By Melanie Hudson, Manager, Accounting & Finance Executive Search
Accounting and finance jobs are projected to grow 10 percent between now and 2026.
Like other sectors, job growth in accounting and finance is tied to the economy but also to better compliance, driven by the passage of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act. This has created a stronger demand for more experienced candidates with CPAs or a Master’s in Accounting.
Public firms seem to be feeling the pinch even more than private companies. This is primarily because CPA firms are competing against each other within a small pool of candidates and a growing number of candidates want more flexible work solutions (reduced hours, opportunities to do something different on their 5th day of work, etc.).
With an increased need for experienced accounting and finance professionals, competition for talent has become fierce with salary expectations continually increasing. This can pose large challenges to companies’ budgets and cause equity issues with tenured employees.
Salaries Are Only the Beginning
Among the first things we tell our clients is to be aware of the market demands and trends for the jobs they have open. Higher salaries often are just the beginning in today’s competitive environment. Everything from bonus plans to sign on bonuses are on the table. Today’s candidates are deliberate in their job search, interviewing at multiple companies, comparing offers and making certain that they’re making the right move. So, companies need to consider the full package of what they are offering and that it relates to tangible and intangible compensation.
Increase the Perks
Today’s job perks stretch well beyond a good benefits package, which is a must. A flexible schedule and flexible working location are among the top perks on almost every list, no matter the job sector. Wellness programs, gym memberships, childcare assistance and office perks such as free lunches and casual dress also are important.
Hiring Based on Potential
With any competitive environment, you must determine how you can remain flexible and prioritize finding great talent. As a result, lots of our clients in this space are loosening the experience requirements to broaden their search. Hiring more entry level Accountants and providing a strong training and mentoring program is one option. While this requires the resource of time in the early stages of on-boarding, the results can be phenomenal with the right coaching and support.
Commit to Training and Development
Learning and development is always among candidates’ top lists of requirements, but particularly for those early in their career. Hungry candidates always want to evolve and grow. Beyond training programs that teach the technical skills of a job, employees also are looking for opportunities to identify and achieve personal and professional goals. Ongoing employee training and development is a great retention tool. Community engagement and giving-back is also a big draw for candidates’ personal goal drive.
Effective recruiters understand that creating relationships with candidates and establishing an ongoing pipeline of talent are crucial in today’s job market. Companies can take similar approaches to increase their talent pool. While a candidate may not be the best fit for the job at hand, are there reasons to bring him or her on board now for a future opening? If that isn’t an option, companies can create a talent pipeline by identifying a group of candidates that fit their typical criteria and then stay connected with those individuals.
Improve the Hiring Process
To stand out in this competitive job market, companies may need to explore a change in their hiring process. There are multiple ways to do so which could include more detailed job descriptions, a short and effective interview process, collateral that showcases the benefits of working for the organization and providing feedback throughout the process. Companies typically expect candidates to show up and sell themselves. In today’s environment, candidates are choosing companies, so companies must do a better job of selling themselves and do so much earlier in the hiring process.
With effective planning and a creative outlook, companies can position themselves as an employer of choice which will make hiring in any job market easier.