Current Trends in the Atlanta Accounting and Finance Job Market

Itā€™s Better Than You Might Expect

After a sharp pause in April and May, hiring is getting back on track in many industries with the notable exception of some hospitality and travel.

Though general unemployment in Georgia is running at about 7.6%, the unemployment rate for degreed accounting and finance professionals has remained close to the low levels experienced prior to the pandemic. Talented individuals are still in high demand with multiple opportunities to consider and require potential employers to move quickly and be competitive to capture top talent.

A further challenge for employers is that prospective candidates may be reluctant to make a move in a market that still feels full of uncertainty. Candidates remain wary of future volatility and believe they are better positioned at a company with tenure than to be the most recent person hired at a new organization. This concern is significantly reducing the passive candidate pool.

Remote Interviews

It remains to be seen when things will get back to ā€œnormalā€, but one trend that seems very likely to continue after the pandemic is video interviewing.

What was a rarity in early 2020 is an everyday event now replacing both in-person and phone interviews. Gone is the time when a candidate will need to take PTO and change clothing in the car to be able to interview. This is not only giving employers access to a range of talent that previously would not have been able to take the time to interview, but it is also speeding up the interview process timing quite considerably.

This video interview process is certainly still being refined. The ability of both employers and candidates to seamlessly use technology continues to evolve and expectations around proper apparel for a video interview vary. As a general rule, it is well-advised to practice in advance using the technology and when in doubt about the appropriate apparel, dress as if you were going to an in-person interview.

Remote Onboarding

ā€œMeet the Teamā€ has taken on a whole new meaning.

Gone are the welcome lunches and first-day office tours. Onboarding now consists of a computer arriving via Express Mail and screen-sharing through meetings on MS Teams, Zoom, or Skype. Is it working? For the most part, so far so good.

Remote Working

Make sure your home office is effective for you because it looks like you may be working from home for quite a bit longer.

With the continued rise in COVID-19 cases, schools shifting to remote models for the near term, and the challenges faced by employers to create a safe and CDC-compliant workplace, many companies are starting to push out their timelines for returning to the office to early 2021. Those employers who are returning to the workplace are largely doing so on a volunteer-only basis.

For the vast majority of leadership for accounting and finance organizations with whom we have spoken to, the productivity of their remote teams has been as good or better than when employees were required to be present at the workplaceā€¦ so far. The longer-term effect on culture and retention has yet to be determined.

From an employee perspective, it appears that most would like to continue working remotely; they feel more productive since they are able to devote time previously dedicated to the commute directly to their work product. Many are very appreciative of the flexibility that their employers are allowing in order to protect their health and juggle the evolving demands of childcare. Some, however, particularly those earlier in their careers, are starting to miss the camaraderieĀ and mentorship opportunities that typically evolve through face-to-face interaction.

The World Just Got Smaller

From an employment perspective, the world is suddenly a much smaller place.

Some companies are choosing to pinpoint very specific talent from other geographical markets with the understanding that the employee can work remotely from anywhere with occasional in-person visits expected at some point in the future when it is safe to do so. The accounting and finance profession has adapted rapidly to a new style of interviewing and working. A transformation occurred within a few weeks in late March that might have taken years for many companies. Though some of these trends will most likely scale back as COVID-19 dissipates, for the near term, flexibility and creativity are going to be key to an organizationā€™s ongoing success.

About the Author

Amy Dresser is a partner with Homrich, Klein & Associates and J Curve, LLC, affiliate companies specializing in permanent and interim placement of accounting and finance professionals in Atlanta.