People & Leadership

Finance hiring best practices: 5 strategies for SaaS CFOs

As a SaaS CFO, ensure you're hiring top talent with these 5 finance hiring best practices. Find out how to build a strong team and achieve your financial goals.

We’ve all heard the saying that no one is an island. And that’s certainly true when it comes to being a SaaS CFO. Once your company scales past your seed funding round to Series A funding and beyond, it’s critical to build out your finance team using effective hiring best practices. This helps ensure that only the most qualified job seekers end up in your department.

In light of the demands and responsibilities placed on you as a CFO, it’s essential to get your finance hiring right the first time around. Anything short of that leads to wasted time and resources. In this post, we’ll cover 5 hiring best practices you can use to surround yourself with the best talent and prevent employee turnover.     

Why are SaaS finance hiring best practices important? 

Having some hiring best practices in place is always a good idea when you’re in the position of hiring others. But for the finance and accounting functions of your organization, the selection process needs to be particularly rigorous. 

This is because poorly made hires in your accounting department can lead to lasting negative impacts, including: 

Cash flow shortfalls: The finance department handles forecasts and other vital activities related to cash flow. This means that poor hiring can lead to potentially serious cash shortages if new hires make mistakes in these areas. Additionally, with the increasing use of automation in finance, it’s important to hire individuals who are familiar with these technologies to avoid any potential errors.

Budgeting problems: Your accounting team is responsible for setting quarterly and annual budgets that act as the backbone of corporate processes. Poor hires can result in unworkable budgets from manual errors, or other issues such as missed budget deadlines. A well-planned recruitment strategy can help you avoid these problems and ensure that you hire the right people for the job.

Poor subscription results: The finance team helps the rest of the company get their bearings by supplying accurate and objective data via reports and forecasts. This helps other teams formulate and execute plans that are directly tied to subscription and revenue results. If teams can’t trust the financial data and metrics they’re receiving, that’s a massive problem. 

In addition to all of this, SaaS hiring best practices allow you to exert as much influence as possible over the hiring process. A recurring theme of this post will be the importance of crafting the precise results you want by being extremely specific from the very beginning. Recruitment practices are crucial to ensure that you hire the right candidate for every open position.

Now let’s dive into some hiring strategies that can help you build a pool of qualified candidates. 

SaaS hiring best practice #1: Understand both sides of the finance function

As a SaaS CFO evaluating a talent pool, it’s important to understand the full scope of the finance function at your company. A SaaS finance department typically falls into two main categories of roles and activities: accounting on the one hand, and financial planning and analysis (FP&A) on the other. Understanding the roles and activities of the finance function is crucial to building a strong and effective workforce.

Accounting tends to focus on past transactions and historical financial information. It answers the question, “Where is our cash coming from, and where is it going?” Examples of accounting-oriented processes include: 

  • Preparing financial statements and tax documents. 
  • Providing financial information to management, shareholders, creditors, and regulators.  

By contrast, FP&A is forward-looking and strategic. It includes business activities such as: 

  • Revenue forecasting to build out subscription campaign plans. 
  • Actively supporting other departments such as sales and marketing by providing real-time financial metrics. 
  • Reporting to various managers with information about business drivers for their specific department. 

When it comes to hiring best practices, clarity is power. So what else should you be highly specific about during the hiring process? 

SaaS hiring best practice #2: Know your applicant “green lights” 

As far as SaaS hiring best practices go, you should map out some “green lights” ahead of time. In other words, what are you looking for in your ideal candidate or quality candidates? Knowing this ahead of time will greatly improve your chances of hiring effectively, and can help you build the optimal SaaS finance team.

As your candidate pool starts to build, be mindful that the best candidate (or multiple top candidates) will meet the following criteria during the interview process.

They’re a “foundation builder.”

If a candidate was one of the first 5 hires in their company’s finance or accounting department, that’s usually a positive sign. It means they were a financial “foundation builder” at their current or previous organization, and have likely acquired many of the skills you’re seeking in an applicant. 

They have experience with your sales motion. 

