Why you need to hire accountants now

Andrew Setchell, co-founder of SRM, discusses the finance and accounting recruitment market post lockdown, why smart companies aren’t waiting to hire accountants and what you need to know when hiring.

Despite an almost 60% drop in vacancies in the three months to June 2020, advertised jobs have actually increased month on month during the summer. 

People are still getting jobs. Companies are still hiring. Of course, some sectors are still deeply affected but others are thriving. Businesses are adapting and quickly.

Talent focused organisations thrive 

The economic outlook for the UK appears alarming. But companies that buy into that gloom, rather than look for the opportunity will not survive. We saw that in the last two recessions in living memory. Companies who focused on their talent pipeline bounced back.

I’ve been recruiting for 24 years now and believe this recession will be deep but quick. Much more like 1992, where we saw a strong come back in 1994-1999 and less like 2008/9. During the financial crisis, bankers had less money to lend, but now cash isn’t the issue. 

Businesses need talented accountants and finance professionals more than ever

Without finance and accounting professionals, companies can’t forecast where the business will get to. It’s sheltered finance functions from the worst of the Covid fallout but there are still dangers ahead. Don’t stop making the business case for a strong finance function and the critical decision making information you require to positively impact the business. 

You’ll lose good people

Most finance teams are lean already and if you’ve had a resignation during Covid, or recruitment has been on hold, candidates are telling us that the impact and mental stress on them and their teams is considerable. Analyse the impact of not hiring.

I’ve spoken to two hiring managers this week who genuinely had no idea resignations were coming. It’s a growing issue with a dispersed workforce and one to be aware of. 

Good accountants and finance professionals don’t stay on the market long 

The perception is that it’s a hiring managers market. Yes, the volume of candidates has increased but highly skilled candidates are still in short supply. Some hiring managers are delaying decisions in the belief that there are plenty of good people but they will miss out as many organisations are upskilling now to take them through the next business cycle. 

We are seeing 300+ applications per vacancy and the challenge for hiring managers is sifting through that volume to find the right candidates. A word of warning, the proportion of applicable candidates for a role hasn’t risen in line with the growth in numbers, so beware.

Because you can still hire effectively

Hiring is happening and you can effectively hire people remotely. Candidates are often being hired without physically meeting anyone in the organisation and are settling well into their roles. And we’re adapting as we venture out of lockdown, for example, our clients and candidates have conducted interviews while walking in parks or socially distanced at outdoor cafes. 

What you need to know as a hiring manager and candidate

Packages, flexible working and the human element

Most candidates now want more flexible working – it’s the norm. Yet many people are missing the human interaction of the office, particularly the younger newly qualified accountants we’re talking to. So don’t forget that you’ll need to sell your digital and office work environment when hiring and think carefully about building community.

Packages aren’t changing. Not for good quality candidates. The price point is the same as February. 

Where to look if you’re a candidate – thriving sectors 

Tech companies from big to small are doing well. Gaming, gambling, media, e-commerce and some retail businesses from ebooks to biking are doing well. Pharma, biotech and construction companies are also hiring, despite the current trend away from offices. Many parts of financial services continue to thrive too. 

Leisure, hospitality and retail are obviously suffering and recruitment isn’t necessarily a priority. Having said that, I spoke to a major restaurant chain this week who are looking for a second in command for their finance team. So there are opportunities.

Advice for finance candidates looking for a job post covid-19 lockdown 

Remember that you are good and stay confident – talented people are always in demand. Look to one of the sectors above and target your search carefully. Don’t just apply for every role you see, your reputation is important.

Get in touch

If you’re looking to hire the very best talent in finance and accounting please do get in touch with me today. Or connect with me on LinkedIn. At SRM, we are real recruiters who actively headhunt the best talent, rather than rely on the same set of candidates from a database.

Andrew Setchell, CEO at SRM Recruitment
Andrew Setchell

Andrew Setchell is CEO of SRM Recruitment. He began his recruitment career in 1996 having previously spent 4 years with PWC as an Accountant. He has an extensive background sourcing for a multitude of businesses, partnerships and organisations across the finance and accounting market place.

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