Employers Say Accounting Jobs Are Hard to Fill

Matt Shelly
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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.


(Photo courtesy of cuteimage / freedigitalphotos.net)


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  • Moore T.
    Moore T.

    I have 17 years or experience of payroll .

  • Jaclyn Silvers
    Jaclyn Silvers


  • Rana S.
    Rana S.

    I have been looking for a permanent hire job for. 5 months. I ended up taking a contract position. They are not having problems finding qualified accountants in Houston.

  • ansumana K.
    ansumana K.

    As accountants in the field we need total involvement in our work because the document we play with stand to be life wire of any organization

  • Elizabeth C.
    Elizabeth C.

    My daughter is starting college in the fall, her major is mathematics and statistics. She was told by her counselor she would have no problems getting a job in her future (accounting included) . After reviewing this article and comments it makes me concerned about her options. Any comment would be appreciated.

  • Brian H.
    Brian H.

    These comments are worrisome to me. I will graduate with my BA in December, and am not happy to see so many people who will be much better qualified than I struggling to fund jobs in the field. :(

  • regina laramie
    regina laramie

    I love accounting and auditing just have to work from home which in turn saves money for the emoyer

  • Jay Faust
    Jay Faust

    See below for ONE. Now for TWO: The second area, and it involves the HR professionals, is salary. Salary has been bid down (lowered in real terms) by an "less than fully competent" new candidate selection/hiring process; also by a mentality to generally hire "cheaper" and show a budget improvement. Some of the inefficiency (or efficiency, depending on your perspective) relates to the frustrations engendered among applicants. Because fully competent applicants are so easily passed over, their frustrations eventually add to a bidding war (downward) for salaries. "Applicants have missed so many positions for which they are either fully qualified, or even overqualified, that their sense of self worth gets reduced, thus, becoming willing to accept a lower salary than might normally be considered for their talents. There is not enough space here to discuss this issue fully, but the point is that wages have been attenuated or kept from rising, possibly even reduced for too many job titles. Again, there is not enough space to fully discuss all of this. Jobs have been shipped overseas (past tense) so much that where we are today is understandable. Suppliers of capital want cheap labor (but with superb skills) so that is just about what is happening. The struggle between labor and owners has always and will always continue. It is a good struggle and necessary, just not fun when, as I noted earlier, a frustratingly, almost incomprehensible hiring process thumps applicant confidence, beats them down psychologically, and probably results in a lot of liars being hired to fit the square holes advertised.

  • Jay Faust
    Jay Faust

    I agree with the comments of the other people posted here. I will comment on 2 AREAS. ONE: I believe the problem of experienced, competent accountants finding jobs is that experienced, competent HR professionals have, for two decades, considered it their role to screen applicants, from accountants to zoologists. These HR people cannot possibly understand the skill-sets of all these professions (or many professions outside of their own), but what they do understand is that "a square peg fits in a square hole." Similarly, the actual hiring manager (i.e. a CFO, VP of Engineering, etc.) also understands the "square peg principle." So, both groups, the HR screeners and the hiring managers, minimize their risk by choosing "square pegs" (i.e. the warm bodies that claim via resume and questioning that they have used the same software and have had the same or similar job titles). Again, this is human nature to take the less risky approach.

  • Katherine M.
    Katherine M.

    I have a bs in accounting and a ms in management 25 years of experience in accounting from original entry through financial statements, been unemployed for many years, seaching diligently, meet all of the job duties listed by the company except for the years of software experience, so remain unemployed. It seems to me that there is over a hundred different accounting software packages in existence and counting.

  • Beverly W.
    Beverly W.

    I agree that job requirements are very specific as to industry or and MBAs are strongly preferred. I just had my 18th interview. I've been unemployed for seven months. I ask employers for feedback on why I wasn't selected and have been told that other candidates have more specific experience or that I didn't score the highest on their interview point system. When asked if there was anything specific that eliminated me, I have been told, no. Also, employers say that it makes no difference that I am currently unemployed but I think it's definitely easier to get a job, when you have a job. With so many unemployed, I think its an employer's market.

  • Michael A.
    Michael A.

    Have 23 years experience in accounting.... lost my job (where I was employed for 15 yrs) because of downsizing. Seems there are jobs out there, but employers are being very selective... it's a tough market & employers can pick and choose... so many people are unemployed..

  • Paul W.
    Paul W.

    I totally agree with everyone below. I have many years of experience in public accounting, yet the ads are so job specific in nature as to what they are looking for, no, make that what they are demanding, that a generalist background is of no use. This is especially true with computer packages. If you don't have years of experience in the software they use, they don't want to wait until you learn it. I'll take the initiative, but give me the opportunity.

  • Judy Thomas
    Judy Thomas

    I agree with all the other comments...I've been applying for entry level accounting positions since i don't have a degree and i've gotten nowhere.....where are these jobs? don't believe this article at all.

  • Robbie G.
    Robbie G.

    Where are these employers that cannot fill the openings that they need to fill?

  • Robbie G.
    Robbie G.

    I have been looking for accounting jobs for quite a while and nothing is coming from my search. So where are these employers that can

  • Jennifer G.
    Jennifer G.

    The problem is that employers are only hiring candidates that qualify them for tax credits. I've been experiencing this for years. I have over 10 years experience in Accounting with a MS degree in Accounting w/ a focus on Taxation. If there is a choice between hiring qualified or tax credit; they usually choose the tax credit over the qualified.

  • Bob A.
    Bob A.

    Very hard to believe - I have applied to numerous positions which I qualify, never a response. This is eastern USA as I will relocate.

  • Michael S.
    Michael S.

    So if so hard to fill why after som many resumes being sent out am I not getting interviews and/or job offers

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