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After months of volatility and uncertainty, the jobs market it slowly but steadily making a comeback. Although Melbourne has experienced one of the toughest lockdowns in the world, both candidates and employers are now much more optimistic about the future and many companies are starting to ramp up their hiring activities.

Here, our experts share their insights into what’s happening in the world of accounting, finance and business support recruitment in Melbourne right now.

Job ad postings across Australia have climbed back to 80% of pre-COVID levels

In recent weeks, the number of job ads posted on SEEK has reached 80% of pre-COVID levels across Australia, indicating that the employment market is beginning to stabilize nationally. However, the varying levels of state-to-state restrictions have been reflected in local trends. The number of job ads in South Australia, Western Australia, Tasmania and the Northern Territory are surpassing pre-COVID levels, Queensland is at 90%, and in New South Wales they’re up to 77% of pre-COVID numbers. Job ads in Victoria remain lower at 56% – but this should still be taken as a positive sign as it’s the highest level of job postings we’ve seen since the pandemic began.

JobAdder’s latest report also indicates that the market is stabilizing, with the number of new jobs being posted climbing gradually back up to almost pre-COVID levels month-on-month since April.


Both senior accounting and finance roles and accounting support openings are on the rise

Natasha Jordan, Senior Recruitment Consultant at Accountancy Options says: “It has continued to be a very busy year for me and although it has had ups and downs, more accounting support job ads are appearing and private advertisers seem to be active again so the outlook for the accounting support market looks promising.”

“The senior market is certainly moving at a Financial Controller / “Head of” level, as well as at a Finance Manager level. Analytically competent candidates are also in particularly high demand at the moment,” adds Andrea Ogden, Director of Accountancy Options.

As local restrictions ease, we can expect to see further improvement in job ads.


Job applications on SEEK are also returning to pre-COVID levels

As the jobs market begins to recover, candidates now have more choice, and less competition. This reflected in their number of applications per job, which are moving closer to normal pre-COVID levels according to SEEK.

“Candidates who put their search on hold due to market uncertainty are now feeling they have waited long enough, and are ready to move if the right opportunity presents itself.  They have also been pleasantly surprised by the salaries on offer and more flexible conditions,” says Andrea.


The accounting and finance market is strong across a wide spread of industries

Many industries have been surprisingly resilient throughout the pandemic, and construction and infrastructure remain particularly strong in terms of business security and willingness to hire.

“Technology, energy, FMCG, supply chain, legal, government and financial services are also still going strong – and even sectors who are struggling are in need of transformation and finance professionals to help them through the recovery” explains Andrea.


Temp and contract opportunities are rising

Unsurprisingly, the majority of jobs filled by recruitment agencies are temp and contract roles, which currently account for around 70% of job openings in Australia.

Interestingly, JobAdder statistics show that temporary placements in Australia were slower to rebound than permanents, although the increase has now held steady since June.

“I have found that the senior accounting and finance market has been busiest in the long-term contract space, mainly in credit management, senior payroll/HR change projects, audit, tax, and business services,” says Amanda Alter, Director at Accountancy Options.

Employers have also been retaining temps who were working pre-COVID or transferring them to fixed term contracts, says Natasha: “After the pandemic hit my clients were very keen to ensure they retained people with valuable existing knowledge about their company.”


Statistics show that recruiters are more active

Perhaps one of the clearest indications of the market bounce-back is the number of recruiters who are active on JobAdder – one of the world’s leading recruitment software providers. In Australia, you can see a massive decline in users as the virus hit back in March, which was down 1,000% compared to February 2020. However, by September this figure had risen back to match almost the same levels of February 2020.


Remote onboarding gets positive reviews, but new staff are self-conscious about asking for help

“Feedback from most clients has been refreshingly positive about the remote onboarding process and some clients have even said they’ll fully adopt this approach in the future” says Natasha.

Candidate feedback on new ways of working has been mostly positive, but some are missing being in the same room as their team to ask the casual “can you show me that again?”.

Imogen Stroker, Recruitment Consultant at Accountancy Options says: “Overall, everyone that I placed over the pandemic struggled at first, especially because they couldn’t swing their chair around if they had a quick question – now they had to make a formal phone call or zoom call. But things are going smoother now that they’re used to it. Clients are also more in tune with how new starters are feeling and there are more “wellbeing” check-ins happening.”


If you’d like to speak to an experienced recruitment consultant about current trends in your specific market, contact us today.

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