So you’re trying to transform your Finance function and bring new members into the team. What recruitment pitfalls should you look to avoid?

This article is co-authored by Chris Argent, GenerationCFO.com and Richard Hughes, CFO, Proactis who recently shared his career highlights in The Shift and will continue this series on high performing finance team talent.

At some point during your digital transformation journey, you’re going to have to start thinking of bringing new people into the fold. Your digital Finance function isn’t going to deliver its potential value if you don’t have the right skills and talent to make it work.

So you need to consider recruitment. This is one of the most critical hiring periods that CFOs will have to face – get this wrong, and your big, expensive transformation project won’t deliver the returns you need – so it’s essential that you get it right. Good recruitment is a fine art and easy to get wrong. Those bad choices can have a massively detrimental impact on your team.

Here are some of the common mistakes that CFOs make when hiring and the effects they can have on your team.

1. Assuming you need to hire in the first place

Just because you need new skills on your team doesn’t necessarily mean hiring outside talent. Your current team members may have the potential to take on these new roles. Automatically looking for new hires before first exploring your internal options could leave your people demoralised, cynical and unproductive. It’s vital that you bring your people with you during any transformation project, so make sure that you have engaged with each team member, determined their strengths, weaknesses and goals, and made a plan to bring them with you before you look elsewhere.

Read our previous article for more information on how to level up your team

2. Waiting for the ‘perfect’ candidate

As you strive to meet the vision for your new look Finance function, you’ll likely have a long list of requirements for the shiny new talent you’re looking to bring in. If you wait for a candidate that ticks off everything on the list, you may well be waiting a very long time. Digital finance is still relatively new, and talented people will have varying experiences of working within it. Instead, highlight the critical skills and traits you need and focusing on those when looking for the right candidates. The other skills can be learned along the way.

3. Not thinking about ‘cultural fit’

As well as changing the systems and processes of your finance Function, digital transformation is also about transforming culture. Any new people you bring in must fit into that culture and fit in with the existing team. Cultural change can be extremely difficult for your people, especially if not handled correctly. Bringing in the personnel equivalent of a square peg in a round hole could cause more challenges than it fixes. Don’t focus solely on the skills you need – make sure their approach to work and personal traits match your function’s goals, purpose, and culture.

Read more about preparing your team to excel digitally and mentally

4. Being a salary skinflint

If you want talent, you’ve got to pay for talent. But so many CFOs aren’t willing to put their money where their mouth is when it comes to attracting the right people. Research similar roles, find out what other organisations out forward and be prepared to offer a competitive salary if you want the best candidates to take you seriously.

5. Failing to get second opinions

You depend on your team daily, so why wouldn’t you utilise their expertise and experience to help to identify the right person for the role? Your team members will work alongside new hires; they will have a vested interest in finding the best people for the job. Their intimate knowledge of the business and its culture will also strengthen your ability to identify those who will best fit the company culture.

After all, it’s your people that make a transformation work. Any recruitment you do should support your existing people as well as your transformation goals. With that marriage of cultural fit and critical skills, your team will really deliver as part of your digital finance function.