Has your career progression stalled during the pandemic? You’re not alone.

Having received a lot of feedback from candidates and hiring managers about lack of career progression during the pandemic, we commissioned a survey to take a deeper look at the trends. Co-founder, Rory MacSween, gives his insights from the market and takes us through the findings.

How has the pandemic affected career progression?

It’s unsurprising that many finance, accounting and tax professionals have felt their career progression stall during the pandemic. In fact, our recent survey showed that a third of people felt it adversely affected their development – but there were some surprising results too.

For many, expectations of progression have been lowered because of company and industry disruption. For others, health and family issues have taken focus away from careers. Up until now, we’ve seen a pragmatic attitude at play, with most professionals accepting the status quo as their peers aren’t being promoted either.

30% of employees say their career progression stalled during the pandemic

However, there’s been a dramatic shift in the jobs market in the last few weeks. Hiring managers are starting to feel their team’s frustrations with an increase in resignations. Good people are getting multiple job offers and candidates are becoming pickier. 

Our survey also showed 52% said the pandemic hadn’t changed progression opportunities and 17% actually felt there were some positive career outcomes from the pandemic. Personally, I haven’t spoken to anyone who feels they’ve made good ground with their career. However, I would say that some finance and tax professionals have used the time as an opportunity for reflection on what they like and dislike about their role and this has prompted some positive conversations for future development. 

Survey carried out by SRM Recruitment - how career progression has been affected during the pandemic.

What to do if your career progression has stalled 

If the conversation isn’t forthcoming from your boss, then you should instigate a meeting with them before entering the job market. If there are particular aspects lacking in the role, it’s better to talk about it now, rather than after you’ve been through an external job process. Using a job offer to get what you want can be a dangerous strategy and erode trust and good will. 

What can hiring managers do?

A lot of hiring managers I’m speaking to have felt removed from their teams during the last 18 months. Without being able to take the temperature of the team and informally check in with people, those impromptu conversations that lead to more serious meetings on role development haven’t happened. 

Discuss career development

As we return to the office, there’s a huge opportunity to put career development back on the agenda. Don’t delay having those conversations and I’d say it’s not all about budget either. Think about how exposure to new projects or technical skills can give people the CV growth they’re looking for and develop them in the role. 

More appraisal

Getting back to regular appraisals is also a key retention tool – some managers have put them on the back burner so make sure they’re high on your agenda. It really boils down to having those honest conversations.


We’re also seeing a rise in things like team-wide holidays or even organisation-wide days or weeks off as a reward for working extra hours during the pandemic. Some are offering covid thank you bonuses too.

The key message I want to get across is don’t assume people aren’t moving roles. The grass isn’t always greener but there is a very active jobs market right now and job seekers can achieve the change they want.

Get In Touch

If you’re a hiring manager and need advice or help to hire finance and accounting professionals, or if you’re looking for your next role, get in touch with Rory MacSween today on +44 7960 983331, email rorymacsween@srmrecruitment.com or connect with him on LinkedIn.

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