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Gardner's Market Update Q4 2014

Welcome to Fall! We hope yours is off to a great start. As we have predicted for the last three quarters, it appears that the candidate driven marketplace - where the supply of opportunities outweighs the number of candidates looking for work - is in full swing in the areas of Finance, Accounting, Tax and Audit. This is especially true at staff levels.

Gardner's Market Update for this quarter covers three interesting areas including the greatest challenges ahead for hiring managers as we venture into Q4 and Q1 of 2015 as well as a list of the most common reasons candidates decide to leave their current employers and seek new job opportunities. Lastly, we discuss the one type of candidate you should never consider interviewing, let alone hiring, especially in today's supply/demand marketplace.

As we head into the tail end of 2014, all of the challenges we've discussed each quarter since the beginning of the year are still very real obstacles to hiring. These obstacles include the sheer lack of candidates looking for work at staff levels of hiring, candidates seeking internal promotions with their current employers which, in turn, keeps them from exploring the market, commuting issues, fear of the unknown, the pervasive “devil you know” attitude as well as public accounting firms successfully keeping employees on board even after they've received their CPA certification.

Could there be any other obstacles to challenge those of us looking to hire? Funny you should ask! The three greatest additional issues facing hiring managers as we head into year-end are 1) the fact that it is year end! This is arguably the busiest time of year for most employees with a calendar year end and finding time to interview isn't a top priority or just isn't realistic 2) we're in raise review and year-end bonus time at most companies. Year-end bonuses are now commonly ‘granted' in December but not paid out until sometime in the March time frame. This helps employers to keep prospective candidates off the market until the end of Q1 when employees collect their bonuses for the prior year. And lastly, 3) if you are looking to hire candidates at the non-managerial levels (think staff/senior accountants and financial/senior financial analysts) you have competition ad naseum these days. Candidates at these levels are getting multiple offers and strong counteroffers are a matter of course. Putting your best foot forward from a compensation standpoint and considering those candidates who are truly ready to leave their current jobs will serve you well in this marketplace. Low ball offers or working with candidates who aren't really committed to moving on will leave you empty handed at the end of the day.

The bottom line: if the challenges of hiring talent in a supply/demand market aren't enough to make you cringe, hiring managers are now contending with these three new obstacles to hiring. Fun times!

Why Do Candidates Look To Leave In The First Place?
As we mentioned in our last newsletter, Gardner Resources Group just celebrated our 18th year in business and with all those years under our belt, you can imagine the thousands upon thousands of candidates we have interviewed (and the stories we could tell!! Seriously, we cannot make this stuff up!)

Our years of experience have given us the opportunity to identify the main reasons candidates look to leave their current employers. We spend a lot of our time “kicking the tires” in this area. This has served us well as one of the touch points we use to help assess for whom we can (and can't) be a good resource. Through our process, we've determined that there are, for lack of better words, 'valid' and 'invalid' reasons for seeking employment. While there are many reasons candidates give for seeking a new position, listed below are the most common ones we hear:

1. ”This commute is killing me!" It is no coincidence that as the economy improves, the traffic increases exponentially. Many candidates are adverse to long commutes and sitting in traffic. For a whole host of reasons, candidates want or need to work closer to home and will seek out opportunities that allow them to do so.

2. Wrong Cultural Fit. "I'd rather poke burning rods of fire in my eyes than spend another day at this organization." Yup. This is a direct quote from someone we placed recently. We have discussed this at length in our prior newsletters and know how important cultural fit is to keeping employees happy. There are many reasons why a fit works for some but not for others. It can be a mismatch between a hiring manager and an employee where they just don't click or see eye to eye (burning rods of fire notwithstanding.) We've heard candidates say they were told one thing about a culture only to join the organization and find out the culture isn’t exactly as advertised. Often, especially after a recession, changes in management create a different corporate culture which doesn't always resonate with employees. Additionally, companies that merge often end up with a very different feel and culture, one in which the employees of one side or the other feel that they no longer fit in.

