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Moving Markets

30th Apr 2010


James Brent, Senior Manager at Hays Accountancy & Finance, comments on the current state of the market and offers some advice for professionals considering making a move:

"While recruitment activity in the accountancy and finance sector as a whole has slowed, the market for newly qualified accountants (NQs) has recently experienced a slight uplift and the part qualified (PQ) market has also started to pick up over the last six months. Although we have seen the numbers of job vacancies start to increase, strong candidates are showing reluctance to move roles, creating a demand for good quality professionals. The commercial sector, particularly financial services, retail, entertainment and leisure, is providing opportunities for both NQs and PQs.

As companies look to move on from the recession they are seeking candidates who are able to make an impact and assist in driving the company forward. Professionals such as financial analysts, project accountants, financial accounts, assistant finance managers and programme analysts are in demand and can earn between £33-40,000.

A lack of NQ movement means there is less fluidity in the PQ market. Assistant accountants, assistant management accountants and assistant financial controllers with experience of managing bank accounts, balance sheet reconciliation and accruals on prepayments are sought after, as are professionals with advanced excel knowledge. Sectors currently recruiting include the FMCG, financial services and travel sectors and professionals at this level can expect to earn between £23-28,000.

PQs need to be more flexible in terms of salary expectations, industry and location, however, the best candidates are securing roles and some are even receiving multiple offers; something we haven't seen since the start of the recession.

Given the increased competition in the marketplace, employers are being more specific about their selection criteria. With this in mind, jobseekers need to sell themselves to prospective employers and prepare meticulously for every interview. A CV that displays evidence of career progression and a proactive approach to work will impress but it must be presented in an easy to read and consistent format. This involves listing your more senior duties above junior ones; for example ‘accruals and prepayments' should sit above ‘purchase ledger'. Also, don't be afraid to highlight transferable skills on your CV, these will make you more employable and put a value on your achievements.

It is important to take stock of your CIMA/ACCA log book, are there any gaps you need to gain experience in? Can these be filled in your current role? Always ensure you are progressing and developing in-line with your studies. It is a good idea to ask your current line manager for more senior duties or to shadow them for a period of time; this will add weight to your CV and interview responses.

During the interview itself, candidates must be able to give clear examples of situations where they have demonstrated the required technical and behavioural competencies.

Have you thought about working on a temporary basis? Organisations previously recruiting for permanent roles are increasingly hiring interim professionals due to the flexibility it offers. An interim position can offer a broader range of experience on different projects and in different organisations. The travel and construction sectors, which were amongst those most affected by the downturn, are just two examples of employers currently recruiting on an interim basis. Interim opportunities exist for professionals early in their careers who have strong excel experience, basic systems knowledge and can pick things up quickly. For example, management information analysts, data analysts, assistant accountants and pricing analysts are currently required on an interim basis.

Looking forward, financial services and blue chip companies are set to continue to increase their recruitment following redundancies or restructures which took place during the recession. Many employees are now overburdened with the reduced headcount and as business picks up they will need extra support and resources."