Gone are the days of CFOs hiring young finance talent who will sit in a back office all day to crunch numbers. CFOs are seeking to fill their teams with employees who can also communicate and collaborate well with others, and influence others attitudes and behaviors.
Hiring financial talent with these “soft” skills is critical to the long-term success of both new hires and the finance department within an enterprise. This is especially true in today’s environment in which cross-functional teams routinely collaborate to drive better business decisions and outcomes.
However, finding such talent right out of college to fill these roles is a major challenge.
“When people come out of college they tend to have very strong hard skills, but in business the need for those very rapidly begins to wane…As they progress in their careers, they will find that the importance of soft skills will eventually surpass that of technical ones.” – Tom Conine, a Finance professor at Fairfield University.
“…In most sizable companies, work is organized in cross-functional teams. New hires will be placed on these teams, so they must have the skills that will make that team stick together.” – Tom McGuire, managing partner at Talent Growth Advisors
One reason why many CFOs struggle to find such talent is that they haven’t opened up their candidate base. They may be looking for recent local graduates – those that currently live within driving distance of the office, for example – when there is a sea of talent across the U.S. willing to relocate for a job.
Video conferencing is a widely used tool to connect candidates with companies, and gives finance teams the ability to interview applicants based on merit, instead of an increasingly irrelevant parameter like location.
It will be a while before we’re able to walk away from validating those hard skills, so interviewers might use screen-sharing to test the candidate’s familiarity with a balance sheet, for example, or to see examples of past work.
But once the baseline of hard skills has been established, through face-to-face interaction over video, companies can better judge his or her responses from non-verbal cues that can’t be picked up when you screen resumes or have an audio-only interview. Catching an eye-roll when you ask them about team projects, may mean they prefer to be an individual contributor. Seeing a candidate start to shift uncomfortably in his seat when you tell him he’ll also be interviewed by someone in sales or operations may mean he’s not comfortably collaborating with teams outside his own.
And while you’re interviewing the candidate, don’t forget – potential candidates are also screening employers.
According to a recent Accenture Strategy study:
“Optimistic graduates are researching future employers online, using apps, and reading employee reviews on websites to find jobs with the right cultural fit. They aren’t necessarily seeking a Google-like workplace where ping-pong and pizza parties abound (although that’s a draw). They want a workplace where people like what they do and create a positive social atmosphere, and they are willing to relocate or take a lower salary for that type of environment.”
This means that “employers will need to focus on the employee experience they deliver as a differentiator to attract today’s millennials,” says Katherine LaVelle, managing director of Accenture Strategy.
Video collaboration can have a significant, positive impact on employee experience, and that fact is not likely to be lost on the candidate you interview over video. It not only leaves those interviewees with the perception that the organization is more tech-enabled, but also that you have the tools and the culture that will allow them to do their work where and when it works best for them, and that flexibility can mean the difference between a candidate choosing your offer letter, or the one from your competitor.
A Workplace Trends study indicated that 75% of employees listed work-life balance as their top priority. And according to PriceWaterhouseCoopers, flexible work hours comes in second behind only training and development as the benefit millennials value most.
In entry level positions, ambitions for quick advancement run high. And the most gregarious employees are often the ones who learn about open positions first and earn the recommendations of peers. When a company embraces video collaboration, opportunities for career advancement for employees can open up even when being geographically dispersed makes it impossible to strike up a conversation at the water cooler. Video conferencing creates more opportunities for collisions.
Hiring young talent to fulfill finance positions with both hard and soft skills will help the enterprise drive better business decisions and outcomes. Using modern collaboration solutions such as video conferencing can not only help CFOs find the best talent, it can also help those highly sought-after candidates choose your organization as the place where they apply those exceptional skills.