Finance + Accounting Pros: Your Job Search Vs. Your Bonus?

With the new year upon us, many of you will resolve to do a lot of things in 2017. While some will pledge to save money or hit the gym more often, others will be determined to find a new job. However, some professionals in the accounting and financial services sectors will delay their search until they can collect their bonus.

“If you are one of these professionals, you may want to reconsider your strategy,” says Paul Herman, a Senior Managing Director within The Execu|Search Group’s Financial Services division.  “While it may be tempting to sit back and count down the days until you receive your bonus, those who start their job search in quarter one can find themselves at a competitive advantage.”

Why? For one reason, with many professionals waiting until March—or even May in some cases—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 accounting or financial services 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 Samantha Parris, a Senior Managing Director within The Execu|Search Group’s Accounting/Finance division. “It does, however, help you build connections and understand your market value—two elements that can make it easier to find success when you are ready to change jobs.”

If you are still apprehensive about starting your job search without collecting your bonus, Paul has observed that this is a concern that many employers recognize. “To attract candidates in quarter one, employers are coming up with creative ways to make top talent whole on their bonuses,” he says. To do this, many organizations will extend sign-on bonuses to compensate for any potential losses, or even offer delayed start dates, so new hires can start after they collect their year-end bonus.

With this in mind, the risk of looking for a new job at the start of the new year is relatively minimal. Not kick-starting your job search—or at least not taking the steps to ensure you are prepared— can, in fact, do more harm than good. “If you are serious about finding a new job in 2017, don’t let your bonus get in the way of your professional development,” warns Paul. “Those who get a head start in quarter one will be in a better position to secure an opportunity that sets them up for long-term career success.”