How Can You Make the Most of the Accounting and Finance Job Market?

By Robert Half July 17, 2017 at 6:00am

In today’s accounting and finance job market, unemployment rates are low, and specialized talent is in high demand. This situation is magnified with a short supply of accountants and experienced finance staff, such as financial analysts. What does this mean for you, if you’re looking for a job? Plenty.

According to the latest report from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics for the second quarter of 2017, finance and accounting positions have unemployment rates well below the national rate of 4.4 percent.

Statistics like these, showing the unemployment rates by occupation, demonstrate how job seekers have the upper hand in today’s finance job market:

  • Purchasing managers: 1.1%
  • Payroll and timekeeping clerks: 1.4%
  • Compliance officers: 1.8%
  • Financial managers: 1.8%
  • Bookkeeping, accounting, and auditing clerks: 2.0%
  • Loan interviewers and clerks: 2.0%
  • Accountants and auditors: 2.2%
  • Securities, commodities, and financial services sales agents: 2.3%
  • Financial analysts: 2.5%

What’s more, in our 2017 Benchmarking the Accounting and Finance Function report, 62 percent of large companies said their accounting and finance teams are at least somewhat understaffed, citing challenges in finding skilled talent in the hiring process.

With multiple options available in this accounting and finance job market, candidates like you are in the driver’s seat. Where do you want to go? What do you want to do? Here are seven things to keep in mind if you want to make the most of your job search and pick a company that is right for you:

1. Narrow down an industry and location

Have you weighed the prospects of working in public versus private accounting? Both offer very different career paths. Another consideration is industry. As an accounting and finance professional, you have a large choice of industries, including healthcare, manufacturing, real estate, technology, construction, financial services and more. And there are further breakdowns within each industry, such as investment and commercial banking.

As for location, think about whether you are willing to move to a different city or part of the country or whether you'd prefer to stay where you are right now.

2. Consider what role you’d like

You should assess all the different opportunities available in the accounting and finance field. A mentor can help with this, and your personal network may be useful, too. Joining a professional organization is another great way to network and learn more about the different roles.

3. Research companies

It’s important when you’re looking for jobs that you consider company culture and find an organization with similar values to your own. A compatible office environment can really make a difference at work.

4. Evaluate your career path and credentials

Certain credentials, education or skills may give you a leg up when applying for a position. If you are having trouble securing the position you want, consider boosting your skillset with professional development, including getting a CPA or another certification.

5. Search for finance and accounting jobs

A professional recruiter can help you find the right fit for you. Once you find jobs you’re interested in, start sending out applications and following up with hiring managers.

Find out how we help you find a job, and submit your resume.

6. Prepare for an interview

If you are selected for an interview, you can prepare by researching the company and coming up with questions of your own. Being well informed about the company is a great way to show your dedication and stand out from other applicants. It may also be useful to showcase your career lessons.

7. Research salaries and prepare to negotiate

Accountants today have negotiating power in their favor to command a competitive salary. You should strive for a complete compensation package including benefits, stocks and vacation time. You can read our Salary Guide for up-to-date salary ranges for more than 400 accounting and finance positions.

If you are interested in a career change, switching to accounting and finance may be a good choice in today’s market. Such a career leap may even increase your chances of landing a better paying position.

Below-average unemployment rates have given job seekers the upper hand in today’s finance job market. Now is the time for candidates to determine their ideal work situation, search for jobs and ace the interview. This is especially true for finance and accounting professionals, who have room to thoroughly evaluate employment opportunities and pick the right fit for them.

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