Traditionally, accounting has consistently witnessed high professional demand, resulting in low unemployment rates. The services of accountants are essential across various industries. However, individuals seeking to become licensed accountants must navigate the rigorous Certified Public Accountant (CPA) examination. This stringent qualification requirement narrows the candidate pool, leading employers to compete for a limited number of qualified professionals.
In 2023, the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) documented a significant workforce shift in the United States. More than 300,000 accountants and auditors chose to leave their positions over the past two years. This departure represents a substantial 17% decline in employment levels within these roles compared to 2019. In addition to this trend, there is a noticeable decrease in college students pursuing accounting degrees. These collective factors now contribute to a growing gap in the job market, with an estimated annual average of 136,400 job openings for accountants and auditors projected for the next decade. How are businesses adapting to shortages in accounting and finance? Here are hiring trends and strategies for staffing challenges.
Accounting and Finance Hiring Trends – A Key Strategy to Attract Accounting and Finance Professionals
One significant challenge in attracting talent to accounting jobs is the perception of long working hours and a need for work-life balance. Some reports mention many accountants and auditors in the 25-to-54-year-old age group have left their roles for positions in technology and finance due to factors such as burnout and high workloads. To address this issue, businesses hiring for accounting and finance roles can highlight how these positions support work-life balance. Strategies include hiring additional staff to distribute workloads evenly over regular hours and offering benefits like work-from-home options, flexible scheduling, and access to mental health resources.
Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DE&I) Efforts
Younger professionals in the accounting and finance sector are increasingly interested in diversity, equity, and inclusion (DE&I) efforts. “The CPA Journal” reports that many Millennial and Gen Z professionals prefer companies with clear commitments to DE&I. Lack of diversity in the workplace, particularly in leadership positions, can drive these younger workers to seek employment at more diverse companies. Firms should focus on diversifying their workforce and leadership teams to attract and retain top talent in this age group. They can also create DE&I strategies to promote inclusion. Companies should ensure diverse representation and actively promote their DE&I efforts when recruiting at universities or participating in conferences.
Salary is a primary consideration when evaluating job opportunities, especially in accounting and finance. In March 2023, the Federal Reserve Bank of New York Center for Microeconomic Data reported that the average minimum wage at which individuals would consider a new job reached an all-time high of $75,811, up from $73,667 in November 2022. To attract top talent, businesses hiring accountants and finance professionals must offer competitive compensation packages.
Firms can determine fair wage offers using national, state, and local data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics and PayScale. Consider including a salary range in job descriptions, as LinkedIn research indicates that 91% of job seekers are influenced by this information when deciding whether to apply for a position. Transparent salary information can help attract candidates within your budget.
Contract Roles: A Flexible Solution to Address Staffing Gaps
Many companies are now integrating contract roles alongside their full-time positions to meet immediate accounting and finance needs while tackling talent shortages. This approach helps bridge talent gaps and provides a practical way to evaluate potential long-term employees. A
Contract roles offer transitional employees opportunities for temporary work while allowing companies to assess candidates before making full-time commitments. Employing contractors will enable companies to access the necessary expertise without the immediate obligation of offering full-time benefits. This approach can be a cost-effective interim solution while companies devise more sustainable staffing strategies.
Enhanced Reskilling and Training Initiatives
In response to accounting and finance labor shortages, companies are implementing reskilling and training programs to check into the potential of their existing workforce. Businesses identify employees with transferable skills and provide training opportunities to acquire new competencies and transition into accounting and finance roles. Furthermore, companies are proactively engaging with university and high school educational institutions to establish talent pipelines. By connecting with local schools, companies can nurture and identify accounting and finance prospects early in their education. Some organizations even offer tuition reimbursement to employees seeking certifications or degrees in accounting and finance, thereby investing in workforce development.
Leveraging External Recruitment Partners
Many companies are turning to external recruitment firms for assistance to meet the pressing demand for accounting and finance professionals. Specialized recruitment agencies focusing on accounting and finance have extensive networks of active and passive job seekers. Employee turnover can be particularly costly, especially for higher-paying positions, with replacement costs reaching around one-third of an annual salary for each vacancy. Recruitment agencies can help companies identify candidates genuinely interested in a role, increasing the likelihood of long-term employment. These agencies can also facilitate connections with contract workers and professionals open to contract-to-hire arrangements. Recruitment and hiring strategies are customized to meet each company’s needs, ensuring a tailored approach to addressing workforce requirements.
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