The U.S. debt downgrade, the stock market’s recent swoon, and the overall tepid rate of economic recovery haven’t, at least yet, done much to alter hiring trends for finance and accounting staff.
Demand for such talent remains high relative to supply, says Andrew Reina, managing director of staffing firm Accounting Principals. Despite the high overall unemployment rate, there is insufficient availability of the talent most finance organizations are seeking.
Partly that’s because hirers have grown pickier in recent years. If a candidate doesn’t have at least 95% of the stated requirements for a job, the company usually won’t even take a look. “There is somewhat of a disconnect in terms of client expectations, given the supply pool,” notes Reina, whose firm places both temporary and permanent accountants and finance personnel, from CFOs to entry-level clerks.
It’s easy to forget that just a few weeks back, equity markets were at three-year highs. Starting a few months ago, Reina says, “our permanent business for entry and midlevel people got hot, and there is still a healthy appetite for that now.”
One reason for that: budget restraints installed in 2009 and 2010, when companies winnowed full-time positions in favor of temps and consultants, were eased for this year. And there is a natural limit to the level of such workers a finance department can tolerate, because when they leave, all the institutional knowledge they acquired leaves with them. The temporary-placement business for Accounting Principals has tapered off to where it was a year ago.
It’s not that the uncertain present economic conditions don’t put negative pressure on hiring. Rather, if such conditions were not present, the hiring market would be even hotter than it is. “We continue to see an uptick in permanent job orders and rigid hiring requirements,” says Reina. “The material impact of things like the debt downgrade has not been what a lot of people predicted.”