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A top finance recruiter on what types of job candidates stand out in this market

August 31, 2022, 10:31 AM UTC
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Dilok Klaisataporn—Getty Images

Good morning,

Research and surveys continually point to finding and retaining talent dominating a CFO’s list of internal worries. And when it comes to finance and accounting talent, the job for recruiters is getting much harder. But there may be a more successful approach when searching through talent pools.

For some insight on the topic, I had a conversation with Josh Fisher, managing director at DeWinter Group, a San Francisco and Silicon Valley accounting, finance, and IT executive search firm. “For the past few years it has been a difficult environment to hire great finance and accounting folks at all levels,” Fisher told me. “And I think part of that was about 1,500 companies went public in the last three years. That’s just an exorbitant amount of CPAs and accounting professionals and finance leaders that were needed, that weren’t needed prior.” Global IPO activity hit an all-time high in 2021, according to White & Case research. Of course this year, the IPO market has cooled considerably. And companies that are expanding are vying for the same talent, he says.

Fisher, who has more than 18 years of experience at the firm, says recruiting for finance and accounting roles has evolved over the years. “It started with basically having to carve your way out and find leads,” he explains. “You had to ask everybody for names. You had to do lots of extensive research just to find out who you are targeting. And then sort of overnight, LinkedIn became the Facebook of work, and sort of changed that dramatically to where it was no longer a game of finding the people, it was now a game of connecting with them.”

But, “the piece that didn’t change was going from just knowing who they are to creating and building a relationship,” he says. “We’re 20 plus years in the same functional area, with 100 people doing that.” Part of the process now is also “going on LinkedIn and asking for referrals from folks you’ve placed, folks you know, and clients that are in a similar sort of industry.”

Here’s an interesting tip when it comes to recruiting finance and accounting talent: “I think, inevitably, you’re trying to reach for the more passive job-seeker,” Fisher says. “More times than not in finance and accounting, that’s where the best talent is. It’s where you end up finding the folks clients are super excited about.”

So, someone who is aggressively seeking an accounting or finance job might not be the best candidate for a recruiter to choose? “On the agency side, and I would argue internally as well, that’s very often not what they’re looking for,” Fisher says. “More often than not, they’re looking for the person that is doing well and is probably happy, but they have a boss who’s never going to leave, or their company slowed their growth a little bit, or moved offices. Whatever it might be, there’s something that gives an aperture for them to have the conversation.” As recruiters, “we’re not convincing either party, but we can help get that conversation started,” he says.

Once you get the conversion started, that’s where candidates start to differentiate themselves, Fishers says. “I think with finance and accounting, skill sets start to get very similar when you’re looking at certain boxes within the organizations,” Fisher says. “And what really defines a great match is fit and chemistry between their immediate boss and the rest of the executive team. And many times when we’re placing financial leaders what seals many of these partnerships is that they connect with the leadership.”

Though it’s getting harder to recruit finance and accounting talent, Fisher says flexibility is a draw for candidates. And a selling point for finance and accounting careers is financial stability. “You have stability and hyper-growth in the same sort of package,” he says.


See you tomorrow.

Sheryl Estrada
sheryl.estrada@fortune.com

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