A common theme has cropped up in my conversations with senior accountancy candidates over the past month or so. Many of them – whether they work in industry or practice – are burnt out. As a result of constant 50 – 70 hour weeks over the past few months, many of these candidates are feeling extremely overworked and increasingly undervalued.
And I don’t necessarily mean valued in a financial sense. I mean career progression or promotions have been paused or cancelled and work/life balance is virtually non-existent. The lines have particularly been blurred for those who have been working remotely throughout the pandemic.
Finance, particularly in industry, is often labelled as a support function and – as many candidates on the market will testify – support teams are often the first to be considered for redundancy. For those who are left behind, it means being expected to perform as a team of ten did when you are now a team of three or four.
Many candidates have found themselves operating and strategising at a higher level owing to redundancies or constant re-forecasting. There have been no title changes for many – so it is a case of all the responsibility and none of the reward.
Most importantly, my candidates are looking for that work/life balance to be restored. The level of work they are doing – and the hours – is simply unsustainable.
So, how do I support those senior end candidates who find themselves considering a move?
Ask the right questions
With all of my candidates, I like to drill down to the heart of the issue. What is making them want to leave? How can I avoid a repeat of that situation in a new role? Are there external factors impacting their decisions? All of these questions are important because there may be issues that can be fixed or addressed in their current role or there may be particular industries the candidate wants to avoid.
Look for transferable skills
If you are an accountant working in financial services, for example, would you be open to taking on a similar role in an engineering firm? I often ask my candidates if they would consider a change of industry (as well as a change of role) because that can make a big impact on career prospects, too. I will scan their CV for transferable skills and look out for where their strengths lie.
For some senior candidates, the jobs market is a minefield. They haven’t looked for a new role in almost a decade and things have changed. So, I will coach them as to what employers are looking to see on their CV – it’s not just length of service that will impress. I talk them through personal branding, too, to stand out on the jobs market.
Video interview prep
The times they are a-changing, and 2020 has seen some of the biggest changes in the jobs market for decades. Not least, the lack of in-person interviews owing to the ongoing pandemic. So I will have an initial video chat with my candidates and explain to them how to perform well during an online interview, too.
A new job isn’t necessarily going to cure all ills. There are still many companies who – whilst they are doing all they can to support ongoing learning and development – perhaps can’t offer that £7k pay bump a candidate is looking for. I will always be honest about what’s available on the market and what decisions make the most sense, long term.
If you would like to speak to me about senior accountancy roles across industry and practice, you can click here to drop me a confidential email.