Recruitment advice, job seeker support and company news

What's Happening In The Accountancy Job Market?

28th September 2023

by Craig Low

Summer is over! You might have noticed. This also means that the slower pace of recruitment, when ongoing processes sometimes “cool” and feedback can take longer than candidates and job seekers anticipate, is behind us too.

Although, to be fair, during the summer transactional accounts jobs, in particular accounts payable, saw a flurry of activity from organisations, and there was also an appetite to secure the next generation of talent, onboarding the latest cohorts of accountancy and finance graduates into statutory accounting, tax, cost and accounts payable positions.

Demand for temporary recruitment exceeded supply and employers encountered a diminished pool of readily available temporary workers to help them plug project-specific gaps and cover periods of illness or maternity. This will continue into the new year, so we encourage employers to move quickly to secure their preferred candidates.

A growing number of companies have sounded the call for more days working in the office, but this is being met with resistance. Requests for hybrid working dominate candidate conversations, with the majority steadfast in their desire to work at least 2 days from home. There is a balance to be struck and this recent research from Ipsos Karian and Box resonates with the conversations I have with candidates who seek time in the office to develop skills, learn from colleagues, undertake training and benefit from the working culture.

Flexibility is a significant consideration for employers because most candidates are averse to moving somewhere that does not offer it. We’ve also experienced an increase in the number of job seekers citing a preference for working part-time, with 4 days per week particularly attractive.

In response to this we encourage clients to consider their capacity for flexibility in conjunction with operational necessities. It’s unfortunate when clients hold out for their “perfect” candidate while skilled part-time workers struggle to be given any consideration during the hiring process.

Generally, rates of pay have stabilised, however, companies must continually evaluate how competitive their package is. There’s no room for complacency because in this market, counteroffers are regularly being used as a successful retention tactic and employees are leveraging them to negotiate across salary, working hours and responsibilities. For instance, a part-qualified candidate recently secured an uplift in salary of £5k and a change in working pattern to accommodate childcare needs.

Financial reward can be an alluring and powerful incentive, and whilst it may provide an instant dopamine hit, it’s often a short-term fix that masks the primary motivators for looking for a new job in the first place.

Qualified and part-qualified accountants are in a good position because demand remains high for their skills, in particular, statutory reporting and cost control skillsets have been sought over the summer months – and will likely continue for the remainder of the year. In practice, firms are finding it difficult to source those with audit or business advisory experience.

To employers, my number one piece of advice would be to take a considered approach to your resourcing strategy. Finding candidates is relatively straightforward, it is the selection of the best candidate for your business and specific role that takes careful consideration. This may require you to adapt your screening process and interview protocols, introduce personality assessment, benchmark your remuneration and look beyond conventional sources of applicants to avoid delays in the timeline of your process. 

For job seekers, despite the healthy job market, it's still competitive, and applications need to be considered thoughtfully. While technical skills are important of course, soft skills help you stand out, especially with firms that are continually adapting to change and require people with good communication and interpersonal skills. 

Our Accountancy & Finance recruiters are working on over 60 vacancies right now, including these jobs which give you an idea of the range and diversity of our active assignments:

Whether you are hiring or considering a job change we're available for a confidential discussion T 01224 327 000.

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