Shad Lira, Director of Permanent Placement Services for Robert Half International’s Houston Galleria office, shared her thoughts about financial hiring trends in Houston.
What are the current financial hiring trends in Houston?
Financial hiring in Houston is very strong and showing no signs of slowdown. According to the Robert Half International Financial Hiring Index, Houston was the #1 market in the U.S. for financial hiring in the third quarter.
Fourteen percent of CFOs surveyed said they planned to add staff in Q3 and four percent anticipated reductions. The net 10% hiring increase is 10 points above the national average and four points above Houston's second quarter results.
Demand for skilled accounting and finance professionals remains steady, and many Houston employers continue to find it challenging to hire skilled talent.
Much of the hiring activity in Houston is driven by the oil, gas and energy sector, which is spurring growth in other industries.
We are seeing some candidates at the Baby Boomer age who are retiring and leaving the workforce, and as a result, hiring is taking place to replace these professionals and groom their successors.
Many Houston employers are maintaining current staff levels as they evaluate personnel needs.
What types of positions are in demand?
In Houston, we're seeing high demand for financial analysts and those with financial reporting experience.
Controllers and CFOs are in demand due to industry and company growth.
Staff and senior accountants with a CPA and at least three years of experience are being hired to handle projects ranging from maintaining the general ledger system to analyzing and preparing financial statements.
We are seeing a great deal of specialty positions that are oil and gas related, such as revenue accountants, joint-interest billing accountants, tax candidates and auditors.
What level of skills are in highest demand?
Companies are looking to hire mid- to senior-level financial professionals to assist with growth initiatives, but in many cases are finding a shortage of highly skilled candidates.
What industries are hot in Houston, especially for financial positions?
The oil, gas and energy sector is on fire and experiencing rapid growth in Houston. Within the energy sector, we are seeing demand in three areas: exploration & production, alternative energy and midstream energy. In addition, vendors or any type of company that works with this industry is experiencing positive growth.
We are seeing significant growth in the manufacturing industry, due to its association with the oil and gas industry.
Hiring activity is also strong in business services, finance, insurance and real estate and wholesale industries.
What does Houston have going for it that differentiates it from other cities experiencing job growth?
Houston is a great place to live and work because it has a very economical standard of living and year-round warm weather. The heavy concentration of businesses in the oil & gas and medical/healthcare industries contributes significantly to job growth and adds many new positions.
What advice do you have for job seekers?
Be sure to highlight your soft skills (communication, problem resolution, etc.) to employers, not just your technical skills. In today's job market, soft skills are just as important as your financial skills and expertise.
Use all of the job-hunting tools available. More people are using social networking sites, for example, which can be useful in making valuable connections.
Thoroughly prepare for interviews and be able to concisely explain to hiring managers why you are the right fit for the role.
Work with a specialized financial recruitment firm that has an extensive network in the local business community and can provide career guidance.