Chicago's Hottest Finance Jobs: What's on the Horizon for Q4 and Beyond?

A quick assessment of recent employment data will tell you that the job market is starting to heat up: The national unemployment rate fell to 5.9 percent in September, the first time it’s been below 6 percent since July 2008. And here in Illinois, the unemployment rate fell for the sixth consecutive month to 6.7 percent in August, while employers created more than 13,800 jobs.

'Help wanted,' say Chicagoland employers

That all sounds promising, but what about the outlook for finance jobs and other professional roles in Chicago? Another thumbs up, according to Robert Half's first-ever Chicago Professional Employment Forecast. Nine percent of Chicago finance execs we polled will be creating new jobs in the next six months. Seventy-nine percent won’t be adding to their teams, but they will be filling vacated positions. In total, 88 percent of financial executives in Chicago are open to hiring in the next six months - not too shabby!

The results also show that only a few firms are moving in the opposite direction: Nine percent of Chicago finance executives don’t plan to fill vacated positions or create new ones, while just two percent plan to eliminate jobs. What’s more significant is that the majority of Chicago CFOs - 92 percent, to be exact - are confident in their company's growth potential for the next six months. That means the hiring trend is likely to last.

In Chicago, demand is highest for accounting and finance candidates with specialized skill sets, according to Marilyn Bird, district president for Robert Half in Chicago. When filling finance jobs, our team in Chicago is seeing increased demand for staff and senior accountants, controllers, financial analysts and business analysts. With the high demand for certain roles, 68 percent of Chicago CFOs said that it’s challenging to find skilled candidates for professional-level positions.

Candidate can feel comfortable asking for more

Another plus: More salary negotiations are taking place. Forty-three percent of Chicago CFOs surveyed said they’re more willing to negotiate salaries than they were 12 months ago. Just 11 percent said they are less willing to negotiate salaries compared to a year ago. New research from Robert Half also reveals that employers are more willing to discuss salary early in the hiring process - 31 percent of senior managers believe it's OK to ask about salary and benefits in the first interview. Learn more about salary and hiring trends for finance jobs with Robert Half's just-released 2015 Salary Guide.

How can you distinguish yourself?

Certifications are one way professionals are distinguishing themselves from other candidates in the search for finance jobs. In Chicago, accounting and financial certifications employers want to see include the chartered financial analyst (CFA), certified internal auditor (CIA) and certified information systems auditor (CISA) designations.

Chicago employers are also seeking financial professionals who can take business intelligence and turn it into business strategy. Besides technical skills, there's a constant demand for professionals with communications skills and the ability to explain the implications behind the numbers.

To remain in the loop on trends affecting finance jobs in Chicago, check back for new posts and research or feel free to reach out to a staffing expert in one of our Accountemps, Robert Half Finance & Accounting or Robert Half Management Resources locations in Chicago.'