Accounting & Finance Jobs Update August 2015
We get asked many times a day what the accounting and finance job market’s doing.
There’s certainly a lot of activity out there, but the answer’s not straightforward.
I would describe what we’re experiencing at the moment as a period of transition.
THERE ARE A LOT MORE ACCOUNTING & FINANCE JOBS OUT THERE
At Consult, we’ve seen a very big increase in job listings, up 61% for the second quarter of this year, compared to Q2 2014. This could of course just be because we’re awesome and we’re growing (sorry, couldn’t resist). So let’s also look at the change in accounting job listings for the two main job boards during the same period:
Seek: +15% on Q2 2014
Trademe: +11% on Q2 2014
Not as impressive, but certainly significantly up on last year.
BUT…THERE ARE MORE PEOPLE LOOKING FOR THE NEXT STEP IN THEIR CAREER
At the start of the recession, we saw a surge of people looking for work, as a result of widespread redundancies.
Then, as the dust settled, we saw the number of job seekers drop off: People were thankful to have a job – any job – and they also (quite rightly) believed there weren’t many good jobs out there to choose from.
Fast forward to today, and high performers have a lot more confidence in their ability to find a good role. For us at Consult, this has resulted in a huge increase in passive job seekers: That untapped pool of people who are currently employed and interested in moving for the right role, but are too busy to actively search.
The result: A lot of good people are strategically looking for their next opportunity.
COMPANIES HAVE MORE VACANCIES, BUT SOME ARE FAILING TO RESPOND TO THE MARKET
Many hiring managers are still stalling for an exact match to a very specific skill set.
This is because:
- They believe it’s still an employer’s market. This is already untrue for certain accounting and finance positions, and our prediction (and that of the Department of Labour) are that within a year most – if not all – accounting and finance roles will be talent short.
- They’ve been operating with an under-resourced team for so long, it’s become their new normal. They’ve coped so far (just), so what’s the harm in delaying hiring? The problem is that this attitude is based on the assumption that current staff will continue to stay put. The conversations we’re having every day with talented, employed people show this is wrong.
- They see getting the right talent as important, but they also have very high expectations and would rather not hire at all than compromise in any way. The reality is, it’s only going to get tougher to hire ‘perfect’ (and did that ever actually exist)?
That being said, many companies are benefiting from updating their recruitment mind set, and shoring up their ranks with the the high-performers their competitors are missing out on.
WHAT DOES THIS MEAN FOR YOU IF YOU’RE LOOKING FOR YOUR NEXT ROLE?
Yes, there are more good roles to apply for, but there’s more competition for most of them, too.
- Right now, you’ll probably have a difficult time if you want to make a big change from what you’re currently doing. But it’s a good time to make a move within your specialisation.
- You need to do your research on the market and where you fit into it. Showcase your ‘unique selling point’ and target your job search, and you won’t have much trouble finding a great role.
WHAT DOES THIS MEAN IF YOU’RE HIRING?
- Consider broadening your criteria to include people who may not have 100% of the hard skills/experience you’re looking for, but who have outstanding soft skills and culture fit. You’ll be surprised at how much more choice you’ll have when you do. This is good practice right now; soon, it will be essential practice.
- Be targeted in your hiring efforts. A broad brush approach will result in high numbers ofapplicants, many of whom will inevitably wind up as disgruntled anti-ambassadors of your company. If you don’t have the time, knowledge or resources to target your vacancy to the people you actually want to apply, use a specialist agency.
- Prepare for an impending skills shortage as the rate of job creation continues to accelerate, and the temporary increase in job seekers is mopped up. This means keeping close to your best performers, thinking critically about what’s really important to you in new hires, and making sure your employer brand is as strong as possible.
WHERE IS THE GROWTH RIGHT NOW?
The area where we’re seeing the most growth right now is in ‘commercial’ roles. This encompasses management accountants, business analysts and commercial finance managers, as well as a few new job titles (such as strategic analysts).
These commercial roles are being redefined to have a much stronger focus on data – businesses are looking for people with a very strong understanding of how to convert insights from big data into operational excellence.
If you’re an employee looking to capitalise on this growth, you’ll need to have a firm grip on this area. If you’re not a hard core data geek, then at the very least you’ll need to understand enough to be able to manage one!
And if your business is creating new roles in this space, be aware that there’s stiff competition among employers for a small, nascent pool of talent with these skills. You’ll need to move swiftly and be prepared to pay well.
A FINAL MESSAGE: DON’T GET TOO COMFORTABLE
If you’re an employer, don’t expect that the hiring practices you’re using today will still work tomorrow. They won’t.
If you’re an accounting and finance professional, you might find the competition’s fairly stiff right now for the jobs you’re interested in, but that’s set to change. If your safe, comfortable job has passed its use-by date, now’s the time to start shaking things up.
The times, they are a-changing!