Education


What Employers Really Want

Public accounting firms, employers in business and industry and not-for-profit employers all look for well-rounded communicators when they go hunting for new recruits. And they want them to be able to communicate both verbally and in writing.

These were the major findings of the Accounting Education Survey, a national survey of 742 potential employers of accounting students. The employers surveyed varied by location, type and size. Ronald A. Stunda and George F. Klersey, both accounting professors at Birmingham-Southern College in Birmingham, Alabama, compiled the survey.

"Employers also want candidates who have done things, whether it's community work or work in the field they wish to enter, that make them more well-rounded individuals," Stunda said.

In addition, the survey showed that students used internships to bolster their qualifications while employers used them as a recruiting tool.

"Internships help companies target future employees at a very low or no cost," Stunda said. "We expect to see more internships in both public accounting and nonpublic accounting." Based on anecdotal information collected with the survey results, Stunda surmised that companies and firms ultimately hired a significant number of their interns.

Stunda and Klersey made the following recommendations, based on their findings, to potential employers:

  • Recruit from schools with reputations for producing quality accounting graduates.
  • Establish an internship program because hiring interns can reduce recruiting and training costs.
  • Expect to pay top graduates $35,000 to $40,000 if you are a firm; companies can expect to pay between $25,000 and $35,000 for quality new hires.
  • Seek the best students, but be willing to sacrifice a higher grade point average for more rigorous courses and/or outside activities.

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