How is the employment market currently looking for accountants?
The job market has certainly improved. We are seeing some differences across the country with the eastern seaboard definitely improving and it's slowly trickling across the country. They’re reporting from South Australia that they are starting to see some movement and WA is a little bit slower but it is still positive over there, just not quite the same as here.
The eastern seaboard is looking much busier and on the up and we are starting to see organisations coming to us looking for very junior candidates which they haven’t for quite a number of years. That shows us their needs are really high and also that candidate shortages are starting to appear.
Is there strong demand for graduates?
Not necessarily just graduates but all junior level positions. Looking at the junior accounts, clerk-type level, or accounts payable officers, or people just starting in finance for the first time – demand has picked up for all of them. We've had a few clients, not lots, but a few clients starting to ask us for people with no experience, or people with six months experience – not necessarily wanting graduates, but certainly that more junior-end of the scheme. When things got tough all those years ago that was the first thing to go so the fact that this is now coming back and people are looking for these candidates again is a really strong sign for the industry.
What type of accountant is in the highest demand?
It’s still the commercial analyst type of person that a lot of people are looking for. What we are seeing at the more senior end of the market is that there are not many traditional, straight financial accountants or management accountants – organisations really are looking for people who have got something more. There is definitely a need for commercially minded accountants and the ones who have got good analytical skills, but also nearly every job nowadays is looking for a particular IT or software skill and they need people to be very, very savvy on that to use it in their role. It’s definitely people who have got more than just traditional accounting skills that people are looking for at the moment.
How is the demand for accountants from accounting firms?
On Monday alone we had 10 different vacancies come in from the chartered firms – we are really seeing a pick up in that. Business services have always been busy but things right across the board at the minute are improving. The big four seem to be busier again, recruiting a lot of quite niche roles for niche divisions within private clients or high net worth people and they are looking for quite specialised skills there. But, yes we are starting to see the professional market really pick up and one of the trends we are seeing is that a lot of the CA firms are now looking for temps, which they haven’t really recruited for a number of years. We are seeing this demand across the country, which again just shows me where things are going.
What type of things do candidates usually look for in a potential employer?
I think that’s probably a hard one because there are still candidates out there that are desperate for a new job and are probably keen to hear about anything. There are, however, some candidates that are getting two or three offers at one time and having to make a decision between them, which is obviously a great thing. Really, the people who are offering them actual careers are most successful in attracting talent. There are a lot of organisations where you go in and your job is not going anywhere. Candidates are really attracted to people who can offer them progression in their career and something that is going to change in their job. Also, stability in the organisation is key as they want to know they are joining somewhere that they will still be part of in three or four years’ time and they’re not likely to be made redundant or the company to fold.
How do you see the market performing over the next 12 months?
At the minute what we are seeing is increased candidate shortage in the market, that is going to – at some point, and it’s probably a little bit soon yet – but that will at some point start driving salaries up as demand gets higher. We are optimistic about where it’s going for the next 12 months as we are definitely seeing growth and improvement.
How can accountants make themselves more attractive to employers?
I think you need to make sure you are very, very systems-savvy and that is every role right down to the junior accounts payable roles. They need to get themselves across as many packages as they possibly can – the more packages they are good at will increase their opportunities and their chances of getting a role because some organisations are being very specific and are saying they have to have 'X' and if accountants don’t have it they can’t do this job. Definitely getting across as many systems as possible would be my big recommendation.