The Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Occupational Outlook Handbook “Accountants and Auditors” page (http://bit.ly/2AghB1p) indicates that employment within the profession is expected to grow 10% through 2026, faster than the average for all occupations, with CPAs and accounting MBAs having the most advantage. The U.S. Department of Labor’s Career One Stop website indicates greater than 20% growth in several states, including New York, Colorado, Florida, Idaho, Tennessee, and Texas (http://bit.ly/2zXVQQT). In addition, accounting is a financially rewarding profession, with median annual wages almost double that for all occupations (http://bit.ly/2zkgdup).
This author’s experience as a college professor has demonstrated that students are generally not aware of the huge demand for accounting graduates. In fact, recent attendance at a state CPA society presentation yielded an auditorium full of accounting majors collectively gasping at projections of the demand for new accountants. On a related note, it has long been observed that accounting employers expect new hires to be “plug and play,” and accounting-intensive bachelor’s and master’s degrees have been developed in response to this need.
Is there something that could attract students to become accountants, help prepare new accountants for the job, and encourage them to make the additional effort to become CPAs? Yes: internships. A recent report published by the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE) indicates that grade point averages and internship completion are the major predictors of initial career outcomes (“The Impact of Undergraduate Internships on Post-Graduate Outcomes for the Liberal Arts,” September 2017, http://bit.ly/2AY4Zs1).
This month’s column reviews several free resources to aid accounting employers in creating, improving, or expanding their recruitment outreach, including internship options.
Internships.com is an internship marketplace with a focus on providing encouragement, opportunities, and resources to students; it also presents some excellent free materials for employers and instructors. The Internships.com website is maintained separately from its parent company, Chegg, which is well-known to college students for educational resources such as access to textbooks, tutoring, standardized test preparation training, scholarships, and internship information. Internships.com promotes itself as the “world’s largest internship marketplace,” incorporating the catchy phrase “internships are the new interview.”
The employer section of the Internships.com website (http://www.internships.com/employer/resources) is a great starting point for firms that want to begin offering internships, enhance existing internship programs, or improve the outcomes of internships as paths to full-time employment. Materials cover internship basics, recruiting and hiring, and running an internship program. Basic topics address benefits of starting an intern program, steps for setting up a program, advice for successful programs, and different options for internships. Important characteristics that attract exceptional interns include compensation, perks, meaningful work, accessible supervisors, and detailed directions (http://bit.ly/2hFLEnB).
Recruiting and hiring topics include sample internship descriptions for several fields, including accounting (http://bit.ly/2zVzsty). Seasoned CPAs who have had years to develop their own professional polish may benefit from the article “Top Reasons to Conduct Second Interviews for Interns,” which points out that intern candidates have even less interviewing experience than full-time candidates and may need a second chance to more accurately portray their personalities and give the employer a more consistent picture of themselves (http://bit.ly/2iA6QMT). Similarly, “8 Warning Signs When Interviewing Interns” provides a checklist of red flags that may signal a bad hire, such as arriving late, being unprepared, and being primarily focused on salary (http://bit.ly/2zZ8Ndf).
“Internships Made Easy” is a 29-page document containing suggestions for running a successful intern program and begins with a discussion of why employers should consider offering internships, including finding future employees, “test-driving the talent,” and supporting students (http://bit.ly/2B9TnD1). The advice describes identifying the organization’s goals and project needs, creating an intern manual and welcome procedures, onboarding and offboarding, and formal and informal evaluations. The booklet includes several excellent checklists and sample forms that even firms with established programs may wish to review.
“Interns: A Basic Resource Guide for Employers” is a 37-page guidebook covering the managerial and legal considerations in both paid and unpaid internships, provision of employee benefits, employment duration, and connection to consideration for full-time employment (http://bit.ly/2AWvqOQ). The booklet discusses the legal requirements for when interns must be paid and which company policies apply to interns. The appendices include sample offer letters.
Although Internships.com obviously wants employers to sign on with its organization, it should be noted that many colleges and universities host student career centers, and CPAs should therefore consider developing strong contacts with their local educational institutions. Internships.com provides a list of its college and university partners at http://www.internships.com/partners/schools, making this step a little easier for potential employers. Internships.com also hosts four blog columns, the most beneficial to employers being Intern Matters (https://internmatters.wordpress.com). Recent articles include when to post summer internships, how to help interns fit in, and tips for setting internship goals.
CPA Career Center
The AICPA’s CPA Career Center (https://cpajobfinder.com/employers) provides some interesting resources for employers, as well as job seekers. One page that may be helpful to smaller employers is a listing of employer resources (http://bit.ly/2mKmdqr) that provides specific actions steps for creating job postings that attract top talent, along with a detailed sample job posting. It also includes links to the U.S. Department of Justice’s Best Practices for Online Job Postings (http://bit.ly/2zZvZYK). The Virtual Career Fair (http://cpajobfair.vfairs.com) may allow employers to cast a wider net; the next job fair will be in January 2018, and employer registration is currently open. The Brand Profile page (http://bit.ly/2B4qR5H) provides extensive examples of how to use an employer profile on the CPA Career Center to attract candidates; however, the suggestions could also be independently used on a company website. Finally, there are short articles by Robert Half International on employer strategies, such as hiring for retention, making a job offer, determining competitive compensation, and managing effectively (http://bit.ly/2hPAVLc). The approach includes gathering all the facts, keeping the discussion private, criticizing the work and not the person, and letting the employee respond.
Accounting Principals (http://www.accountingprincipals.com) provides recruitment services for permanent and temporary accounting and finance positions. It offers a wide selection of employer materials, such as management tips, workplace trends, and hiring advice, on its employer resource webpage (http://bit.ly/2zYpSDY). According to a survey conducted by Accounting Principals, the three most important factors Millennials consider before accepting an offer are salary, growth opportunities, and company culture. The 2018 Accounting and Finance Salary Guide is downloadable as a 28-page PDF that presents average salary information for small, medium, and large companies, for specific positions in corporate accounting, public accounting, and banking and financial services, along with descriptions of many of the positions (http://bit.ly/2B4rhch). The booklet includes a table of variances from average base salary amounts for specific locations; for example, New York City is 124.66% of the average, and Washington, D.C. is 113.45%.
Accounting Salary Guides
Parker + Lynch
Robert Half International, Inc.
U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics: Occupational Employment and Wages
In addition, Accounting Principals offers several free publications, such as the monthly Jobs Report (http://bit.ly/2AhUmnD), which is an online summary of the latest labor and employment data and changes in the number of accounting and finance jobs. “Generation Optimization” is a 10-page white paper that describes characteristics of baby boomers, Generation X, Millennials, and Generation Y, and offers suggestions on how to recruit, retain, and inspire each (http://bit.ly/2jbVmOX). The final page provides some excellent and thought-provoking ideas for rewarding employees, including considering their unique interests, and showing appreciation with a simple “thank you.”
Finally, the Workforce Planning Guide is a 20-page guidebook that explains how the workforce planning process can help ensure that a firm’s human resources align with the organization’s goals (http://bit.ly/2Ak0tYk). It discusses the skills gaps in accounting and finance and approaches that companies can use to overcome them—as well as plan for the future.