Thursday, December 11, 2008

Steady as She Goes

The first quarter 2009 job market in accounting and finance is holding steady, with 82 percent of CFOs saying they won't be making changes in staff size, according to the Robert Half International's Financial Hiring Index.

Just 9 percent of the survey's 1,400 respondents said they planned to add staff, but only 8 percent planned cuts. That creates a net increase of 1 percent, explains Robert Half Finance and Accounting Manager Kathy Downs, who adds that some big differences showed up based on company size.

The survey says 18 percent of the CFOs at companies with 1,000 or more employees expect to hire in the first quarter, while 8 percent plan to downsize. At firms with 20-49 employees, an equal proportion of CFOs, 8 percent each, planned to increase or decrease staff.

She suspects the credit crunch may be creating the difference. “Larger companies are not struggling as much with credit facilities as small companies,” she says. “If you’re reliant on bank lines of credit, you’re anticipating the market being more difficult in 2009,” Downs says.

It’s also possible that larger companies are running leaner than they like to so they can hit year end-numbers. They’re realizing they’re going to have to make a move to add staff in the first quarter, she adds.

In particular, companies are looking for employees who can identify cost efficiencies or know other ways to enhance profitability, adds RHI Chairman and CEO Max Messmer. The most in-demand niches: credit and collections specialists, public accountants and staff and senior accountants.

By region, the hottest markets for accounting job-seekers are the Middle Atlantic states (a net 9 percent of CFOs looking to hire) and the Mountain and West South Central states (a net 7 percent of CFOs looking to hire). You can check local results for the survey at the RHI Web site.

By industry, manufacturing looks good (a net 6 percent increase), as does professional services (a net 5 percent increase).

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