Employer vs. Candidate Expectations: Creating Alignment in 2023

Employees vs. candidates

Looking for a job right now feels very similar to trying to buy a house in Ontario.

How so? Home sellers and home buyers have misaligned expectations.

There’s high demand for homes, but buying power has dropped due to increased interest rates and general economic inflation. Sellers are still interested in selling, but are using a 2021/2022 comparisons when pricing their homes.

So what’s happening? Fewer houses are selling. In fact, there was a 55% year-over-year drop in Toronto home sales between January 2022 compared to January 2023. But there’s still a high demand for housing.

What does it have to do with finance recruitment?

The talent market feels very similar. As a finance recruiter talking to business leaders and candidates every day, I’m seeing a similar scenario daily.

Candidates are the home sellers. And they’re not desperate to sell because:

  1. Candidates know exactly what salaries their friends were offered in 2022, and they want more. They can also use several online tools, like levels.fyi, to learn about compensation averages in different industries and roles.
    They’ve been working from home for years now and most have little desire to come into the office 5 days a week (or 4, or 3, or…).
  2. Many of them are employed in pretty good jobs. They may not be perfect, but it feels like home.
  3. They might even try to use your not-so-great offer as an excuse to ask for a raise. Counteroffer acceptance is at an all-time high.

On the other hand, the businesses are the home buyers with big expectations. Their buying power has gone down, but they’re still trying to buy a 5-bedroom home on a townhouse budget

This isn’t a perfect analogy. There are obviously different conditions affecting the job and housing markets. But the point is that there are thousands of jobs out there for candidates and hiring managers need to have realistic candidate expectations to find top talent.

Candidate expectations versus employer desires not in alignment

Businesses looking to hire strong accounting or finance talent need to have realistic candidate expectations.

  • Looking for a BIG 4 experienced public accounting profile with 3-4 years of experience and need them to start before April? That’s going to cost you a premium.
  • Decided that you are an “on-site” culture and somebody to come into your office 5 days a week? That’s a premium and you’ve reduced your candidate pool by 75%, if not more.
  • Want a great candidate who already has 2 years of FP&A experience to do an FP&A analyst job? You will be waiting for a long time as competition is bidding up titles in addition to salaries AND the candidate’s 3 other offers all come with a manager title.

There are many amazing candidates who still want to make a move, but companies need to have realistic expectations and remember that negotiations are a two-way street. 

Hiring managers need to be asking themselves:

  • Does this role really require somebody to be in the office more than twice a week? How might we get this role to be 100% remote?  
  • What kind of flexibility and benefits can you offer to make this role more enticing?
  • What kind of mentorship and growth opportunities can you provide to ensure they love working there?
  • Is there a progressive title and growth plan that you can create?
  • And, if you’ve found a great candidate, don’t forget to tell them how excited you are to work with them

Truly, a little enthusiasm can go a long way in helping snag a great candidate!

I also want to emphasize that this isn’t all about money either. Candidates are also prioritizing learning and growth opportunities and want flexible, hybrid work options. If you’re not offering any of those things, you’re going to struggle to find good people. 


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