The impact of COVID, including the shutdown of Australia’s borders, has generated a demand for top talent in finance and accounting, the likes of which we have not seen before. The finance jobs market, in turn, has been heavily skewed in favour of candidates, with a vast array of opportunities and competitive remuneration packages on offer.
At Moir Group, we are currently seeing many senior candidates negotiating significant salary increases when making the move to a new company. This is particularly notable for first-time movers from the Big Four (salaries of $230k and below). And this trend doesn’t look to be abating anytime soon.
However, not all finance professionals will reap the benefits of current circumstances. Whilst there is a lot of choice out in the market, the best opportunities are reserved for truly exceptional candidates. So if you’re looking to make a move and harness the potential of the current finance jobs market, how best to ensure you stand head and shoulders above the rest?
Below are our five top tips to best position yourself for success:-
1. Master your soft skills
With experienced senior finance professionals, potential employers often assume that core technical skills are a given at interview stage. Instead, there is a strong focus placed on the soft skills candidates can bring to the table. Traits at this, more human, end of the skills-spectrum include empathy and effective communication.
This makes sense when you consider how the role of senior finance leader has changed in the last few years. With CEO’s and CFO’s working together very closely now, there needs to be the potential to build strong relationships and influence the wider team.
When going for a role, consider if your focus to this point has been on the more technical skills and experience you possess. If this is the case, it may be of value to delve further into your past career, mining it for examples of situations where you have effectively utilised soft skills. This may include effectively leading people through change and challenge, particularly during COVID times. Come armed with your examples and be prepared to talk about them in detail.
If you’re struggling for inspiration, you may be interested in this previous Moir Group event with Change Expert, Simon Rountree. Here, we discussed the real value of building stronger human elements and empathy in business interactions.
2. Consider the fit
From our experience, many clients go into the recruitment process with a clear idea of the personal traits they are looking for in a candidate. In fact, we are finding that having a good ‘fit’ with a business often overrides sector experience and technical ability. This fit may relate to the culture of the company or the overarching mind-set of its current employees.
Of course, this will vary greatly from business to business (and we wouldn’t advise you to shoehorn yourself into a working culture that doesn’t suit you). However, it is definitely worth doing your research if you’re looking to make a move to an organisation that has a very different culture to your current employer. Remember, the questions they are weighing up may not always be the ones you would expect, for instance: ‘Would I go for a drink with this person?’, ‘Would I want to spend time getting to know them?’
3. Don’t forget the small stuff
Details matter. You may feel confident that your skills and experience are well-matched to a role but it’s important to remember that many factors contribute to the overall impression you are making. It’s about the whole package.
Things to consider may be as small as what you are wearing. You may be used to ‘putting your best foot forward’ by dressing formally for face to face interviews, but these days zoom interviews do not require such a buttoned-up look and often have a more informal tone. It’s worthwhile considering the situation of your interview (as well as the individuals you are meeting with) and ‘match the mood’.
Similarly, you may not be a natural at making small talk but it’s important to consider your engagement skills and practice making natural and comfortable conversation that is not solely focussed on the job (for instance talking more about yourself and your interests outside work).
4. Be yourself
Whilst it’s important to do your research and strive to fulfil what a potential employer is looking for, ultimately, it’s important for you to be yourself. Not presenting your authentic self in an interview to match a perceived expectation may lead to you taking a role that is not a strong match for you. From our experience, this does not lead to long-term success.
Play to your strengths and consider your value proposition, i.e. what you are truly excellent at. Be prepared to talk about it with strong examples that demonstrate your depth of thinking.
To ensure a good cultural fit, do your research on the business you are interviewing with. This will ensure you have a solid understanding of their values, ethos and personality before reaching a decision.
5. Tap into your networks
Don’t forget your networks! Tap into them and make sure you’re speaking to people you have previously worked with to ensure you are covering all your bases in the job search. This is an important part of the mix and can often be overlooked or under-utilised.
And as a final takeaway, have confidence! Senior candidates have never been more in demand in the Australian finance jobs market. This is an opportunity to step back, assess your current situation and define what you are striving for in your long-term career. Backing yourself will go a long way to making it happen.