Finding the right fit Featured

8:00pm EDT September 25, 2008

If you have recurring back pain, would you go to a general practitioner or would you go to a back specialist? Likewise, if a company needs to hire a forensic accountant or other financial specialist, it should not outsource the task to a generalist search firm. A more logical approach would be to partner with a service firm dedicated to financial staffing to complete the hiring process.

“Make sure you find someone who specializes in the area of expertise that fits your needs,” says Robert Gaglione, the managing director of Skoda Minotti Financial Staffing. “A ‘one person fits all’ search process simply does not work.”

Smart Business spoke with Gaglione to learn more about the value of working with financial staffing specialists, what to look for when hiring them and what benefits accrue from doing so.

Why should a company delegate the financial professional hiring process to an outside firm?

The hiring process for a financial specialist is conducted most effectively by someone who is well versed in that specialist’s field. Turning the selection process over to experienced specialists saves the company time, money and effort. It also results in the hiring of the candidate whose credentials best match the company’s needs, culture, etc.

What can a financial staffing specialist add to the hiring process that a company’s own personnel cannot?

For one thing, staffing specialists look beyond a candidate’s tangible assets. Generalists are very good at determining some of those intangibles, such as why a person might be a good personality fit for a large company but not for a small one. But, when it comes to the details of a particular position, staffing specialists have an edge.

For example, if a company is looking for a Sarbanes-Oxley (SOX) professional, staffing specialists who have worked with SOX for years can get into the specifics with candidates during interviews. A generalist firm might not be able to do that. Remember, people can put whatever they want into their resumes, but interviewers have to go beyond those ‘bullet points’ to identify who the best qualified candidate for a job may be.

Specialists can also write and place the ads for jobs with more specificity, and follow up on them administratively. Plus, they can recruit people who are not even looking for jobs because of their extensive contacts in the specialty. In short, they epitomize the old saying, ‘time is money’ as far as clients are concerned. Financial staffing specialists save them both — in large quantities.

What criteria should a company consider when selecting a financial staffing firm?

The companies that really get it right — and the ones that have the lowest amount of turnover — are the companies that match their financial staffing firm with their own goals. One criterion for a company is to seek referrals from trusted sources that have had good experiences with a financial staffing firm. Also, find a firm that specializes in the specific area of expertise for which the company is hiring. A final criterion is to partner with a staffing firm that has a quality process in place. For instance, avoid a firm that takes a job order and simply feeds candidates whose names are taken from a database that has been in existence since the invention of the abacus. Look for a service firm that wants to interview the client to determine the exact tangible, intangible and technical parameters of a search, and which selects and presents candidates based on them specifically.

How does a staffing firm differentiate between A-level and lower-tier financial specialist candidates?

The firm looks at a variety of qualifications, starting with knowledge of the field and technical expertise, schools and certifications, and where the candidates honed their skills. For example, financial professionals who have worked in public accounting tend to have more diverse experience than their counterparts who have not.

Generally speaking, the analysis goes well beyond the candidates’ skill sets. Proficient financial staffing specialists look at the candidates’ exposure to different companies, different processes, different IT structures and different industries. They look closely at the candidates’ experiences in looking at how different companies have done different things. The candidates’ diversity of experience are key factors in the selection process. People who have done more and been exposed to more tend to be more promotable — and are exactly the types of candidates financial staffing specialists are best qualified to present.

ROBERT GAGLIONE is the managing director of Skoda Minotti Financial Staffing. Reach him at robgaglione@skodaminotti.com or (440) 605-7295.