hiring trends in accounting and finance.

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Prosperous growth and digital transformation are on the horizon, but will there be enough talent to go around?

We analyzed the latest hiring trends for accounting and finance, outlined the challenges they pose to you and offered solutions on how to overcome each one so you can keep your firm from falling behind. Let's take a look. 

industry outlook in numbers

Business and financial occupations are expected to grow seven percent between 2018 and 2028 — that's an above-average rate. According to data obtained from Burning Glass, a leading labor-insight provider, over the past 12 months, there were:

  • bookkeepers and accounting clerks: 279,064 job postings

  • accountants: 203,028 job postings

  • financial analysts: 130,072 job postings

It's clear that with the industry growing, there's no shortage of job openings. However, finding enough talent to fill all those positions remains a challenge.

addressing the talent shortage and skills gap was the #1 external challenge hiring leaders in accounting, finance and HR expected to face.*

Despite being the largest segment of the overall workforce, millennials are remarkably underrepresented in the accounting and finance functions, and continue to elude employers. This is becoming an even bigger problem as more boomers get set to retire.

The shortage of young finance and accounting talent comes at an especially bad time for firms, as new workplace technologies create a greater need for workers with both tech and financial acumen. 

62 percent pie chart   90 percent pie chart
62% of senior finance professionals believe that finding and hiring millennials will be a challenge.    90% of finance leaders don't feel that their teams have the necessary competencies to support a digital transformation.

what this means for employers

Expect to have hiring challenges for accounting and finance professionals — and expect to have a tough time solving them. With the talent market tightening, especially in regard to the next generation of accounting and finance talent, you'll have to approach hiring from a new angle to find the skilled candidates you need to carry the torch into the future. 

To help you overcome the challenges posed by these trends, follow the steps below.

trends arrow turquoise illustration trend:
shortage of millennials in accounting
and finance

how that affects you:
threatens the future stability of your firm

target your hiring approach to align with millennial preferences

While the talent shortage is widespread across accounting and finance, employers are feeling it most among younger generations. In a study of over 4,000 millennial and Gen Z respondents, only 10 percent expressed an interest in finance, and that lack of interest seems to have translated to the job market: Sixty-two percent of employers polled in another survey said that hiring millennials would be the biggest challenge for their businesses.

only 10% of millennial and gen z respondents expressed an interest in finance.

build and broadcast your employer brand
All the rest of the steps to attracting millennials will fall in line after you've perfected your employer brand. 

A majority of millennials are interested in working for companies that:

  • employ socially responsible business practices

  • provide flexible scheduling 

  • prioritize continued training and development

How and where you communicate these features will fall under your employer brand strategy. To get started: 

  1. See what people are saying: Visit company review sites and social media accounts to get a pulse of the public perception of your firm.

  2. Craft your messaging: Think deeply about what you want the world to know about your firm, like what sets it apart from the competition.

  3. Get the word out: Carefully select the best channels to broadcast your new message. Since we're focused on millennials, Facebook and Instagram are probably your best bets. 

go where they go 
As we mentioned, millennials are looking for job opportunities online, but not all platforms are created equal. Our research found some of their favorites sources to be:

72 percent company career websites59 percent social networks56 percent job boards

It doesn't matter if they've found an opening on your website, social media account or an independent job board — they're going to come into contact with your job posting next, so you'll want to make sure you know how to write a great one

company career websites, social networks and job boards were some of millennials' favorite channels to search for jobs.

provide career development and training 
According to Gallup, 59 percent of millennials say "opportunities to learn and grow are extremely important to them when applying for a job," so if you as an employer can quench this generational thirst for knowledge, you'll be in a better position to attract younger candidates. 

Organize mentorship programs to pair more experienced workers with new hires. Talk with your employees to find out what skills they're interested in acquiring and design programs accordingly. This can be doubly beneficial, because in addition to training and development, millennials are more interested in working for organizations that can clearly communicate an internal path to advancement. 

trends arrow turquoise illustrationtrend:
firms are taking too long to hire

how that affects you:
makes you less competitive for top talent

accelerate your hiring cycles

Top talent is on the market for as little as 10 days, and that's troubling given how competitive the hiring market already is for accounting and finance candidates. That's an incredibly small window to hit, and unfortunately, many firms seem to be coming up short. Fifty-three percent of the over 500 U.S. hiring managers in accounting, finance and HR that we surveyed said that it takes them two to three months to fill a direct-hire vacancy.* 

53 percent pie chart53% of finance, accounting and HR hiring leaders said it typically takes them 2 to 3 months to fill a direct-hire position.

If this sounds familiar, follow these steps to speed up your hiring cycle and stay competitive for talent: 

  • Plan in advance: By forecasting future talent needs (and sourcing candidates well before a need arises), you'll be able to hit the ground running when vacancies do appear. 

  • Improve your job postings: Stellar job postings aren't just for attracting millennials — a great job ad will attract everyone and give you a higher volume of qualified candidates to choose from.

  • Choose the right sourcing channels: You already know you can attract millennial candidates by searching online, but what about everyone else? Speed up your hiring process by focusing on the channels that will give you the biggest bang for your buck. For instance, attend job fairs for Gen Z workers or start an employee referral program to find baby boomers. 

trends arrow turquoise illustration trend:
tech skills gap

how that affects you:
prevents your firm from moving forward 

conduct a skills gap analysis and upskill workers 

Technology continues to be an essential part of the accounting and finance professional's toolkit. However, tech integration is still moving faster than the pace of training. 

Over 50 percent of finance leaders believe their teams' competencies must "change significantly" over the next few years in order to account for new workplace technologies. And yet, 69 percent still haven't performed a skills-gap analysis to take stock of their teams' strengths and identify weaknesses to fix in the future.*

50 percent pie chart50% of finance leaders said their teams' competencies must "change significantly" over the next few years to account for new workplace tech.

Here's what you can do to overcome this:

  • Conduct a skills-gap analysis: You don't want to get caught off guard in the future. Assess the current capabilities of your staff to identify your strengths and weaknesses.

  • Upskill where you can: With competition for candidates so high, upskilling your existing workers can help you prepare for digital transformation without having to navigate the tight talent market. 

  • Enlist agile talent: For needs that can't be addressed internally, widen your search to include agile talent. Agile workers, like freelancers, consultants or contingent talent, can provide you with the skill sets you need to hold you over until you find the right full-time hire.

key takeaways

Accounting and finance roles are expected to grow steadily, yet competition for talent remains fierce. Hiring cycles across the industry are taking too long, making it even harder for employers to find skilled talent. To make matters worse, the accounting and finance workforce happens to be aging at the exact time large-scale digital transformations need to be made in order to keep their firms relevant. To avoid getting overtaken by these trends:

  • Tailor your hiring approach to attract millennial talent. 

  • Work on accelerating your hiring cycles to stay competitive for the market's most sought-after candidates.

  • Conduct a skills-gap analysis and upskill existing workers in order to prepare your firm for a digital transformation. 

We've found these trends to the most dominant across the space, and following these tips will help you hire for any position in accounting and finance. But taking your hiring approach even further — and tailoring it to align with the specificities of each individual position you're looking to fill — will give you can even greater edge over the competition. 

Visit our How to Hire page to search for the roles you’re looking to recruit for, and get individualized tips on how to land the perfect candidates. 

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* Randstad US, "randstad professionals: client survey executive summary." 2019.

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