Advanced. Our US Military applies the latest technologies and advancements needed to keep our country safe. Service members are introduced to these new technologies and must stay abreast of new advancements in both public and private sector.

Perhaps most importantly, hiring veterans is the right thing to do. The men and women who have chosen to serve our country are patriots who made enormous sacrifices to ensure our safety and freedom. By employing military veterans we are thanking them for their service. I am proud each time I present a veteran as a job candidate. I strongly encourage all of my clients to give veterans priority in the hiring process.

Hire a Veteran

Lean Accounting and Leadership Opportunities

The focus of Lean Accounting is to continuously eliminate waste from the transactions, processes, reports, and other accounting methods in an organization that have historically bogged companies down and negatively impacted their decision making process. The evolution of Lean Accounting has resulted in accounting & finance departments placing a greater emphasis on value. From isolating non-value added expenses on P&L statements to using Value Added Ratios, Lean Accounting is increasingly enabling companies to specifically measure value in financial terms and focus on improvement efforts that directly enhance value.

At its core, Lean Accounting is a collection of ideas which group methods such as adaption of just-in-time, identification of constraints, value stream mapping, and many others. This compilation of tools is used by companies to asses things like the true cost of what was produced and enable them make decisions based on data.

Keep in mind that Lean Accounting is at its core, a cultural and people-oriented initiative. The key to making the transition to a Lean organization lies in the fundamental change in corporate culture. By itself, Lean Accounting has limited value, but as the financial basis for the architecture and application of logistics, quality management, factory operations, marketing and pricing, and other critical business functions, Lean Accounting is extraordinarily powerful.

As Lean Accounting continues to make contributions to organizational success, it brings with it leadership roles for accountants and finance professionals. Opportunities such as eliminating non-value-added processes in accounting and reporting, and providing a clearer understanding of profit against product lines, shift perceptions of accounting’s role away from transactions and into consulting.

Lean Accounting increases the availability of financial information in so many different dimensions. As a result, it has caused an increased need for accountants to interpret the information being provided and to be more involved in decision making activities. When coupled with the ability to communicate with and lead personnel, these skills are in high demand and can bring significant management and leadership opportunities. If you have not done so already, make it a point to be well informed on the principles, practices, and advancements in Lean Accounting.

Lean Accounting and Leadership Opportunities

Meeting with a Recruiter

Meeting with a recruiter is very similar to a job interview. The only difference is that you might interview with a hiring manager only once, but if you find the right recruiter it could be a professional connection you maintain your entire career. As a result, you want to make a good impression and be prepared. Below are seven tips to help make your meeting with a recruiter a success:

  1. Arrive a few minutes early so you are calm and collected during the interview. First impressions are important, so make sure yours is positive.

  2. Dress as you would for any job interview. Even though the recruiting agency is not the hiring company, they are evaluating you on behalf of future employers and appearance matters.

  3. Bring an up-to-date and error free resume. Your resume is really a sample of your work. Make sure it is current and has been closely proofread. Attention to detail is an important attribute.

  4. Be open and honest when discussing your experience and skills. Recruiters are very astute at helping candidates market themselves effectively based on what is in demand in the marketplace. Through a positive and direct dialog they may help you uncover skills you forgot to list on your resume as well as key experiences which should be given more prominence.

  5. Engage the recruiter in a professional manner, but be sure your personality shines through. Personal work style and the ability to fit within an organization’s culture are critical elements in the hiring process. Coming across as someone you’re not inhibits the recruiter’s ability to get to know you and find you the ideal position and company culture.

  6. Know what you want in your career. Think of a recruiter as your personal marketing agent. They can’t market you if they are unclear about who you are and what you want. Share your short and long-term career goals and seek their insight into the positions that best help you achieve them.

  7. Understand the business model. Recruiters are paid to find candidates who will bring their clients value. They don’t want to just “place a body.” If a candidate is unsuccessful from the minute they walk in the door, the recruiter will not be paid. Forming a mutually beneficial relationship with a recruiter helps both of you be successful.

After 15+ years in this business, I have heard a number of stories about practices and tactics used by recruiters that are questionable. My advice; find a staffing firm that has been in business for 10 years or more, and does not charge candidates for placement but rather the employer. This will give you a sense of security that the firm has relationships within the business community and will be your partner for the long haul.

Meeting with a Recruiter

The Accountants Confidence Index

Most people are familiar with economic indicators. They are pieces of economic data, usually of macroeconomic scale, that are used by investors to interpret current or future investment possibilities and judge the overall health of our economy. Economic indicators can potentially be anything the investor chooses, but specific pieces of data released by government and non-profit organizations have become widely followed.

An economic indicator is only useful if one interprets it correctly. History has shown strong correlations between economic growth (as measured by GDP) and corporate profit growth. Indicators give us signs along the road, but the best investors will utilize many economic indicators, looking for patterns and verifications within different sets of data.

Commonly used economic indicators include the 12 monthly and quarterly Principal Federal Economic Indicators released by the U.S. Census Bureau and the Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA). These include GDP, Manufacturing and Trade: Inventories and Sales, Monthly Wholesale Trade and New Residential Construction. However, you might not be familiar with some of the non-profit economic indicators, specifically the Accountants Confidence Index.

The Accountants Confidence Index, ACI, published by Accounting Today in partnership with ADP, is a monthly economic indicator that leverages the insight of accountants into the strength and prospects of businesses in the U.S.

The ACI is created from a monthly poll of the Accounting Today Executive Research Council, an online community of more than one thousand tax and accounting professionals, who are asked to provide their short-term and mid-term estimates of the growth prospects of their own firms, their small, midsized and large business clients, and of the U.S. economy as a whole.

The latest Index, released on February 27, 2014, remained positive but uncertain, with a slight boost in the short-term expectations of growth, but a slight decrease in the mid-term expectations. In other words, no immediate change expected.

There were few major moves among the index components; among them were jumps of around two points for both the short- and the mid-term expectations for large businesses -- though they were still contractionary for the immediate future.

For those of us in the accounting and finance world, the ACI is an interesting data point. It provides a view of overall growth and stability from our colleagues as opposed to a federal agency. While no one can predict the future, I do follow the ACI and suggest that you do as well.

The Accountants Confidence Index