Across nearly every industry, recruiting and retaining top talent is arguably harder than ever before. Companies across the world are facing a record number of employees voluntarily quitting their jobs in what is known as the Great Resignation. According to a recent report from the U.S Bureau of Labor Statistics, over 4.4 million people quit their jobs in February 2022 alone.
The accounting sphere is no exception. According to Accounting Today, the hiring of accounting graduates by CPA firms has declined nearly 30 percent in recent years. The industry is undergoing rapid change, there are less professionals entering the field, and the shift to remote work has changed the talent competition landscape.
Naturally, these challenges impact recruiting and retention. We spoke with Joanne Vadala, Director of Talent Management, and Rachel Pasternak, Recruiting Specialist, on what recruiters are facing in today’s climate, the changing values and desires of the emerging candidate, and future projections of the accounting workforce.
Changing Values of the Emerging Candidate
Typically, when experienced hires are looking for a change, they are drawn to companies that are experiencing growth as growth is expected to enable further career opportunities. They are often looking for “a better culture, better wages, and better benefits,” said Joanne.
But with much of the candidate pool being recent graduates, it is crucial to explore what this group of prospective employees value and desire in the workplace.
Diversity, Equity & Inclusion
In speaking from their experiences at local universities, Joanne and Rachel both noted that diversity, equity and inclusion (DE&I) in the workplace is a top priority for attracting and retaining talent.
“Students are encouraged to pursue community service opportunities as part of their high school and college curriculum. I think this increased push in the last decade has created greater awareness of DE&I issues as it’s forced people out of their comfort zones and into situations where they’re interacting with different people from a variety of backgrounds. There is a higher level of social consciousness and I have always believed that higher education is the ground zero of change in the world,” said Rachel.
She further adds, “this is where language evolves, activism thrives, ideologies are developed, and confidence is instilled. Most college programs have incorporated DE&I into the academic plan, which is also bridging how these issues play into our everyday work life.”
Given these student’s societal awareness and expectations “companies must be prepared with a logical and honest plan to discuss with students. If a company does not have a sound plan in place, and the ability to back up that plan, the students will readily move onto one that does,” added Joanne.
Another increasingly important factor that many prospective employees are considering in their job search is how they can support their community through their workplace.
“Students are looking for how they can get their hands dirty – literally. Where can they make an impact with the time they spend outside the office? How might an opportunity to give back arise from the actual work they are doing?” shared Rachel.
“When having conversations with interns, they wanted to know specifics about where we as a firm perform community service, and how they could get involved. Delivering on the promise of the culture is incredibly important,” she added.
Unfortunately, the challenges recruiters are facing are not predicted to let up in the coming years. Currently, there are less people enrolling in college altogether. Statistics have shown that since 2019, enrollment is declining at two and four-year colleges as a whole. “Having worked in higher education for years, we’ve known about ‘the cliff’ coming in 2025/2026 when student enrollment in colleges will see a pretty dramatic decline due to lower birth rates during the late 2000s recession. Add in the rising cost of education, debt hesitancy, and the allure of going straight into the workforce and we will be facing a dramatic shift in how we will need to recruit our top talent in the coming years,” added Rachel.
While feeling the impact of fewer college students overall, the accounting industry and the pursuit of CPA’s is declining, and the candidate pool is shrinking even further.
“We need to look at how we may alter and/or incorporate different educational components or benefits and/or different lines of business that will address more popular courses of study for today’s college-educated students,” Joanne proposed.
Additionally, firms need to reevaluate their overall employee experience in order to attract and retain talent. TBG has taken action to create an unparalleled experience to meet our People’s evolving needs and desires. We have accelerated growth opportunities, mentorship programs, unlimited PTO, WFH flexibility, and more. If you’re interested in learning more about what a career at The Bonadio Group could look like for you, reach out today! Check out current openings on our Careers page.
This material has been prepared for general, informational purposes only and is not intended to provide, and should not be relied on for, tax, legal or accounting advice. Should you require any such advice, please contact us
directly. The information contained herein does not create, and your review or use of the information does not constitute, an accountant-client relationship.