News  & Insights

What is he asking? Tell him he is dreaming

by Greg McKenzie

What does an Australian movie classic such as The Castle have to do with the current state of the Financial Recruitment market?

Well – it’s all about managing expectations.

Expectations in this instance refer to employers and their understanding of, and relationship with, the current candidate market.

Most of us can still remember how difficult it was to recruit skilled finance executives prior to the Global Financial Crisis (GFC). The available talent pool was very shallow, quality candidates were receiving multiple offers, employers had to expedite their recruitment processing times or risk losing a preferred candidate.

The other key feature of this market was that employers realised they could not be overly prescriptive in their “wish list” of desirable skills and personal attributes. If there were ten boxes to be ticked, employers understood that they would have to prioritise the importance of each requirement and be open to considering candidates who only ticked say seven boxes. The implication of this scenario is that employers had to be prepared to invest in an individual employee’s ongoing training and development. This was a “win-win” outcome for both employer and employee.

So why are we reminiscing about the pre-GFC employment market for finance professionals?

Fast forward to 2018. Guess what – just like Arnold Schwarzenegger in The Terminator – that “candidate short” market for finance professionals is back!

To put the above statement in perspective, we are not talking about a shortage in candidate volumes. What we are referring to is a shortage of quality and capability. This is reflected in the current high levels of demand for that elusive employee demographic identified as being “top quartile”.

Top quartile candidates form the basis for organisational succession planning and are the potential leaders of the future. In finance roles, they are the individuals who are capable of business partnering with key stakeholders and driving business performance. Their soft skills are just as important as their technical skills. As per the pre-GFC financial recruitment market, these in-demand candidates are currently receiving multiple employment offers, double-digit percentage salary increases and most importantly, the opportunity to develop their skill base through a mixture of on the job training, mentorship and formal external education.

Informed employers understand the current market and are reverting to hiring high potential candidates who may only tick seven out of ten boxes and are prepared to invest in the ‘win-win” scenario of providing short-term training and mentorship in areas of perceived skills gaps.

Incredibly, there are still less well-informed employers out there that are still insisting on potential employees ticking every box on the wish list. They are rejecting shortlisted, fully vetted, high potential candidates based on their CV alone and are not open to receiving informed advice. They are locked in a different market paradigm which will ultimately see their finance teams under-resourced and at a competitive disadvantage.

How does your organisation’s recruitment abilities within Finance, Accounting, Commerce compare? 

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