The Talent Games: Maintaining A Competitive Edge Throughout the Hiring Process

March 27, 2018

An inside look into how low unemployment rates, decreasing talent supply, and shifting generational values are changing how employers need to approach hiring accounting & finance talent.

We’ve all seen, or at least heard of, the movie the Hunger Games... the one where Katniss Everdeen battles the improbable odds of hunting her fellow comrades until only she remains. Beyond the breathtaking imagery, this extremely profitable movie series depicted a metaphorical plot-line surrounding social and generational change. Now you may be asking yourself, ‘What does this have to do with my accounting and finance hiring processes? My accountants are not running around battling to the death for their promotions?!’ True. They aren’t battling internally for limited promotions because they are leaving to explore the ten or so new opportunities available within the market.

At Oggi Professional Services, we have coined this phenomenon to be ‘The Talent Games’. Supply for qualified candidates is decreasing, demand is increasing, and on top of it all generational values are very different than those of their predecessors. Whereas most call the recent trend a ‘War on Talent’, we believe it is less of a war and more of a revolution requiring a shift in corporate game strategy.

That being said, don’t throw your hands up just yet. Our team at Oggi works with hiring managers every day facing this exact dilemma and have outlined several strategies to ‘odds are ever in your favor’  when recruiting your company’s next accounting or finance professional.

The New Gamemakers​
The three major forces slowly transforming the current hiring market: low unemployment, decreasing supply, and shifting generational values.

National unemployment sunk to 4.1% in February this year.1 Which is great for the economy, but has created new challenges hiring managers. In the greater Twin Cities area alone, unemployment rates dropped to 3.4% and stand at around 1% for accounting and finance professionals.2 This means the current supply of qualified professionals is extraordinarily low.

The second factor weighing on recent trends is a projected decrease in future supply of qualified professionals. Colleges are not graduating accounting and finance professionals to meet the current demand in the marketplace.

Lastly, the generational values associated with millennials are vastly different than those of their predecessors. Incentives which advanced organizations in the past no longer drive the current workforce. For example, the incoming workforce does not battle with peers internally or wait 10 years for promotion opportunities. They would much rather leave to explore the ten or so new opportunities available within the market. Additionally, where baby boomers live to work and consider work to be an exciting adventure, Generation Y (or millennials) generally views working as a means to an end. Generation Y values work-life balance because they are only working so that they can live full, personal lives.

Happy Hunger Games!
Step #1: Rethink the Hiring Process 
The first big step to changing a corporate hiring strategy is to rethink your hiring process and develop a good offensive game plan to stay alive. Candidates are no longer interviewing with one or two companies before making their next career move. They are interviewing at multiple companies within the Twin Cities market to assess all potential career options. This makes a candidate’s first impression of your company vital if you decide to extend an offer later on. A hiring manager must put on their ‘sales’ hat during the first interview. By promoting or selling the company and the role at the earliest stages of the hiring process, the organization will have leverage if they choose to move forward and extend an offer.

Step #2: Assess Salary Structure  As we mentioned before, demand for qualified accounting and finance talent currently exceeds supply. The result, demand for qualified professionals exceeding supply and in turn the pricing for talent is rising as well. In 2017 average earnings within the private sector across Minneapolis increased 1.1% and key indicators anticipate a 3% increase in 2018 combined with variable pay incentives due to decreasing unemployment rates.

To maintain a competitive advantage when hiring, companies must assess their current salary structure. Don’t rely on online salary guides which utilize historic data and averages. Talk to a qualified friend or reach out to an accounting or finance staffing agency to ask what a realistic salary offer should be for the position you are hiring for and the caliber of professional you are seeking. Although researching salaries can be time consuming, ultimately it can position you ahead of your competitors and make your organization viable if you are seeking to recruit the best in your market. I promise you, a little work on the front end with save you from frustration during the process.

Step #3: Develop Corporate Culture  The third step of your game plan is to assess corporate culture. A candidate’s perception of a company’s culture begins before they walk through the doors. What can they find about the company on Google? How can it be perceived through social media? How do candidates perceive culture as they walk through the door? The incoming workforce wants to walk into open, modern, and naturally lit workspaces where people appear to be happy with the work they are doing. If they walk into an environment that needed updating 10 years ago with no windows and everyone looks depressed, they will most likely develop a poor perception of what an average work day looks like. In addition to corporate appearance, qualified candidates are looking beyond just salary and compensation. They are seeking to understand the fringe benefits, such as a company’s stance on work-life balance.

Even if you cannot adjust corporate culture immediately, it is a great idea to sit down with current employees on your team and ask them what they like most about working for your organization and what could be improved to make the work environment better, and thus more desirable. Are you flexible? Do you empower your employees? Develop a plan to implement some of the recommendations and jot down a few of the responses as selling points.

Long Story Short
Companies across the Minneapolis/St. Paul area are struggling to identify, hire and retain qualified accounting and finance talent. Demand for professionals exceeds current and future supply, and candidates’ expectations vastly differ from the generations that came before. To ensure your company maintains a competitive hiring strategy, you will need to rethink the way in which you approach the hiring process as a hiring manager. Forward thinking, salesmanship and research will provide companies with a strategy for success over the long-term.

If you are seeking advice or would like to learn more, please visit us online at oggipro.com or contact our offices to speak with one of our team members.


1 https://www.forbes.com/sites/maggiemcgrath/2018/01/05/unemployment-rate-holds-steady-at-4-1-as-u-s-adds-148000-jobs-in-december/#dbde36237de0
https://www.bls.gov/news.release/empsit.nr0.htm

2 https://mn.gov/deed/data/current-econ-highlights/state-national-employment.jsp