Commerce & Industry Market Report, Dec 2020

How robust is the accountancy jobs market as we approach Christmas and the New Year? 

To answer this question, we asked the Harvey John Finance and Accountancy team for their December 2020 market reports…

Across South East over the past ten years or so, the Senior Finance market has remained a tough place to be as a candidate who is open to a new opportunity. The candidate pool is certainly at a saturation point and you don’t need to be a qualified accountant or economist to realise that as you rise up the corporate pyramid, opportunities become more scarce.

Over the past quarter we’ve been instructed to source a number of senior finance vacancies but, for candidates, the challenge is how to make that final shortlist. We’ve listed a few key pointers to make that happen…

  • Regardless of whether there is a vacancy or not, do keep in touch with your trusted recruiter network. Not all roles are advertised and when it comes to scanning a longlist, it tends to be the candidates we know are the ones who stand out from the crowd.
  • If the application is to an agency unfamiliar to you or perhaps direct to the company, register your initial interest with a phone call. You could then follow up further with some key achievements that relate specifically to that vacancy once you have a clearer idea of requirements.
  • Don’t apply to every job out there. Perhaps reach out to the hirer or agent first to get some further details as the job may not even be suitable or of interest.
  • Keep a generic copy of your CV up to date but allow time to fine tune your CV to each application highlighting relevant experience to that specific job.
  • Maintain your LinkedIn profile or create one if you’ve not got one. In this market there are really no excuses;
  • Lastly, if you are asked to interview either face to face or via a video call  leave nothing to chance. Preparation, preparation, preparation! You don’t want to waste this opportunity – who knows when the next one might come round!

We’re, of course, happy to schedule a call to discuss any element of your job search.

It has been a rollercoaster ride since the first lockdown. August-October were strong months for accountancy recruitment and I felt very positive about the market during this time. Companies wanted to crack on and get back to some sort of normality, and many were looking to catch up with recruitment that had been postponed earlier in Summer.

Then Covid numbers started to rise again and the second lockdown loomed, which slowed down activity in November. Quite a few companies paused recruitment and started sending staff home once more. There was an uncertainty about when we would ever come out of lockdown.

Now the mood has changed again – for the positive. We have a clearer picture and optimism around the new vaccines. Confidence and activity has returned in December and I have had an influx of new positions to fill.

I feel quietly confident for the start of 2021. Once we start rolling out vaccines and the case numbers drop, then I think the market will get a big boost.

Another good sign is that the roles coming up are both replacement and growth roles. It’s not just a case of reacting to someone leaving, businesses are actually expanding teams and bringing in additional resources to cope with increasing demands.

While there’s no doubt recruitment has been hit hard in 2020, as we approach Christmas I am finding myself as busy as I was at this stage last year. In fact, so far, we have had a very good Quarter 4 with the market getting progressively busier.

Some confidence has returned, certainly across industries such as pharmaceutical, medical devices and food manufacturers. With a vaccine now being rolled out next year, I hope that this continues to spread throughout other sectors!

I have recently filled a diverse range of roles from AAT Trainee, Credit Control and Payroll through to ACCA, ACA & CIMA qualified level.

However, we have seen particularly strong demand for the most versatile candidates as companies are looking for people who can operate in many areas of finance, to cover for increasing workloads.

The accounting sector would appear to be fairly strong with a return to confident hiring, aligned with 2021 growth plans. The previous unknown of ‘remote hiring’ seems to now be a thing of the past, with many clients and candidates not thinking twice about accepting and offering a job after a purely virtual interviewing process.

Onboarding virtually, also previously unheard of, is now the norm and we’ve seen a range of innovative team building events that are taking place online to welcome new hires.

The Practice market would appear to remain strong around the mid level, with plenty of part-qualified accountants looking to move, as well as being sought after by clients.

Within Industry the market remains fairly polarised with plenty of movement at the junior and Finance Manager/FC level, although senior CFO/FD level hiring appears to still be slightly sluggish.

Geographically, London seems to still be lagging behind the home counties and wider South East region, indicating perhaps more confidence from businesses who are not so reliant on long commutes into the city.

Overall, the doom and gloom appears to be abating and the pandemic is becoming cited less and less as a reason for lower hiring activity. In fact, recruitment freezes from larger firms that initially looked to be for the long-run are already being broken. With new methods of hiring in place, the need for staff is overtaking wider the social and economic factors which would, on the surface, look to hinder a resurgent recruitment sector.

Search our latest accountancy jobs here.

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