Opportunities for finance and accounting professionals are expected to grow this year. However, with unemployment at a record-low 3.7 percent and fewer job seekers on the market, finding and securing skilled financial talent will remain a challenge for employers in 2019.
Unemployment rates in the sector are even lower than the already-low national rate (2.5% for accountants and 2.1% for financial analysts respectively). That, coupled with the fact that for the first time in history, the United States has had more job openings than job seekers for several months running, and it’s clear that employers looking to hire within the industry face a daunting task.
Indeed, when asked to name the most pressing internal and external challenges facing their organizations in a recent Randstad Professionals survey, hiring managers placed “recruiting and retaining talent” (40%) and “talent shortages or skill gaps in certain departments” (26%) at the top of the list.
With so much competition over the same shrinking pool of talent, employers will need to act fast if they want to secure the market’s most sought-after candidates. Yet, lengthy time-to-fill rates continue to impede that goal. Sixty percent of respondents to the Randstad Professionals survey reported that it takes between two to three months to fill a direct hire vacancy — and that’s much too long.
Top finance and accounting talent is in high demand, and skilled candidates in these fields will have no shortage of options in 2019. To remain competitive this year, businesses should look to accelerate their hiring cycles as much as possible.
Here's the current state of a few key accounting and finance occupations for 2019:
accounts payable/accounts receivable clerks
Overseeing and coordinating critical business transactions like timely payment of invoices and reconciling customer accounts respectively, there continues to be a high demand for these roles. New technical advancements are leading to changes in these functions, with more clerks expected to take on analysis roles for their companies and clients.
credit and collections clerks/managers
Qualifying new customers and suppliers and investigating risk continues to be a critical function in accounting departments, even as new software and automated calling systems are making collections more efficient.
Expect fierce competition for financial analysts this year, as the BLS expects demand for professionals in the field to grow by almost 11 percent — that’s 32,100 new jobs — by 2026. Experienced financial analysts will be in the most demand, with competition highest among those trying to break into the field.
Payroll affects every aspect of a company, from the reputation of the organization right down to the morale of its employees. As automation makes its impact on the payroll function, managers will be providing payroll trend analysis and even predictive analytics that can provide companies with a real competitive advantage that can contribute to informed decisions.
Accountants stand to benefit the most from the healthy economy, with a job growth rate of 10 percent — a higher rate than the combined average of all other occupations. A growing economy and increased globalization have kept the need for the skill sets of senior and staff accountants high, while increased automation has made them even more efficient at their jobs.
keys to attracting finance and accounting talent in 2019
Organizations in search of finance and accounting talent need to prioritize the overall candidate hiring experience in order to attract and retain in-demand candidates. Offering compelling benefits and competitive compensation will be necessary to stand out and secure skilled personnel in today’s tight talent market.
Benefits like agile work environments are particularly top of mind with today's job seekers, and employers looking to hire talent quickly should consider providing more flexible working arrangements to their employees. Thirty-eight percent of respondents to Randstad's Workplace 2025 study said that agile working arrangements gave them a greater sense of job security and 53 percent said that they provide them with more control over their careers.
Other perks like early Friday releases, onsite lifestyle amenities and unlimited vacation time are also highly prized, and offering any combination of these incentives will help make employers more competitive in the year ahead.