Despite the rough economy, accountants are still in heavy demand at many accounting firms and private companies, so employers still need to make extra efforts to retain and recruit qualified staff.

Demand is high in a wide variety of accounting-related jobs. “We’re still seeing a pretty high demand for tax and analysis,” said Doug Arms, senior vice president at staffing company Accounting Principals. “It seems like general accounting is picking up as well. Even things like AP and AR are still very popular.”
He has seen demand increase over the past year. “Everything’s on the uptick,” said Arms, who was formerly chief talent officer at Ajilon Finance, which is now part of Accounting Principals.

For retaining good employees, Arms recommended that employers should provide an open forum for opinions, concerns and suggestions. “Tied into that is giving them a greater sense of inclusion,” he said. He also thinks it is important to recognize employees for a job well done, not just the problems, and give feedback on the work that has been done. “It’s important that people know how their piece of the puzzle fits the entire puzzle,” said Arms.

He also recommended that employers go out of their way to create a perception of fairness and provide opportunities for employees to contribute beyond their job description. They should never threaten an employee’s job or income.

As for recruitment, Arms favors internal referrals and promoting from within as well as engaging outside search companies like his. Since recruiters often provide their staffing services on a contingency basis, employers don’t have to pay the costs until they hire a job candidate. He also recommended employers provide a unified message to the individuals involved in the hiring process. Hiring managers should engage with the members of their team and check with them to make sure the job description actually fits the job.

“What ends up happening is the manager may have an impression of what the job is and they get people sold on that, and when people join the company they find out it’s much different from what was described,” said Arms. “The staff has a much better vantage     point of what the reality is.”