Even with high unemployment, businesses are finding that it takes at least a month to fill open accounting and finance positions.

CFOs interviewed for a survey by Robert Half Finance & Accounting said it takes an average of four weeks to fill a staff-level role and five weeks to bring a new manager on board.

The 1,400 CFOs were asked, "On average, how many weeks does it typically take to hire for an open staff-level accounting or finance position?" The mean response was four weeks.

CFOs also were asked, "On average, how many weeks does it typically take to hire for an open management-level accounting or finance position?" The mean response was five weeks.

"Even in this cautious hiring environment, managers need to focus on their staff levels," said Robert Half International CEO Max Messmer. "Operating with a team that's too lean could cause firms to lose out on future business opportunities and lead to employee burnout."

Robert Half Finance & Accounting offers managers four tips to make the hiring process as efficient as possible:

1.    Stay front and center. Don't delegate the hiring process. You know best what you want in an employee. Avoid delays or, worse, potential hiring mistakes by remaining closely involved in the process from beginning to end.

2.    Stick to the game plan. Before resumes start coming in, develop a method for evaluating them consistently. Using the job description as a base, make note of key criteria you're looking for from applicants, and search for those same attributes in each resume you receive.

3.    Get help. Specialized recruiters can help you pinpoint your needs. And their networks provide access to people you might not locate on your own, including professionals who may not be actively looking but would make a change for the right opportunity.

4.    Don't delay. When you identify strong applicants, don't procrastinate. Top performers are in demand in any market. By moving too slowly, you risk losing your first choice -- and extending the hiring process.

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