The Great Rebalance? Employees aren’t the only ones seeking the perfect match

By Bryan Strickland

While demand for workforce talent remains strong, employers are being more selective in a challenging economic environment.

So, how do those seeking the right talent and those seeking the perfect job improve their chances of making wise selections?

"As the job market evolves, companies are taking a more measured approach to hiring, and workers should prepare to put in greater effort to show their value to potential employers," Paul McDonald, senior executive director of talent solutions for consulting firm Robert Half, said in a press release. "Finding the right role starts with understanding your needs and what companies are looking for in new hires."

Robert Half's survey of more than 2,300 senior managers in the United States revealed a desire to acquire a certain type of employee: one with specific skills who can contribute right away but also one who is interested in being a part of the solution for the long haul.

Senior managers were asked to identify "résumé red flags." Not surprisingly, 74% identified "insufficient skills for the position" as something that gives them pause, but even more mentioned frequent job hopping (77%) and vague descriptions of past jobs (76%) as causes for concern.

Two-thirds said they prefer hiring "specialists with deep subject matter expertise" over those with a more general skill set.

"We're seeing some employers be a bit more discerning about who they hire compared to a year ago," McDonald said. "They want to avoid hiring mistakes and invest in people who want to build their career with the company and can contribute immediately."

It's a turbulent time in the hiring space. A recent PwC survey found that 81% of chief human resources officers are implementing at least one tactic to reduce their workforce. Layoffs and voluntary retirement are among the tactics, but so are performance-based cuts.

In the same survey, 44% of all senior executives said they plan to hire in specific areas to drive growth over the next 12 to 18 months.

The numbers suggest that employers are focused on a rebalancing of sorts: getting not only the right number of employees but also the right employees for their specific situation.

"There's been a lot of push-pull between the employers and employees, and as that threat of an economic downturn looms, we're seeing some really interesting shifts," Julia Lamm, Global Workforce Strategy leader, principal, PwC United States, said in a media call after the survey release. "I think the reality is that the skill set that's available doesn't match the demand.

"… So when you think about what individuals can be doing … it's looking at those skills that are in demand in the future and investing in that, looking for experience in that space."

One possible solution for companies searching for just the right match in accounting and finance — and for employees hoping they can answer the need — is the AICPA's Registered Apprenticeship for Finance Business Partners.

The recently launched program empowers employees to upskill current employees to fit their specific needs, and it gives those in the job market an opportunity to get their foot in the door for roles they might not have all the credentials traditionally required for consideration.

"What makes this so exciting is that this program responds to the trends in the market, and most importantly, it's beginning to solve the No. 1 issue facing these finance and accounting teams — which is acquiring qualified, skilled, and diverse talent," said Tom Hood, CPA/CITP, CGMA, executive vice president–Business Engagement & Growth at the AICPA. "This is the beginning of opening up a new way."

— To comment on this article or to suggest an idea for another article, contact Bryan Strickland at Bryan.Strickland@aicpa-cima.com.

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