We've all been there. You apply for a perfect job, only to wait weeks to learn if you have made it to the next step in the process.
Often, the hiring cycle takes anywhere from four to ten weeks from the day a hiring manager posts a position until it is filled, according to Paul McDonald, senior executive director at Robert Half, based in the US.
While this can be frustrating for job seekers eager to advance their careers, the good news is that jobs are plentiful. Figures from the US Bureau of Labor Statistics show that employment of accountants and auditors is set to rise 7% over the current decade.
And according to Careersmart, a website that provides UK labour market data for an array of professions, employment for chartered and certified accountants is projected to increase from 240,000 employees in 2022 to more than 250,000 in 2027.
"The demand for accounting and finance professionals is unprecedented, regardless of where you live and work," McDonald said. "While there are ebbs and flows geographically, for the most part the robust hiring climate puts prospective employees in the driver's seat. However, with that comes the responsibility for job seekers to be thoughtful and deliberate around the opportunity they're looking for."
While the hiring process can sometimes move at a snail's pace, there are ways job seekers can speed things up.
Here are five steps you can take.
Do your homework. When you are seeking employment, start with a strong understanding of the type of role and the type of company you wish to join. Researching the marketplace is where it all starts, because this will help you speed up the process, McDonald said. A wealth of information is available online on sites such as Glassdoor and Indeed, and on various social media channels that can inform you about other job seekers' experience of their hiring journeys.
"If you learn that an organisation you're interested in has an ideal job opening, but has a history of spending a month with candidates going through the hiring process, then you have to ask yourself if they understand what they are looking for in a candidate, if they are clear on their job description, and if they have a strong decision-making process," McDonald added. Research can tell you whether a potential employer will be a good fit and allow you to save time in the process.
Narrow your job search. You may find dozens of openings in your field, but that doesn't mean you should apply to all of them, said Duncan Brodie, FCMA, CGMA, managing director of Goals and Achievements, a career consulting firm for accountants near Brighton, England.
He said that "time is precious when you're looking for a new job", and advises job seekers not to waste hours filling out applications to organisations for which they are only semi-interested in working. Instead, they should determine the type of position they would enjoy, that would enable them to do their best work, and that offers growth potential. By defining their ideal job description, they may more easily find employment openings that are a good fit.
"Once you start narrowing your search and going for fewer opportunities that are better matches with your skillset, you will start getting better and faster results," Brodie said.
Communicate your ideal position. After narrowing your search to jobs that appear to be a good match, carefully articulate your ideal working environment to potential employers, Brodie advised.
"Be crystal clear about what you want, and I don't mean just financially, but nonfinancially as well," he said. This includes outlining specifically the kind of work you are seeking, the skills you have to offer, and the sacrifices you will make or won't make, such as relocating, working on-site, or being available on nights and weekends.
"We all know that we do end up … making a huge number of sacrifices for our careers," he said. "And if the job requires sacrifices you are not willing to make, it's best for the hiring company and for you to move on."
Reach out to insiders. Networking with insiders in organisations where you'd like to work helps speed up the hiring process, especially if you know them personally, Brodie said. Some companies even have referral programmes.
"If an employee of a business refers a prospective job candidate who gets hired, the person who has made the introduction earns a bonus," he said. "Further, if that new employee is still there after a certain period, the person who made the referral gets a second bonus."
Having an inside track pays dividends for both the job seeker and the insider making the referral. Many companies with those types of incentive programmes often fill jobs so quickly that they don't need to advertise them, Brodie said.
Indicate your job search is moving forward. Employers know that if they have a good candidate in their sights, they must move swiftly, or they'll miss out on hiring a potentially great employee. In today's job market, individuals have many choices. "When you get to the interview phase in your job search, be sure to inform the hiring manager you have an active job search in place and you would like to move quickly into a new position," McDonald said.
Recruitment to C-suite or partner positions sometimes does take a period of time, but for staff-level, senior-level, and supervising manager-level positions the process should move quickly, he added. According to research by Robert Half, job seekers lose interest in a potential employer if they don't hear from them within two weeks of submitting their application.
McDonald maintains a two-week period is not unreasonable. "I've seen some controllers and financial managers receive an offer within two weeks of their first introduction," he said.
— Teri Saylor is a freelance writer based in the US. To comment on this article or to suggest an idea for another article, contact Drew Adamek at Andrew.Adamek@aicpa-cima.com.