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The Great Talent Shortage of 2021: Hiring a Consultant to Help

I’ve been recruiting in the San Francisco Bay Area since 2001. I’ve lived through the dot-com bust of 2001, the financial crisis of 2008, and most recently the Covid-19 pandemic. I have seen a lot of economic ups and downs throughout my career, and I have never experienced an economy and hiring environment like 2021.

2021 is a time filled with possibility, recovery, and new horizons… a welcome change from 2020. While many companies struggled to keep their businesses afloat over the past twelve months, many of our clients didn’t just survive the year — they thrived. 

However, during their growth they didn’t feel the freedom to hire for their needs in real-time. With all of the unknowns, they were hesitant to make new hires. Now, as those companies become more comfortable with the economic landscape, they need to make up for lost time. There’s work to do and a backlog of professionals needed to get the job done.

But that’s easier said than done. 

“Bottom line: For companies looking for a permanent hire right now, it’s taking longer than before, partly because candidates just aren’t as willing to make a change.”

Why Jobs Remain Open

Companies are finally ready to hire again — but they’re having a hard time finding the right candidates. It’s a candidate’s market right now, and here’s why: 

Growth

Many of our clients, especially those in the cloud infrastructure and biotech industries, experienced unprecedented growth in 2020. However, even with the growth, companies were scared to hire because the future was still so uncertain. 

In 2021, companies are becoming more optimistic and confident in the economic environment. However, they not only have the hiring needs of the present, but they also have a backlog of hires to make from last year. As a result, there’s a higher volume of finance and accounting roles to fill than I have seen in the past 20 years. 

SPAC Market 

There’s also an increase in the SPAC market. Companies are speeding through their funding rounds and going public via SPAC in a short period of time. With these rapid changes, they need accounting and finance professionals to get them public company ready immediately.

Local Talent Shortage

The majority of our clients who have remained in the Bay Area still prefer to hire their finance and accounting teams locally. While many people are choosing to live and thrive in the Bay Area, any news source could tell you that some people are moving away to live in lower-cost communities. Consequently, the talent pool of local professionals is shrinking. 

Venture Capital Funding

There’s also plenty of venture capital money flowing. Many of our clients have successfully raised Series-A, B, and C rounds of financing in the first quarter of 2021. Now, they have the money to make hires. 

As a result of these major factors, there’s a significant gap between hiring needs and candidate availability. 

“Growth means new systems and processes. Many of our clients are hiring consultants to help with a variety of special projects ranging from system implementations to revenue accounting projects.”

Why Hiring Is So Difficult  

Filling these positions isn’t impossible, but it will be difficult in light of the hiring challenges companies face. 

Companies that have moved to 100% remote work now have the opportunity to tap into a talent market they’ve never been able to utilize before. As a benefit, they have more candidates in the talent pool, but the choice can quickly feel overwhelming. Narrowing the search and identifying the best candidates can take a while. Because of this, positions are staying open longer.  

Once they make a hire, these companies are continuing to learn how to navigate the complexities of remote work. They’re figuring out how to most effectively onboard remotely and the logistics of working in different time zones.

These challenges are compounded by the imbalance of supply and demand in the job market. While the demand for accounting and finance professionals continues to rise, people are still hesitant to make a change because of the challenges of onboarding remotely. Plus, many finance and accounting professionals are facing too many personal challenges (balancing parenting and homeschooling with other responsibilities) to even think about making a job move. 

Bottom line: For companies looking for a permanent hire right now, it’s taking longer than before, partly because candidates just aren’t as willing to make a change.

What Works Now

While these difficulties aren’t disappearing anytime soon, interim consultants are working to solve a number of these challenges. For companies rapidly progressing through fundraising, IPOs, or developing systems to accommodate growth, a consultant may be the perfect solution. 

We’ve seen these consultants help specifically in these situations:  

1. Fundraising

Companies feeling optimistic as they head into their Series-B round of financing may need additional support with fundraising. Likely, the CEO needs someone to help raise that round but doesn’t have 3-6 months to wait on the right permanent hire. In this case, they can hire an interim CFO to help with the fundraising while also conducting a permanent search. 

2. Going Public

Our clients who are going public are hiring teams of operational accounting, SEC reporting, and technical accounting consultants to help them get through the IPO. 

3. Implementing New Systems 

Growth means new systems and processes. Many of our clients are hiring consultants to help with a variety of special projects ranging from system implementations to revenue accounting projects. 

Hiring good consultants can be challenging, but now that we have access to hiring outside of the Bay Area, it’s slightly easier for us to find high-quality consultants that meet these specific needs. 

Whether you need an interim to relieve the current workload until you find the right permanent hire, or you’re facing a rapid change and need temporary support through the transition, accounting and finance consultants may be just what you need to get you through the next few months. 

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