Something unexpected has occurred since the pandemic began and that is instead of people not being able to find a job, jobs are not being able to find people to work. In this article from NBC News, it's reported that the number of job vacancies soared to nearly 15 million by mid-March, but discouraged, hesitant, and fearful job seekers mean many positions are still unfilled, according to new data from online job site ZipRecruiter.
There are also plenty of good reasons for workers to still hang back, from ongoing concerns about the coronavirus to childcare and managing remote learning, to family obligations, to hold out for better opportunities. Economic impact payments, or stimulus checks, have also played a factor for some who are sitting out the labor market, some employers say. Factory owners and employers lament that the generosity of unemployment benefits and stimulus payments have some workers avoiding returning to work because they make more money not working.
While other industries are experiencing challenges with talent acquisition, they are particularly acute in the financial services sector. "About a quarter of CEOs said they had already had to cancel or delay a key strategic initiative in the past 12 months because the right people were not available to execute it," this PwC report on the state of millennials in the financial sector states.
Globally, accounting and finance roles (certified accountants, auditors, financial analysts) ranked seventh out of 10 positions that are the hardest to fill. In the U.S., accounting and finance roles ranked fifth out of 10 jobs that are the hardest to fill. This article from Personiv states the following:
- 81% of finance leaders say they have difficulty finding accounting talent
- 71% say recruiting is top of mind
- 50% say that lower-level talent is the hardest to find
However, there is a flip side to this dilemma, and that is the lack of range of talent accounting job seekers possess. Even though accounting firms are having a hard time finding potential employees with accounting skills, the applicants often only have basic bookkeeping and tax preparation skills, which is no longer enough to fill the needs of accounting firms. In our modern times, an accountant must be much more than a bean counter.
An accounting professional needs to have data analysis and other technological skills. The majority of accountants work in business and are required to handle a broad range of responsibilities beyond taxes, including financial planning, analysis, forecasting, internal controls, and decision support. They are expected to be trusted advisors who can interpret the numbers to direct corporate strategy. With the advent of AI and other automation tools, potential employees of accounting firms must also be very tech-savvy.
So what is the solution from both parties, both the applicant for an accounting job and the accounting firm seeking talent? This article from Forbes states, "employers can make greater efforts to offer internships, as well as on-the-job training, mentoring and professional development support for employees, and they can ensure accounting and finance teams remain current in their knowledge of the profession."
From the job seeker standpoint, accounting professionals must be dedicated to becoming more than “number crunchers” by developing their own leadership, technological, and business skills – which can be accomplished through a combination of continuing education, mentoring, volunteerism, certification, internships, and apprenticeships.
Still, even though there are challenges for both accounting firms and accounting professionals looking for a job, the fact remains that if you have accounting talent you are definitely in high demand. To polish up your resume, the Rules of Thumb blog from MoneyThumb suggests you take the above advice so that you can obtain the best possible accounting position. Just look at any of the advice you follow as great preparation for a successful future.