The discussion was co-hosted by expert Paul McDonald of Robert Half and ASWA executive director Lee Lowery. The panelists included Kelly Battles, chief financial officer of Redwood City, Calif.-based Host Analytics; Raymond Castonguay, senior vice-president, finance at Toronto, Ontario-based Morneau Shepell; and Vivian Moller, chief financial officer of Chicago-based HY Connect.
Key points from the discussion included how many employers have reached the limit of what they can accomplish with existing resources. McDonald said the economic downturn in the United States and Canada created a shortage of talent in many corporations.
“Hiring managers who have tried to find and hire good people know how hard it is now. Many jobs are going unfilled because they can’t find the right and best candidates,” McDonald said.
Now those companies are seeking professionals who can fill roles that will complement their existing teams and support expansion. Companies are hiring in core financial positions, with shortages existing for business systems specialists, accountants and financial analysts.
“Top job candidates don’t remain on the market long these days. The order of the day is to move quickly on these top performers if you see them,” McDonald said.
Companies are also finding they need to reward and recognize their best employees before it is too late and they start looking elsewhere.
“Retention is all about good management,” Battles said. “First and foremost, you have to hire the right people.” She added that building culture within a company is everyone’s job – not just the responsibility of human resources.
Raising the Bar
Today’s hiring environment has moved beyond stellar technical and financial abilities. Candidates have to possess soft skills, including solid written and oral communication skills, and set themselves apart by showing a willingness to problem solve, set a career path and lead change.
“It is not just adequate to go out and get the degree any longer and sit in your cube once hired and do your job,” McDonald said. “You have to have the whole package to get the job and get ahead.”