If you have several years of experience as an accountant with a wide range of responsibilities, now is a great time to explore your career options. Many employers are having difficulty filling accounting jobs, especially in private companies where accountants are responsible for forecasting, financial planning and financial analysis. If you have experience managing these activities, you might be able to negotiate a higher salary or better benefits package with a new employer.
Robert Half, a staffing services firm, surveyed more than 2,000 chief financial officers to determine how long it takes to fill accounting jobs. The respondents indicated it takes an average of four weeks to fill a staff-level job and an average of five weeks to fill a management-level accounting position. There are several reasons it takes so long to fill accounting jobs, one of which is the variety of skills necessary for success in this profession. Jeff Thomson, the CEO of the Institute of Management Accountants, says there is a gap between the skills taught in accounting degree programs and the strategic business skills required by employers. One way to overcome this gap is to participate in a mentoring program or take as many continuing education courses as possible.
Another reason why it is so difficult to fill accounting jobs is because of the changing demands of the profession. In the past, accountants were responsible for preparing budgets and making financial calculations. Accountants are now responsible for making strategic decisions and managing compliance activities for their employers. If you want an advanced job with these responsibilities, you must have advanced accounting skills. One way to show recruiters you are serious about advancing your career is to get a graduate degree or obtain a relevant professional certification.
If you are responsible for filling accounting jobs at your firm, there are several ways to ensure you identify the best candidates. Richard D. Alaniz, a senior partner at an employment and labor law firm in Houston, recommends asking consistent questions and using a simple rating scale to rank potential employees. Panel interviews are a good way to determine if everyone on your team believes a candidate has the accounting skills and personality traits necessary to succeed. If you have several open accounting jobs, use the same process to fill each one.
An accountant's role is always evolving, so strengthen your profile as an applicant by taking advantage of continuing education and mentorship opportunities. If you set yourself apart from other candidates, you have a better chance of getting the job you really want. If you are in charge of filling open accounting jobs, develop a set of unbiased interview questions to help you determine which candidates have what it takes to succeed in your organization.
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