While the national unemployment rate remains high at 7.7 percent, the unemployment rate among accountants is only 4.2%. With such a tight labor market many human resource managers are finding it difficult to fill accounting and finance vacancies.
Competing for local college graduates with accounting degrees can be tough, especially if you are not one of the Big 4 accounting firms. It can be done, however, with some clever planning and effort. Having clever recruiting and staffing practices is essential for small companies who cannot engage in national searches and cannot afford to pay top dollar for recruits.
Build A Great Internship Program
Internships are a great way to meet students while they are still in college and if you make a good impression there is a great chance that you can lock up high-performers with a job offer while they are still in school. In order for your internship program to be effective, however, there are several important steps you must take.
First, in order to attract the best students offer at least some financial compensation, even if it is simply a small stipend. Any monetary award will be appreciated. Second, make sure interns are actually given attention and training. Half the time interns are stuck doing menial tasks, which doesn’t help them learn and doesn’t improve your company’s image. Third, if you find an intern you want to offer a full time position to, make sure you convey the message well. Tell the intern that you appreciated his or her input and could see him or her fitting in well with the culture of the firm. Emphasize that this is a career position and there will be opportunities for promotion and growth in the future.
Another great option for filling accounting positions is to see if any non-accountants on your staff who are good with numbers would be interested in making a career change and returning to school to get an accounting degree. Replacing general staff members, such as administrative assistants, is usually easier than finding an accountant. Further, some of your staff members may be looking to change their careers or move up the ladder by furthering their education. In order to create added incentive you could offer to pay or match contributions to their tuition.
Accountants Will Be in Demand
With the Bureau of Labor statistics projecting a 15.7 percent growth in accounting jobs through 2020 labor conditions are likely to remain tight. Even if and when the economy goes into recession many firms are hesitant to lay off their accounting staff. For one, such staff are essential to operations no matter the economic conditions. Second, many HR departments rightly fear they will have trouble refilling accounting positions with quality staff once the economy does rebound. This means that the applicant pool for accountants will likely remain tight in the years to come. As long as you remain dedicated and open to trying different recruiting methods, however, you will find the talent you need.