Four tips for keeping your career on track in a pandemic job market

Despite a generally robust job market, the COVID-19 pandemic has taken its toll on corporate finance and accounting careers: hiring freezes, job losses, salary freezes, and stalled out career ambitions. Working remotely for nearly a year has people shifting their perspective about work. For every person yearning to return to the office, another has discovered unexpected benefits and satisfactions working from home.  

Now is the time to get clarity about the corporate finance and accounting job market and advice about how to keep your career moving forward. To answer our questions, we tapped SEC Pro Group local chapter sponsors, a brain trust of executive recruiters and staffing specialists from across the country. 

1. 2021 Market Outlook: Demand is increasing, and salaries are catching up.

The job market in early 2020 was very strong prior to the COVID-19 shutdowns in late March when hiring came to a standstill. By the end of May, hiring quickly picked up. Demand is returning to the levels we saw in 2019 and early 2020. In some cases, candidates are looking at multiple offers. Salaries have not returned to pre-pandemic levels, but we expect this to change. Companies are getting aggressive about making counter-offers to keep employees from leaving. Larry Weinberg, President, Accounting Career Consultants, and St. Louis Chapter sponsor.

The 2021 job market looks good for consultants in accounting, finance, supply chain, and IT.  Now that projects are back on track, more clients need subject matter experts with strong project management skills. Cindy Zarlengo, Vice President Client Development, RGP, and Denver Chapter sponsor. 

2. To stay competitive, business transformation skills are essential.

The pandemic forced a technology boom, and more companies are investing in business transformation.  Clients are looking for candidates with experience leading projects in process optimization business process re-engineering, Six Sigma/Lean), process automation (robotic process automation), and performance benchmarking. We've also seen an uptick in demand for finance transformation experience and familiarity with tools and processes associated with close and consolidation, FP&A, order to cash, procure to pay, and treasury management. Suzanne Baranski, Partner, Vaco, and Charlotte Chapter sponsor.

We are seeing a lot of enterprise resource planning system implementations. Several large companies we work with are in progress or about to start SAP HANA implementations. Larry Weinberg.

3. Remote work is the new normal.

More companies have embraced remote work. Particularly in corporate finance and accounting, the future of work will include more options and better job satisfaction. Cindy Zarlengo.

There has been a war for talent for years. Remote work widens the candidate pool. However, it makes the market more competitive for job seekers. Suzanne Baranski.

4. What if you’re out of a job? Get specific and strategic, network, and stay flexible.

Tell as many people as you can that you are looking for a job. Be specific about the type of job and company you are targeting. This will help your network generate ideas about people to connect you within their network. It's tough to know how to help someone when they are vague about their career goals. Suzanne Baranski.

Networking with like-minded peers is one of the benefits of your SEC Pro Group membership. Use the SEC Pro Group website to identify and connect with other members. If you need an introduction, reach out to your local chapter’s advisory chair. Always feel free to reach out to me or Ashley Atwood for assistance. Steve Soter, Executive Advisor to the SEC Professionals Group.

The best strategy is to be flexible; we all have multiple skill sets. Focus on what you bring to the table as a subject matter expert and project manager. Think outside your geographic region, because remote positions are opening up new opportunities. Cindy Zarlengo.


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