It’s no secret: The future of work differs materially from its past. Whereas workers once strived for steady employment and a secure pension – with “lifer” status at a single employer representing the brass ring – they now move fluidly (and willingly) from one company or gig to another, all of which challenges hiring practices today.
And there’s a flip side to that equation. Most large companies no longer boast a workforce made up solely of permanent, salaried employees. Today, full-time staff hires typically make up an organization’s core employee base, but the workforce is rounded out by part-time employees, temps, contractors and even remote freelancers. The corporate landscape has changed, and so too have the expectations of both employees and employers.
In the public accounting space, in particular, many large firms are increasingly turning to contingent labor to fill time-sensitive resource needs. For the employer, it’s a cost-control advantage: contractors are paid at an attractive rate, but the firm only pays them for billable hours – no salary, no benefits. In a seasonal industry, understanding the nature of contingent labor and its variable costs are critical to successfully leveraging this workforce and optimizing revenue.
Admittedly, that’s easier for larger firms. A more robust workforce, greater capital and internal systems that expedite the hiring process create more flexibility and better conditions to accommodate the ebbs and flows of seasonal labor needs. But in this environment, how can smaller firms compete? Here are some ways smaller firms can advance hiring practices in 2021:
- Find recruiters that are experienced in hiring contractors
Recruiting for permanent positions tends to be very different from recruiting contractors. The resumes of contract workers indicate more movement and don’t always contain the quality cues that recruiters look for in good permanent candidates – such as long stints with employers and methodical career progression. Inexperienced recruiters who apply those standards to short-term contract roles won’t have much success. You’ll want to move fast – and because contracting typically moves quicker than permanent hiring – you’ll want recruiters who understand that working on your behalf.
- Work only with industry-seasoned recruiters
Public accounting firms are always looking for specialized talent. Only internal human resource departments and agencies focused on the accounting industry, which understand and have their fingers on the pulse of the market, will be able to consistently deliver high-caliber talent when and where needed – particularly during audit and tax busy seasons, when the war for talent is most intense.
- Enlist the services of a digital talent platform
The Big Four have created their own private talent clouds, such as Gignow and the Flexibility Talent Network, to efficiently tap into the contingent labor market, which has modernized their hiring practices. But few mid-sized and small accounting firms have the scale, capital and technological expertise to build and manage their own private talent clouds. That also requires focus and time to establish awareness and credibility within the highly-dynamic contractor community and to build strong relationships with a critical mass of desirable contractors.
Instead, these other firms should consider partnering with an existing talent cloud – one that is open to all employers and has already done the heavy lifting for them. Talent clouds such as PeopleCaddie have a demonstrable network of proven contractors and a track record for delivering. By building what amounts to a toll bridge to the freelance market, a talent cloud provides firms outside of the Big Four with the ability to meet their seasonal needs without having to overcommit to permanent hires or heavily invest in resources to recruit contractors themselves.
The upshot is developing a robust pipeline of contracts is critical. But more importantly, it takes specialized expertise and investment. Whether it’s an internal recruiter, traditional staffing agency, or PeopleCaddie’s talent cloud, it’s important to develop the capability to consistently deliver talent when it’s most needed.
Want to modernize your hiring practices? Check out how PeopleCaddie’s talent cloud works.