From changing regulations to fierce global competition, the accounting and finance landscape is evolving rapidly.

Today’s accounting professionals must do more than “keep the books.” They need to turn numbers into actionable insights by identifying new business opportunities and operational performance improvements. Given the tight candidate market, it can sometimes feel like you’re playing catch-up when it comes to hiring the right talent. Exceptionally low unemployment rates mean that in some cities there are more job opportunities than qualified candidates. As the rules of the recruitment game change, hiring managers are finding that their best leads may come from their competition. Here’s how to make this strategy work for your hiring needs:

  1. Evaluate employer brand. Start by making a list of 10 companies that are your biggest competitors when it comes to hiring accounting talent. Consider which aspects of their employer brand and company culture make these organizations so attractive to prospective hires. For example, do they have a reputation for innovation and growth that attracts forward-thinking leaders? Are they known for generous benefits or remote work flexibility? Do they continually invest in employee training?
  2. Review job descriptions. Next, consider how the competition talks about its employer brand and company culture in their job descriptions. How do they generate excitement about job openings? For example, do they highlight a culture of innovation or professional development opportunities? Finally, put yourself in the shoes of a job seeker: what message points would be especially compelling if you were looking for a new position? What falls flat?
  3. Shine the spotlight on unique opportunities. Now that you’ve evaluated how your competitors talk about their career paths consider how you can differentiate opportunities at your organization. For example, perhaps your company is not as technically advanced as a competitor but is in the process of upgrading a legacy accounting system. Highlight how the new hire would be vital to bringing an innovative vision to your business and charting a new path, rather than just following a system that was started by someone else.
  4. Avoid missteps. Sometimes the competition can serve as a cautionary tale by highlighting what not to do. For example, perhaps a competitor has failed to keep tabs on their employer reputation and is facing a slew of negative Glassdoor reviews. Reviews that consistently reference management challenges, a lack of internal promotion opportunities, or a toxic workplace culture are red flags that need to be addressed immediately.

Strong demand and a shrinking candidate pool mean that accounting talent has more choices and bargaining power than they’ve had in nearly a decade. If you’re struggling to recruit these forward-thinkers, try reverse-engineering competitor job descriptions to identify where your company is falling short– and how it can shine a light on exciting professional opportunities