Accountants: Should You Delay Your Job Search for Your Year-End Bonus?

As the new year swiftly approaches, many of you will resolve to do a lot of things in 2015.  While some will pledge to save money or hit the gym more often, others will be determined to find a new job.  However, if you are an accounting professional, should you really wait until next year to start your job search, or at least begin exploring your options?

“The demand from our clients for qualified accounting candidates, particularly in the private sector, is currently at a six-year high,” explains Jonathan Silverman, a Director within The Execu|Search Group’s Accounting/Finance division.  “As a result, now, while we are still in the fourth quarter is the time to be thinking about your next career move.”

Why? For one reason, with many accountants waiting until January or February to start applying to jobs, competition is lower than it will be during those months.  This means that the earlier you start educating yourself on market trends and checking out new opportunities, the higher your chances are of landing the job you want.  “Being proactive doesn’t necessarily mean that you have to make a move if you aren’t ready to,” advises Jonathan.  “It does, however, allow you to understand your value – a key aspect of remaining competitive in today’s marketplace, regardless of whether or not you are actively looking for a job.”  To be more proactive about learning about market trends, Jonathan recommends building a relationship with a recruiter you can trust, early on in the process.   After all, if you wait too long into the new year to get on the radar of various hiring managers, you risk becoming an indistinguishable candidate stuck in a pile of resumes.

According to Lisa Gootman Yudico, an Executive Recruiter within the Accounting/Finance division, starting a new job in quarter four, rather than waiting until the next fiscal year, is a reason in and of itself to make a move now.  “One of the best ways to get to know your new employer is by going through the year-end close and sitting down with auditors as they do the external audit,” says Lisa.  “Doing this will allow you to hit the ground running on your first day – the best type of on-the-job training!”

For those of you who do not believe that the benefits of starting your job search now do not outweigh the cost of missing out on your year-end bonus, you may want to reconsider.  “If you are 75% vested in your bonus and are waiting to receive the rest, you may think it is a suboptimal time in the year to look for a new job,” says Jonathan.  “However, the demand for accountants in the private industry is so strong that employers are coming up with creative ways to make top talent whole on their bonuses.”  To do this, many organizations will buy candidates out of their bonuses, or offer a delayed start date, so new hires can start after they collect their year-end bonus.

As a result, the risk of looking for a new job in the private sector this quarter is actually very minimal.  In fact, not kick-starting your job search, or at least getting all your ducks in a row before the new year, can do more harm than good since you risk becoming complacent in your role or not being able to find the job you want when competition picks up.  “There’s a lot of activity in the market right now, which is reflected in the unprecedented number of jobs we have available,” concludes Jonathan.  “With all of these new opportunities, do not let your bonus get in the way of professional growth.  The strength of the job market for professionals with your skillset will allow you to negotiate better terms to satisfy both your short-term and long-term needs.”