2024 Job Market Predictions
Many job seekers are facing recurring messages expressing gratitude for their interest in job opportunities, but unfortunately, the positions are being filled with other candidates. Recruiters who were once actively reaching out have significantly reduced their calls. Attempts to connect with LinkedIn contacts and other acquaintances often yield no responses. What is going on?!
For starters, the Big Four accounting firms underwent significant layoffs, shedding over 9,000 jobs in 2023. The layoffs, primarily affecting consultants in the US and UK, are attributed to a shift in client demands, with a focus on technology advisory work and data analytics services. The firms faced challenges as interest rates and the artificial intelligence boom reshaped the consulting services landscape. Despite a challenging economy, the firms aim to reposition their workforce to areas of higher demand, such as technology adoption and ESG strategy (environmental, social, and governance).
The layoffs are seen as a response to a softening market, delayed projects, and reduced demand for deals advisory work. The firms are now investing in artificial intelligence and exploring opportunities in generative AI tools to enhance services across tax, audit, and consulting. While there are glimmers of a rebound, with turnover picking up in some areas, the firms remain cautious in their approach for the coming year, anticipating slower growth and focusing on more conservative plans.
For candidates, the job search challenges are becoming increasingly discouraging, leading some to abandon their pursuit altogether. Recent US government data reveals that 1.6 million people were willing and available to work in December but chose not to apply for jobs. That's not surprising because of the holidays and how hard it is to schedule interviews, focus on applications, and get through the holiday hullabaloo. However, January hasn't looked much better. Additionally, there were 346,000 "discouraged workers" in the same month, defined as those who believe there are no suitable job opportunities for them.
Beyond the government statistics, anecdotal evidence suggests an even more challenging situation. Due to the intensified competition in the job market, the caliber and quality of our candidates open to new opportunities is at an all-time high. Layoffs across industries in 2023 have resulted in a surge of job seekers, while the number of available jobs has declined.
Experts point to the potential role of artificial intelligence (AI) tools in exacerbating the situation. While AI facilitates easy job applications by allowing candidates to customize resumes and cover letters, the influx of AI-assisted applications may cause qualified candidates to be missed. A haphazard approach to sending resumes to job postings results in poor response rates.
Despite the challenges, job seekers remain persistent. According to LinkedIn's Workforce Confidence Index survey, over 40% of workers in various US industries plan to seek new positions this year. To stand out, we say to go beyond the resumes. One example is a candidate who put themself through college and was in accounting well before graduating to get to where they are today. By sharing the lessons learned from this experience and relating them to the job, the candidate successfully secured the position despite not having gone to grad school for a master's in accounting, which was a qualifier.
We recommend additional strategies for standing out, such as providing links to relevant work samples, emphasizing key achievements, and addressing concerns of being overqualified with a well-thought-out explanation. Networking is crucial in the current job market, especially in a remote and hybrid work environment.
Tax professionals seeking new opportunities should reach out to us because we can get you in front of tax leaders before a job is even posted. Great tax leaders want to know who can join their team, regardless of currently posted vacancies. We are here to help!