I speak with 50-100 bilingual accounting and finance professionals every week. Recently, many finance professionals at the senior staff level are very interested in the job market and how it is changing in 2020, so I thought it might be useful to share some information here.
First things first: now is not a good time to think about changing jobs for most people. Many companies have stopped hiring, and some companies are reducing their headcount. Even stable companies in stable industries, like healthcare, are carefully considering each new role they open. There are fewer options than there were six months ago.
Unfortunately, some finance professionals in at-risk industries (e.g., hospitality, travel/tourism, retail, etc.) will lose their jobs, and they will have to find new ones in a smaller, more competitive market. If you are worried about your current job, you should start planning your job search now so you are prepared for the worst. Here are a few ideas to get started:
Talk to Recruitment Agents
As a recruitment agent myself, I strongly recommend speaking with a few different recruiters to get a general view of the job market and what kind of opportunities are available. At FocusCore, we specialize in roles with American and European SMEs and Fortune 100 companies. When agents tell you about vacancies, make sure they tell you the good points and the bad points about a job. For example, I recently worked on a Head of Finance position at a small company with a complex regional reporting structure and a lot of APAC interest and involvement in Japan. This could be helpful for a young professional taking on a Head of Finance job for the first time, but for more experienced professionals it would be a headache. No company is perfect, and a good agent will give you the full picture.
Be Realistic about Salary
In the past five years bilingual professionals have been able to increase their salaries by 15-20% when changing companies. This is unlikely to continue in the current market. If you are worried about the stability of your company and your current job, it’s good to be flexible about salary and take a long-term view about which new role is the best match for your career goals.
Consider Your Work-Life Balance Carefully
The last two months have given many professionals in Japan the opportunity to work from home for the first time, and it will be hard for most people to go back to commuting to the office five days a week. Fortunately, there are companies out there with well-established remote work arrangements, and most companies now at least offer employees flexible working hours. For example, one company I work with encouraged staff to work from home three days a week before this crisis. When considering joining a new company, it’s important to understand their current work arrangements and what their plans are in this area. Similarly, it’s important to understand what the typical work day looks like, and how much overtime is involved. Too many companies still expect people to work late into the night, but in 2020 you should not accept this if you have other options.
Please get in touch with me at firstname.lastname@example.org if you are an accounting and finance professional who would like to get more information about the job market in 2020.