With 2 to 3 percent unemployment, the market is booming—and while that’s good news, it can create challenges to source and retain talent. Ken Heisler, managing director and Sheryl Caspers, business development director, are part of Salo’s direct-hire division in Minneapolis. Here’s what they have to say about the current talent landscape, and how certain strategies can help companies work smarter and happier.


Ken Heisler
Managing Director,
CPA, Inactive Certificate
Sheryl Caspers
Business Development Director


What does the finance employment landscape look like today in Minneapolis?

Ken: It is a tight candidate market right now. If you are in a mid to senior level accounting or finance role, you’re doing well and very likely have a job. Because of this, companies are experiencing a lot of challenges finding suitable talent for their open roles.

Ken: In addition to the tight candidate market, we’re seeing a change in employee expectations from their companies. Over the last 20+ years, public accounting firms have been recruiting engines, but now employees – led by the millennial generation – have offered a different view on work/life balance that differs from the old model. Employers have realized they need to make adjustments to their business and benefits to retain their talent.

How can clients get ahead of their talent challenges – especially in direct hire, which can often be a long, complex process?

Ken: A couple of ways. The first is contingent search. With a contingent search, there’s no risk to the client. The company can hire one or multiple firms to find qualified candidates for just one or several roles. We will present candidates to the company and they only pay if and when they find the right fit. The second is retained search. This approach is more of a longer-standing relationship between the staffing firm and company where we assist the company in their end-to-end sourcing process. We meet with the company’s leadership, write job specs and go through our network to find candidates that really fit the job description. We save clients time by screening and choosing just a few, developing their profiles and presenting them to the client. We’re also available whenever they need us for a position, so this often is an ongoing, strategic relationship. With either option, the client is able to save time and money by leveraging our expertise in the industry to present them qualified candidates.

Can you provide an example of how this works?

Ken: We were working with a $700 million private-equity company that was looking to bring in a new CFO. For the most part, they had been looking on their own, reviewing internal resources and networking to find the right fit. They spent a year going through candidates and interviewing. Eventually, they hired us. Within two months, we had identified a CFO with right qualities and fit, whom they hired. Three months later, the new CFO was instrumental in selling the organization and remains there today after the acquisition.

Sheryl: Here’s another example: We had a $60 million company with a relatively new CEO. The company was moving in a different direction and needed a new CFO. We selected a top-five candidate list, helped them narrow it down to two for further interviewing, and they ended up hiring one of them. We had that job filled in two months time because we knew how to match the right combination of hard and soft skills with the company’s culture.

Ken: When we take on a search, we take two to four weeks to build candidate lists, network and weed through the options to present resumés and profiles to the client. Then we invite you to come to our office to host interviews and meet the candidates, all in one shot. We get feedback from both parties immediately and winnow down to future rounds of interviews and an eventual hire.

Sheryl: It simplifies and expedites the whole process.

What are signs that a company may need hiring assistance?

Sheryl: If you’re having frequent turnover or having to post jobs over and over and again, you should evaluate the process.

Ken: We want to help you do the right thing—some companies are under-compensating or not providing up-to-date benefits, so we help educate based on our knowledge of and experience with the industry and its talent.

What sets our Minneapolis market apart others?

Ken: Minneapolis is unique because we are not dependent on one industry. We have a very diverse group of companies, including manufacturing, banking, financial services, retail—that is in contrast to a place such as Oklahoma, where it’s primarily oil and gas. Or in Florida, which is largely tourism. In addition, we’re seeing a lot of new tech, software and medical device companies coming into the Twin Cities, which is expanding the skills of Minneapolis talent.

Sheryl: Employees come here because we don’t have enough talent! We have good talent—smart, educated people—and we have them because we have these large companies like General Mills and Target, but as more companies grow and build in Minneapolis, we need more employees to fill their roles.

How are candidate expectations changing?

Sheryl: There are a few things that are appealing to all generations. We’re seeing that flex time and working remote or from home is important to people. The up-and-coming talent wants flexible scheduling and other perks, so companies are adopting more of these principles to attract that talent.

Ken: Companies are also offering more motivators, such as managing weekly hours better or giving equity as an extra incentive. They are making changes to make it worth it for employees, but in some cases, it even saves companies money.

As you are looking toward to 2019 and 2020, what kinds of forecasts are you seeing? How will Salo be able to help?

Sheryl: We are advisers on the market to both sides of the table. Whether you have a current need or may in the future, you can partner with us and allow us to be that adviser.

Ken:The market doesn’t appear to be changing and will likely continue to be tight. We encourage you to plan for that now, instead of later.

Ken and Sheryl match senior accounting and finance professionals with growing companies to help the clients solve complex business challenges and the candidates find the growth and challenge they are looking for in their career.

Connect with Ken and Sheryl on LinkedIn.