3. Unemployed or Underemployed. The first reason needs no explanation. Underemployed candidates are a different story. These folks often took the first job they were offered when our economy hit the skids. They are now looking to a stronger job market to help get them back to the level they were at before the recession hit. In addition, we often hear from this group that they are bored and there aren't any new responsibilities they can take on at their current organizations. This sentiment is reiterated in #5 below.

4. Work/Life Balance. This reason often goes hand in hand with commute. Those clients who have kept their headcount low during the economic downturn and haven't increased their staff as the market improved have often added more responsibilities in an effort to increase productivity per employee. Those same employers now risk losing their employees to a competitor who can offer a better work/life balance.

5. Lack of Upward Mobility/Growth. As the economy has improved and as more jobs become available, those candidates that can't grow with their current employer often believe they have a better chance of climbing the ladder at another company

The Candidate You Should Never Interview

There is only one reason we have consistently determined to be a poor one when looking for a new job. When we meet a candidate who says they are really happy at work, that they love their job, love their co-workers and their manager, that they couldn’t have asked for a better corporate culture, that they have a great work/life balance and the commute is perfect BUT the only thing that they want is to make more money……this is a huge red flag and a show stopper for us when we pre-screen candidates.

Why shouldn’t you entertain this candidate? Consider this: as the 'new' employer you would have to replicate all the things this employee loves about their current job WHILE also boosting their salary significantly (the only reason they would consider leaving in the first place) to get them to leave their current job. And, if by some chance you were able to check off all of their boxes and potentially provide them with all of the things they love and have with their current employer, get ready for the counter-offer battle of battles.

Take a step back and look at this scenario from this point of view: As the ‘new’ employer, you have no real history or track record with this candidate. He likes you, he likes what he has heard about your company and the opportunity but he doesn't really know you like he knows his current employer (who, did we mention, he loves??) And, he or she isn't giving his notice to you. He's giving it to people that he again, loves. Because you don't currently work with the new hire every day, unlike his current employer, you won’t get the opportunity once he gives notice to continually convince him day in and day out to come join you at your organization. Guess who does get that opportunity and will be relentless in reminding him of the great thing he's got going? We could go on and on with more examples that lead to a low probability that this candidate will leave his current employer to come work for your firm but we think you get the picture. The problem here is that you weren't on a level playing field from the get go. It isn't that your company isn’t wonderful or that the job opportunity isn’t fantastic. It's just that this candidate wasn't unhappy in the first place. All the really important criteria that people want in their jobs was already in place for him before he started exploring other opportunities.

In a market with a shallow candidate pool, current managers are going to fight hard to keep employees on their team and chances are likely that they are going to win this battle with their happiest employees. And how? By reminding him of all the great things the company offers him (which he already knows and believes) AND by giving him the increase in pay he wanted in the first place. At the end of the day, you've spent a lot of time and energy to help this candidate 'create competition' and get an increase in salary, which is the only reason he was looking to leave in the first place. A huge disclaimer here: it is not a bad thing to want to earn more money! But it's the wrong reason to look for a new job if that's the only reason a person gives for wanting to explore the job market.

With these words of wisdom for Q4 2014, we wish all of you the very best for the rapidly approaching holiday season and New Year. If your organization is looking for talent in Q4 or anytime during 2015, please reach out to us with any questions you may have or to engage us in a search for perm or contract hires.

If you know anyone interested in seeking new employment, we would be happy to have a conversation with them to see if we can be a good resource in helping them continue to shape their careers.

Best Wishes,

Dina Gardner and the Gardner Resources Group Team

Dina Gardner, President
[email protected]
Gardner Resources Group
508-485-3120 or 508-626-1399
Fax: 781-444-4405
View my LinkedIn Profile
Connect via Skype at Dina.Gardner1661
*Recruiting Accounting & Finance Professionals *

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