Market Update: The War For Talent Begins
We launched our online salary survey What’s My Worth this month.
As it turns out, our timing couldn’t have been better: remuneration for accounting roles in New Zealand is very fluid right now, and there’s a real void of up-to-date, real-time market information. The accounting market is extremely active and we’re beginning to return to the hectic, candidate-short market that existed pre-recession.
We look forward to releasing our first What’s My Worth quarterly report on the specific numbers in October. In the meantime, here’s an overview of accounting talent trends we’re seeing on the ground:
At first glance, there seems to be relatively healthy numbers of Accounts Payable, Accounts Receivable and Junior Assistant Accountants looking for work. Dig a little deeper, and we see that while some might look great ‘on paper’, they’re often missing critical soft skills – the effective communication, drive and fit demanded by employers. Junior level candidates with these skills are incredibly hard to find, and often have multiple offers. A case in point: This week we had an Accounts Receivable candidate interview at 9am. She was offered the role during the interview at 9.15, and started at 9.30.
Those in permanent roles are realising they are in a good position now to demand salary increases (or at least get back to pre-recession salary levels). HR departments will need to be mindful of this when they are releasing ‘bands’ for hiring – these will be outdated rapidly.
Assistant Accountants, Financial Accountants and Management Accountants are becoming more confident about moving roles. Many are now actively seeking career advancement and opportunities with progressive, evolving companies. Salaries are yet to move considerably, as the focus is more on career development – but expect a jump in these salaries in the next six months.
The CPA and ICAANZ battle is in full swing, and there has been far fewer candidates limiting their search to an ICAANZ Approved Training Organisation to further their studies.
Good candidates at mid-level have a choice in the market today – and they’re choosing companies that offer career advancement, a good work environment and the ability to progress without barriers.
There are still more people at Finance Manager, Financial Controller, and CFO level than there are roles. However, good candidates who may have been out of work through the recession are starting to pick up work again, and confidence levels are definitely rising.
During the recession, many companies hired senior level candidates directly because they could – they had plenty of choice, and plenty of time to hire. We’re still seeing that today, but this will change if demand at this level continues to pick up.
There are two types of candidates at senior level: those who have developed the ability to network and market themselves, and those who rely on applying on job ads and other old school methods for their job search. The distinction is obvious; the former are securing good roles, the latter are most definitely not.
- Expect rapid increases in salaries across the accounting sector as the battle for talent begins – particularly at the junior and mid-level ranges.
- Candidates are testing the market for opportunities and pay increases – counteroffers from existing employers will again be prevalent.
- The pool of accounting talent will become a distinct market of halves: those employers want, and those that are not employable. This will create barriers to direct hiring as employers struggle to keep up with the speed of the market (on one side) vs. the large quantity of applications received for traditional job ads (on the other).
- Many agencies that have abused their candidate relationships will struggle in the next 6-12 months as their talent pool dries up and candidates get to choose who represents them.
- Employers who conduct drawn-out recruitment processes – particularly for temporary roles – will miss out on the best talent.
- Look after your people. Make sure you’re using up-to-date salary information, and pay them well. Treat them well. Communicate with them and thank them for their efforts through the tough years.
- Accept that you will probably lose people. The reality is that many people need a change in environment after hanging tight for so many years.
- Communicate with your people to avoid gaps in staffing and loss of knowledge. It’s infinitely preferable to be aware of an employee’s intentions to leave and to support them whilst having time to recruit, than it is to put your head in the sand.
The take-home message? The pendulum has begun to move. It will not be long before the war for talent is in full swing again.