The unemployment rate for accountants and auditors dropped to 1.7 percent in the third quarter of 2018, notably lower than the 3.7 percent national unemployment rate, according to the latest quarterly report from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).
It’s a candidate’s market, so this means employers are in pursuit of accounting and finance professionals to hire. It’s not just the accountant unemployment rate that’s low; the third-quarter hiring report shows jobless rates are trending well below the national average for other specialized roles in finance and accounting, including the following:
- Financial analysts 1.1%
- Financial managers: 1.5%
- Accountants and auditors: 1.7%
- Bookkeeping, accounting and auditing clerks: 2.8%
- Billing and posting clerks: 3.0%
- Compliance officers: 2.3%
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What the unemployment rate means for employers
“With shrinking pools in the finance and accounting sectors, labor shortages have emerged across a variety of industries,” says Steve Saah, global executive director of Robert Half Finance & Accounting. “Employers are having difficulty finding experienced candidates, especially financial managers and analysts.”
Saah says one piece of advice for employers, given the historically low unemployment rates for finance and accounting professionals, is to be more flexible in the hiring process. If you’re unable to find a perfect candidate who meets every criterion, consider providing accounting job training for what’s missing.
Another tactic is to expand your reach. Don’t depend entirely on social media to post job openings. Cast a wide net and augment your efforts by by networking and tapping your existing employees as a resource for referrals. Consider working with a full-service staffing firm that can help you find skilled professionals who are not actively seeking work but would jump at the right position if it came along.
What the unemployment rate means for job seekers
It’s a candidate-driven market right now, but does that mean every job search will be a cinch and that you don't need any resume writing tips? Even in this labor market, employers are selective in their hiring as they look for accounting and finance professionals with the right skill set who add value to their organization and fit into its corporate culture.
“The first step for job seekers is to craft their very best resume and use discretion in where you apply,” says Saah. “Make sure it’s customized for the job description and the employer. Proving you have excellent attention to detail starts here. Then, if your resume is compelling, it may lead to an interview, which is your chance to get your foot in the door.”
Managers typically review 40 resumes for every job opening, a Robert Half survey shows, and after spending an average of 12 minutes on each resume, they interview seven candidates to verify their experience and evaluate their skills.
Getting the right resume to the right employer at the right time can be a matter of luck or a choreographed event. No matter what the accountant unemployment rate is, working with a staffing firm can help you uncover opportunities that match your skill set — and your dream job in accounting and finance.
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Steve Saah is the executive director for Robert Half Finance & Accounting, the world’s first and largest specialized financial recruitment service. The company has more than 300 locations worldwide. He is responsible for leading worldwide operations, based in the Washington, D.C., metropolitan area.