Australia’s accountancy & finance job market is very active, with an increasing number of positions and high candidate confidence. Thus candidates are willing to change roles and turnover is increasing.
With vacancy activity in both the temporary and permanent market, and from the senior finance to transactional support levels, the number of available candidates is decreasing. This is leading to skill shortages – which in some cases are becoming acute.
Interestingly, there has been a marked increase in permanent jobs over temporary roles, and there are more opportunities for candidates to convert their temporary contracts to permanent positions. These opportunities are being created in companies that are taking advantage of new financial year budgets, or experiencing a substantial increase in their workloads.
There has also been an increase in roles that require well rounded experience rather than one particular skill set.
In addition, we have seen an increase in the number of part-time roles and employers being willing to offer flexible hours for both temporary and permanent staff as workloads increase. There have also been a lot of maternity leave contracts of between six and 12 months.
However, all employers are being very clear in their requirement that candidates must have systems experience. Cultural fit is important too.
In regional trends, in the ACT the Federal Government's permanent recruitment freeze is all but at an end and we expect to see more movement within the private sector as employees start to look for new opportunities in the government sector.
In Queensland, activity in residential construction has taken a healthy step forward while retail and manufacturing remains strong. New accountancy and finance roles are also being created in the health and aged care sectors due to our aging population.
In Western Australia a number of larger organisations in Perth are expanding their tax teams with experienced and capable specialists. However, more fixed-term six to12 month contracts are being offered over permanent roles in this state.
Some confidence is returning to the accountancy & finance job market in South Australia and Victoria, where more employers have said they will recruit this quarter. Hiring in the Victorian agribusiness and manufacturing sectors is also relatively strong.
In Tasmania the preference for contract over permanent recruitment appears to be changing. Some SMEs are looking at creating new roles in management accounting and cost accounting functions. Employers are requesting candidates with specific technical skills and software experience.
In terms of skills in demand for the July to September 2015 quarter, we’re seeing high demand for Commercial Analysts as companies continue to look closely at cost reduction, process improvement and increasing efficiencies. Professionals who can partner with the entire organisation are sought, while those with advanced Excel skills are favoured.
Many commercial organisations are seeking Tax Accountants as they want to keep this specialism in-house in order to reduce their external consultant costs.
Financial Accountants with a compliance focus and who are moving from a chartered environment into commerce are also sought for mid-level roles. We are also starting to see demand for Senior Financial Accountants as a result of natural turnover. When recruiting at this level, employers look for high calibre and polished candidates with Big 4 or second tier exposure as well as several years of experience in commerce.
Management Accountants with a cost focus are also valued in response to ongoing cost pressure. Businesses are focusing on growth versus budget as they try to evolve as quickly and efficiently as possible. This is driving demand for candidates who can help automate processes and improve transparency. All round candidates with management and financial accounting experience are also in demand as more roles are being consolidated into one.
Credit Controllers are needed as businesses increase their sales and need to maintain their cash flow. Candidates with dedicated experience in a credit control role who can negotiate extremely well and develop client and customer relationships are in most demand. Employers also often ask for candidates with specific industry experience.
Businesses are focused on hiring and building capability within their teams once more. This is fuelling demand for Assistant Accountants, particularly those who are part or fully qualified and can balance the transactional side with analysis.
There continues to be strong demand for end-to-end Payroll Officers as there is a shortage of new entrants into this job function. Employers look for candidates who can implement change and put systems in place. They also value candidates with relevant systems experience such as CHRIS 21, Empower, Kronos, Micropay Meridian and ADP.
In terms of candidate trends, the market is mixed. In many locations more candidates are securing interviews and receiving multiple offers, which is a significant change from this time last year. This is also having an impact on the occurrence of counter offers.
In such locations it is becoming more common for candidates who have been with a company for more than five years to now look for a change.
However in others the immediately available candidate pool is highly competitive, with people lowering their expectations to secure an opportunity.
We are also seeing an increase in the number of unqualified candidates in the market – however employers look for candidates with specific experience and qualifications.
A candidate who is in a permanent role wants to know the financial outlook of a business and what growth opportunities there are before going for an interview.
Candidates who can demonstrate significant achievements when it comes to either the bottom line or system or process improvements are gaining the most interest. Confident and articulate communication skills and enthusiasm also help candidates stand out.