SaaS companies’ go-to-market motion–meaning their strategy for rolling products out to customers–tends to be unique and specific. If you come across a candidate who has prior experience with your rollout process, it could mean they’ll be a good cultural fit at your company.

They bring quantitative and qualitative expertise to the table. 

Today’s SaaS finance department is involved in much more than just number crunching. Quantitative experience and skill sets are important. But remember to include interview questions about strategic contributions applicants have made at past companies. Maybe they could bring something similar to your open position.

SaaS hiring best practice #3: Leverage the job description

Be explicit in your job postings about what you’re looking for. What will your day-to-day expectations be for someone once they step into this role? Does it allow for remote work? Answering those kinds of questions in the job description will result in a better hire, and potential candidates appreciate it too. It helps them quickly determine if they’re a good fit. 

Additionally, it’s always useful to clearly stipulate what your “must haves” and “nice to haves” are for a specific position. What are your non-negotiable hiring requirements, and what are the secondary factors that will give candidates an edge even if they’re not strictly required? By being clear about what you’re looking for, you’re more likely to end up with a high level of employee engagement because your staff members will have been well chosen. That’s also a good way to keep your employee retention high.

Once again, taking the time to thoroughly go through this step is a win-win. It helps screen out candidates who really shouldn’t be applying–they would only be a drag on their co-workers in the long term. But just as importantly, it helps the strongest candidates self-select as dozens and probably hundreds of people read your job description. 

SaaS hiring best practices #4: Advertise job openings intelligently during your SaaS hiring process

No matter which hiring best practices you incorporate into your SaaS organization, remember to get creative about how you advertise. These days, many job seekers have extended their search to include social media sites like LinkedIn and Facebook, employment-based email lists, and other unconventional sources. It’s also not a bad idea to ask current employees how they heard about the jobs they applied for at your organization. The hiring process has come a long way in recent years, and getting creative about your advertising methods helps attract top talent. 

Effectively marketing your job openings is one of the best ways to get top talent on your team. Some potential examples include:

  • Mentioning it on a webinar or podcast: SaaS companies often hold webinars for various purposes, and leaders from certain SaaS organizations even appear on tech podcasts or host their own. Since both of these mediums tend to offer access to large audiences interested in the SaaS industry, they’re promising places to mention any vacancy at your company. You never know where you might find your next new employee.
  • Advertising in less-saturated spaces: Once they become well-known, many job boards quickly become so crowded they risk hitting a point of diminishing returns. Doing some research into newer but still reputable and promising job sites can make a big difference, even if you still advertise on some of the major job boards. 
  • Putting SEO to use: Weaving SEO into the careers page on your website can be a great way to get more eyes on it. If you have a dedicated SEO specialist at your organization, consider having them look it over and suggest potential improvements.

Remember, the end goal of a hiring round is to onboard the most talented and experienced people you possibly can. The breadth and depth of your advertising can make a huge difference in who you end up hiring.  

Learn finance hiring best practices from industry leaders 

Making effective hiring calls is one of the most critical aspects of being a SaaS CFO. But there’s a lot that goes into making a successful hire–these hiring best practices are only the tip of the iceberg. Do you know how to set expectations for the first 180 days of each role you’re hiring for? Have you mapped out the long-term impacts you’re hoping each role can accomplish? 

The Modern SaaS Finance Academy gives SaaS finance leaders a chance to get actionable insights directly from industry pros. Featuring dozens of online lessons from senior-level SaaS finance and accounting professionals, you can learn how to hire optimally, build and scale your SaaS revenue model, streamline financial processes with AI, and much more.  Patterned off the success of the Hubspot Academy, but built for SaaS CFOs, Controllers, FP&A, RevOps, and CEOs, it is free and offers the option of CPE credits.  

You can register today.

Modern SaaS Finance Academy

The Modern SaaS  Finance Academy is a free online training hub designed for CFOs, Controllers, FP&A, Revenue managers, Revenue Operations, and other members of the finance community in fast growth SaaS companies.

Learn more
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