The unemployment rate for accountants and auditors remained at 1.9 percent in the first quarter of 2018, lower than a year ago when it was 3.1 percent, and even lower than the 4.1 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 candidates and need to be in “sell mode” of their companies and benefits. It’s not just the accountant unemployment rate that’s low; the first-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 managers: 0.5%
- Financial analysts: 0.7%
- Accountants and auditors: 1.9%
- Bookkeeping, accounting and auditing clerks: 2.0%
- Billing and posting clerks: 3.0%
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 low rates for finance and accounting professionals, is to put a strong, well-defined hiring process in place. Another important 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 knowing how to network and tapping your existing employees as a resource for referrals. Consider working with a full-service staffing firm that can help you find highly skilled workers 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? 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 recent 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.
Steve Saah is the global executive director for Robert Half Finance & Accounting, where he is responsible for leading worldwide operations. He is based in Washington, D.C. He started with Robert Half in 1998 as a recruiting manager. Prior to that, he worked as an internal auditor and assistant controller for a multi-billion-dollar manufacturing firm. He’s a graduate of Virginia Tech.