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Accounting Enrollment Hits All Time High

No matter how you look at the numbers, we are training an increasing number of accountants in the United States. The American Institute of CPAs just released a report stating that for the 2013-2014 academic year colleges and universities experienced a 19% increase in master’s candidates and a 3% increase in bachelor’s candidates. This means for the first time ever there are more than 250,000 accounting related students in school in the U.S. Plus, it looks like growth will hold steady or continue. A surprising 97% of bachelor’s programs and 70% of master’s programs expect enrollment to be the same or higher in the coming year.

If you are concerned about all of these students finding work, you needn’t be. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that employment of accountants and auditors is expected to grow 13 percent from 2012 to 2022, representing an additional 166,700 jobs. This increased demand for accountants was evident in a 7% growth in accounting new hires in 2014. An attention getting, 91% of firms expect their hiring of new accounting graduates to be higher than or the same in the coming year!

For the account manager and CFO these statistics are more than just interesting; they are also a bit of a warning sign. With high demand for new talent, you will have to be both fast and strategic to get the best candidates. How? By looking at parts of the hiring process that are most important, and frustrating, to potential candidates:

“Friendly” Systems. Accountants want systems that are efficient - and want to work for organizations that are efficient as well. Be sure that your application system is well organized and asks questions relevant to accounting positions. The application process is a candidate’s first exposure to your organization – make it positive.

Timely ROI. As a group, accountants and other finance professionals focus on ROI. Top finance candidates want to spend the interview discussing their background, the job, and what they might bring to it, not topics that are irrelevant. Highly desirable candidates are likely interviewing with more than one organization. When you bring them in for an interview, be sure that you make the interaction a good use of their time and yours.

Clear Communication. Most candidates realize that interviewing is a multi-step process which takes time. Finance processionals have a great respect for process and accountability. An organization that says they will call in two days, but then takes two weeks to respond, creates a poor impression. In addition, most highly skilled professionals have large professional networks. Bad word of mouth about your organization and the interview process communication might prevent some of the best candidates from even applying in the future.

It is an exciting time to be an accounting professional. By focusing on the experience of the candidate, and keeping an eye on the overall demand for talent, you can position your organization for success in the future.