It’s a hot job market now for accounting and finance professionals. This is great news if you’re job-hunting — but not so great if you’re responsible for payroll staffing.
The 2018 Robert Half Salary Guide for Accounting and Finance highlights payroll as one of next year’s in-demand areas. In particular, organizations seek experienced payroll managers, especially ones who have their CPP (Certified Payroll Professional). With plentiful job openings but not enough skilled payroll candidates, what’s a hiring manager to do?
Here are six ways to refine your recruiting strategies so you can take your payroll staffing to a higher level to attract and hire the professionals your company needs:
1. Know what skills you need in this role
Unless you plan to provide training, you’re probably looking for someone with competencies in data entry, payroll processing software and systems. Excel expertise is in demand, and in some areas, multi-state and international payroll processing experience is a must.
As Carlie Boese, an Accountemps branch manager, points out, payroll clerks and payroll managers must also possess the right soft skills, such as these:
- Customer service — “Payroll is one of the most thankless jobs out there. No one goes to the payroll department on pay day and thanks them for their check. They only hear about it if something goes wrong!”
- A solutions-oriented approach — “When there is a problem or a complaint, you need someone with the right attitude who can take that issue and think, ‘What can I do to solve this?’”
- Dependability and attention to detail — “Payroll is a deadline-driven position that affects their coworkers’ livelihood, so error rates must be low.”
2. Offer above-average salaries
If you’re having trouble recruiting skilled payroll professionals, the problem may lie with the wages. Compare what you’re offering with the latest local averages, which you can find using the Salary Guide and our Salary Calculator.
Let’s say you’re a manager in Las Vegas and need to hire a payroll supervisor. The salary midpoint for that role is $71,000. A candidate with less-than-typical experience may be willing to accept less than that, but not someone with a rich work history, CPP credential and stellar technical abilities.
3. Sweeten the deal with extras
Money is not always the most important factor to a payroll job seeker, says Dora Onyschak, Robert Half metro market manager and vice president.
“Find out what is important to your top candidate,” she suggests. “Is it a flexible work schedule? An easygoing work culture? Extra time off? The ability to work from home? There are many nonmonetary benefits that an organization can offer to overcome not offering top dollar.”
Many payroll functions today are accessible via cloud-based platforms, which means staff don’t need to be physically in the office 100 percent of the time. The more flexible your company can be with scheduling and work locations, the more job seekers will be tempted to say “yes” to your job offer and keep their motivation in the workplace.
Also consider your overall compensation package. The typical insurance package — medical, dental, vision, life, disability — and retirement plan are the minimum. Can you offer more? Some companies are getting imaginative with benefits, ranging from pet insurance to sabbaticals.
4. Search from multiple fronts
Courtney Angelo, Accountemps senior staffing executive, says she recommends a variety of recruiting tactics to find qualified candidates, from posting job openings online to broadening your network of referrals. As Angelo suggests, “Good people know good people.”
Other recruiting tactics she’s used? Take advantage of your company’s social media outlets, like Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook, to maximize your employer brand, advertise job openings and form relationships with potential candidates.
Also, go passive. Many top-notch payroll professionals aren’t actively looking to move on but would be interested in finding out more about cool opportunities. To find these passive candidates, step up your networking efforts at seminars and professional conferences.
You might even try recruiting from within. Who better to serve as your next payroll manager than your sharp payroll clerk? When you promote existing staff, you save significant time and resources otherwise spent on recruiting and training. You’re also creating an environment where excellence and hard work are rewarded, which boosts morale.
5. Move faster with payroll staffing
Most employers take their time when deciding who to bring onboard. After all, hiring the right people is important when the cost of a bad hire is high. But if you wait too long, your first choice may lose interest and accept another job offer.
In Phoenix, where Angelo works, unemployment is at its lowest in 10 years, with job creation at its highest. It’s not unusual for top talent to get multiple job offers, so she warns, “Employers will lose out on top candidates if they drag their feet.”
One solution is to streamline the hiring process. Keep the committee on the small side so you’ll have fewer calendars to coordinate. Try to schedule all interviews over one or two days, using video conferencing if necessary, and then make a decision quickly. And rather than checking references and backgrounds before making a formal job offer, flip it around: Make the offer contingent upon satisfactory checks.
6. Use temporary professionals
You need a new payroll clerk or manager either because someone has left or the company is growing. Either way, as long as that vacancy remains unfilled, existing employees have to pick up the slack. Taking on extra duties can lead to stress and wear down an otherwise-productive team.
An interim payroll specialist can help you get through a rough patch. Another option is to bring in someone with a temp-to-hire strategy. That way, you can quickly fill a vacancy without having to invest much in the way of time or effort. If the payroll worker proves to be an invaluable addition to your team, with the right skill set and the right fit, you can quickly offer a full-time position.
It’s a candidate market for accounting and finance professionals, especially when it comes to skilled payroll clerks and managers. So scrutinize your recruiting strategies, revamp them if necessary, and start landing the workers you need.
This article was first published on the Robert Half International blog. Accountemps, a Robert Half company, is the world’s first and largest specialized staffing firm for temporary accounting, finance and bookkeeping professionals. Accountemps has 325 locations worldwide. More resources, including job search services and the Accountemps blog, can be found at roberthalf.com/accountemps.