Why Finance VPs Can’t Catch a Break in the Startup Market

There’s an interesting hiring trend happening in the bay area that’s left hundreds of qualified candidates frustrated. Small fast­-growing companies demand operational accountants, but directors and VPs of finance find themselves unable to obtain jobs at start­up companies. Why? In short, it’s not you, it’s them.

The Imbalance of Finance & Accounting Jobs

Since the “recovery” of 2010, the finance vs. accounting job markets have progressed at drastically different rates, primarily due to increased influence and presence of pre­IPO companies. In fact, there’s roughly a 1:12 ratio of finance and accounting positions, respectively. Why? The smaller companies don’t need robust financial planning and analysis; in fact, they don’t really need anyone working full­time in this area until they’re about to go public. Once that happens, they may hire one finance position, most likely a director of FP&A. Meanwhile, they’ve hired probably 8 to 15 different people in the accounting organization, resulting in the aforementioned imbalance of job opportunities. So what does that mean for Finance VPs hoping to continue their career at a fast-growing startup? They’ll need to stay open-minded as the job search begins.

The Search for High Level Finance Positions

Looking for a high level finance position can be extremely disappointing. Let’s say you have a secure job at a Fortune 500 company and decide, “Wow! The market’s hot. I want to leverage my experience. Now is the time for me to make a move to a young company!” Unfortunately, this search may screech to a halt as quickly as it started. The jobs just aren’t there. Remember, it’s not you; it’s the market. Simply, the experience you have isn’t as valued in a young company. That means there may need to be a Plan B or at least more patience with Plan A. If you’re going to make a move, you’ll have to be open minded; the market demands flexibility.

Job Market Supply and Demand

The market will change and open up again, but it hasn’t yet. There’s a macroeconomic issue occurring with supply and demand because there are few job openings due to the lack of high level finance positions. Therefore when a position becomes available, it’s highly competitive. Consequently, hiring companies can afford to be extremely selective when searching for the perfect candidate. Companies expect candidates to have extensive experience in a large, mature tech company in addition to a stint in a notable mid­size company. Candidates who lack time in the hyper­growth environment aren’t even considered. It’s tempting to take this rejection personally, but it’s just a fact of today’s financial job climate.

Now Is The Time To Build Your Network

At BVOH, we’re asked multiple times per week how people in finance positions can find these high level jobs. Our answer to them: focus as much on your network as your resume. “It’s not what you know, it’s who you know” may be cliché, but it carries a significant element of truth. Those who obtain the coveted upper level finance positions often do so because of their network. Perhaps your resume won’t be enough to get in the door, but personal connections can make up for that. A strategic referral can help you land an interview where you’d otherwise be lost in a stack of resumes. We recommend you start by discreetly optimizing your network so the right people know you’re in the market for a high level financial position. Then, augment your search with a trusted recruiting firm or two. Remember, this process has evolved over the past 10 years. Today, instead of solely relying on your recruiter, you must self-­advocate. Once you’re ready to add a recruiting firm to the search process, give us a call. We’ll help you position yourself as a qualified candidate, and ensure you’re on the right track to finding a job you’ll love.

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