Accessability Links

Experienced Accountants vs. Newly Qualified

Posted by
03 Sep 2014

We are seeing an increase in vacancies available in the North East, which is great news for the region - furthermore, there is a trend developing to recruit young part qualified accountants or newly qualified accountants.

The packages for part qualified professionals are really good, as study support and flexible hours are available to help with the demands of studying while working. For more experienced roles, newly qualified or two years post qualified that are usually at the beginning of their career, are often being favoured over experienced accountants who have a work history spanning  several years.

Newly qualified accountants are ambitious, energetic and adaptable - who wouldn't want one in their team to mould into the future managers? However, experienced accountants bring industry knowledge, new ideas and concepts and real life experiences to help deal with daily challenges.

With so much talent around, how does a company decide to recruit?

A lot of companies are internally promoting their staff as they have an idea of processes in place and systems used, meaning there are more junior roles are appearing on the market. For senior and experienced accountants this means an already competitive market is increasingly more specific on industry experience and qualifications, with most roles at a higher level only considering fully qualified accountants and a background in the same industry as the position advertised.

Following recent redundancy, one of my very talented qualified accountants who is commercially astute and technically very able has found that a lot of the roles I am recruiting for are in favour of less experienced candidates. The problem isn't so much that he is turning up his nose at roles; rather clients are favouring less experienced people.

His argument is that he brings vital real life experience with him and can be left to deal with commercial decision making risk free. Therefore he is good value for money because he frees up time which his manager would have to use training someone who has not, for example, visited operational sites in the past.

I feel strongly that my best candidate can add real value and be value for money but there is an opinion he is underachieving or taking a role too junior for his experience.

One of the problems is that people judge by titles. Titles such as 'Commercial Manager' and 'Finance Manager' differ so much from one company to another, so if a larger business is recruiting chances are that a role which does not have a manager title still has the same package and responsibilities.

Furthermore, in certain places in the North East such as towards the Scottish boarders, rural County Durham, North Yorkshire and parts of Teesside good jobs are few an far between. The 'ideal' role often doesn't exist and those who are looking for a new role have to be flexible in salary and prepared to travel some distance but quite rightly won't do a role which isn't challenging enough for them.

The common misconception is that recruiting a newly qualified or qualified with two years post qualified experience would save money but in fact, there is often very little in this on a comparable basis, particularly if the individual in question has Big 4 experience.

There is also the possibility that hiring managers themselves are threatened by the seniority of experienced candidates and fear that their job may be made more challenging managing someone who is more experienced.

The many reasons lying behind this shift within the sector are endless and very specific to company preferences and structures. The fact remains that both can add value, just in different ways.

I am keen to hear thoughts on experience, particularly if you are a hiring manager, as I am often asked "Why can I not find a job, despite my wealth of experience?” Leave your comments below or contact me on hcoulthard@sellickpartnership.co.uk

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