Tax season is upon us. With the deadline to file federal income taxes quickly approaching, we’re taking a deeper look into the labor market trends that impact recruitment for accountants. Much to our surprise, recruiting in the accounting space has become extremely difficult over the past few years. The breakdown of public accounting firms versus private accounting firms is creating a strange dynamic for job seekers who choose one side or the other. This situation is influencing salary, migration and general career development for many accountants.
Looking at accounting labor market trends, Indeed identified key challenges recruiters face when hiring for accountant-related roles and how they can leverage Indeed’s resources to support their recruitment strategy.
Recruiting in the accounting market
Much like any highly regulated industry, accountants require specialized degrees, training and licenses. These factors alone make the recruitment process more difficult, but not impossible. In addition, recruiters must also deal with industry segmentation, or the division of public and private accounting, which restricts lateral movement.
Within the accounting industry, there are two different types of accounts: public and private. Public accountants are part of a larger accounting organization, such as KPMG, PwC, Deloitte and EY, and service larger corporate clients. Whereas private accountants work for a single company, are self-employed or work for public accountants in an agency role.
Public accounting jobs may involve long work hours and sometimes frequent travel for client meetings. The larger accounting organizations recruit students directly out of college, which provide additional opportunities for students looking to enter the field. Public firms offer training programs for new employees to ensure standardized performance across teams and departments. However, the long work hours and heavy workload can lead to burnout for many public accountants. It’s even more problematic when we throw salary into the mix as salaries are not aligned between public and private. Public accountants are often paid more than accountants at private firms.
Private accounting jobs often have a more consistent work schedule, with less travel and better work-life balance. Private firms also offer more opportunities for growth, with a clear path to partner status and the possibility for a senior public auditor to transition to a higher-level, private role. Private firms provide employees a level of familiarity since they are working for a single client, opposed to multiple clients at a public firm. However, private firms don’t have the same level of prominence or prestige that a public firm may have.
Understanding the limitations of each segment allows both public and private accounting firms to make the most of their recruitment efforts. For example, cultivating an employer brand to highlight the positive aspects of smaller private firms is one tactic; while larger public firms could focus their employer branding on the career development opportunities. Many public firms are already using career development as a major recruitment driver, but aligning it to an employer brand could be very helpful with lowering attrition rates. Using existing resources to overcome the painpoints of hiring is the foundation of many successful recruitment campaigns. Private firms in smaller communities can use this strategy to attract accountants away from major metro areas – solving a serious problem for local or regional accounting firms.
The geography of accounting
Using Indeed data, our team identified the top ten cities for people working in accounting. Despite many automated programs for filing taxes, the majority of accounting work tends to be in large metro areas. In fact, nearly 10% of all accounting jobs in the US are based in New York. Smaller communities are in serious need of accounting professionals, similar to the situation facing the healthcare industry.
Finding job candidates in major metro areas presents a unique set of challenges, but what about areas that have few or no trained accountants? Recruiting someone from a major metro area to a small community, for example Arkansas or Mississippi, requires significant effort and expense for the firm. Many job seekers would also expect the company to pay for relocation, or would require a significant signing bonus to come to a smaller community.
How Indeed can help
Much of the larger recruitment discussion focuses on the struggle to fill roles in healthcare or technology., but it’s clear accounting is another enterprise with unique challenges.
At Indeed we have tools that can help companies solve these hiring challenges. As the labor market for accountants continues to divide between public and private, Indeed is here to help employers navigate this evolving landscape. To learn more about how Indeed can help overcome the hurdles associated with hiring in accounting, visit indeed.com/hire.