Market Update February 2015: The Good News Continues
There’s been no shortage of good-news stories coming out about the Kiwi job market recently.
The upbeat conversations we’ve been having with hiring managers over the past few months firmly underscore the findings from recent hiring intention surveys. This is backed up by the consistent growth in activity we’ve experienced over the past year – once again, last month we placed more people in jobs than any other January since we started in 2008.
We’re also seeing a shift from the cost-focus prevalent during the recession, to a revenue-focus. As a result, many job listings are for newly created positions – a clear sign of increased business confidence.
THE FUTURE IS ROSY FOR ‘TOMORROW’S ACCOUNTANTS’
This increased focus on revenue and growth is driving a trend towards reshaping finance teams to become more outward-looking and business-partnering in nature.
This is behind an increased demand for ‘tomorrow’s accountants’ who can use data to provide insight into the future and steer a company in the right direction.
DEMAND IS STILL STRONGEST FOR INTERMEDIATE-LEVEL TALENT…
As always, intermediate-level accounting talent (Assistant Accountant through to entry-level Finance Manager) have the most choice in the job market. Most hiring activity is centred here, and the talent shortage is exacerbated by the hollowing out at this level caused by the OE tradition.
People with strong data skills and business partnering experience are the most in demand, as are those on a clear upward trajectory in their career.
…BUT SENIOR-LEVEL CANDIDATES ARE MAKING THEIR OWN LUCK
It’s been quiet at the top for a long time. Many CFO’s and Financial Controllers have been frustrated by the lack of quality full time roles available.
In response, we’re starting to see a trend that mirrors what’s been happening in the US, according to conversations we’ve had with US-based entrepreneurs: CFO’s-as-consultants.
Several of the more well-networked CFOs we know are taking on multiple concurrent contracts, consulting to mainly start-up businesses, or those preparing for an IPO or acquisition.
We expect to see more CFOs with the right experience and networks exploring this option in 2015.
TEMPORARY VS PERMANENT HIRING
The contracting market is still buoyant, with good professional or ‘career’ contractors hard to find, and often being presented with multiple offers.
We’re currently experiencing a very strong upturn in permanent hiring activity, as a result of a flood of newly-created permanent positions, and a decreased appetite for ‘testing the waters’ by hiring temps into permanent positions. Many businesses have been burned in recent times in these situations, when their ‘temp’ leaves to take a permanent role elsewhere.
SALARIES ARE MOVING…SLOWLY
I won’t give too much away here, as we’re releasing a detailed salary report from What’s My Worth later this year (email us to register for a copy), but in summary, the salary story is patchy. Some roles are seeing significant increases, while others are near-stagnant.
Many businesses are trying to attract staff with the same salaries they’ve been paying for years. We’ve had three instances in just the past month where clients have missed out on their preferred candidate to a competitor due to an unwillingness to meet the market.
As hiring managers begin to experience this repeatedly with high-demand positions, we expect to see salaries move much more quickly.
IF YOU’RE HIRING
If you have very specific ‘hard skills’ requirements of new hires, you can expect that your time-to-hire will lengthen significantly in the first part of this year. You’d be well-advised to focus instead on team fit and ‘trainability’.
You’ll need to keep on top of market rates, too: they’re shifting and no longer can you expect top talent to be grateful just to have a job offer – you’ll need to offer competitive salaries. According to our data, salary is currently the most important motivating factor for all levels of accounting and finance job seekers, after location.
Be aware that the passive talent market (that is, people in permanent positions who are keeping an eye out for their next opportunity, but not actively applying for roles), is becoming much more active. This means that you need to keep close to your staff – talk to them and make sure you’re paying them fairly, and offering them opportunities for them to develop.
IF YOU’RE LOOKING FOR A NEW JOB
If you have an in-demand profile, you’ll likely find there are more options available than when you last looked, and you might even end up with multiple offers. Do your research and make sure you’re clear on your value in the market.
If you’re looking but not having much luck, it could be because you’re trying to be everything to everyone – a common hangover from the recession. Focus on understanding and marketing your unique value proposition. More to come on this shortly on this blog.
THE TAKE-HOME MESSAGE
Right now the job market is buoyant, but not a bubble. Employers are looking to drive their businesses forward with top talent. Accounting professionals are realistic about the job market, but optimistic. Barring some unforeseen global crisis, we are without a doubt headed toward a candidate-short market across the board. Be prepared.