With the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projecting that accounting jobs are expected to experience faster than average growth for the next ten years, it’s clear that the field faces a bright future. Other factors such as advances in technology, a declining unemployment rate, and changes to the tax code are fueling the demand for accounting professionals across the board.
While this influx in accounting jobs is a great sign for the industry, many employers are having a difficult time finding talent to sit in these empty desks. “This means that accountants are in the driver’s seat when job searching,” says Irv Myones, a Senior Managing Director within The Execu|Search Group’s Accounting/Finance division. “In this candidate-driven job market, you not only have the ability to be selective when making career decisions, but you also have access to opportunities that you might not have been able to land just a few short years ago.”
Whether you are thinking about making a move now or after busy season, here are three ways the candidate-driven market can help you advance your career:
More opportunities to diversify your experience
If you’re a generalist, you may feel that your growth at your current firm may have hit a wall. Alternatively, you may feel pigeonholed into a specialty area that you are no longer interested in. The good news? According to Irv, there has been no better time to transition to a new specialty area. “This is especially true for auditors looking to apply their skills to a new industry. For example, manufacturing/distribution is one industry that is experiencing a surge in demand for skilled accounting professionals,” he says.
Achieve better work-life balance
You know just how hard it can be to maintain a good work-life balance during busy season. If you are getting tired of the long hours and endless amounts of work, you may even be tempted to leave accounting altogether! To combat this problem (and attract millennial talent), many accounting firms are incorporating more flexibility into their company culture.
“Accountants put in a lot of hours during busy season, and as a result, many firms are looking for ways to be more accommodating to their staff during less demanding times of the year,” says Irv. “From a more casual dress code to more flexible hours, accountants should definitely look out for these benefits when searching for new opportunities.”
Get your big break
Due to the talent shortage, many firms are becoming more flexible in their requirements when bringing on talent. “Understanding that they are not going to find candidates that meet a long list of their expectations, employers are focusing more on transferable skills and experience when meeting with candidates,” says Irv. “This gives professionals a better shot when pursuing accounting jobs at bigger firms. For example, middle market firms are increasingly meeting with candidates looking to transition from smaller firms, while the Big 4 are open to professionals from middle-market firms.”
If your goal is to ultimately move into private industry from one of these smaller firms, now is an excellent time to put your career plan into action. “These new opportunities at larger public accounting firms can be great stepping stones to private industry, “says Irv. “As long as you are willing to play the long game and do the work, these new accounting jobs will help you develop the skills and the experience needed to make the leap.”