It’s a jobs worth.

Ask any finance staff member or accountant in practice where they turn to first when they get Accountancy Age and chances are they will give one of two answers.

For some the back page and its witty observations are the obvious place to start, but others make a beeline for the recruitment ads.

Thursday morning in any practice or finance department is a time of barely disguised enthusiasm for scanning the job ads. Furtive, secretive or entirely blatant and out in the open, looking at the job pages is a source of endless interest.

Career improvements, better pay, moves to a new location, who is employing and what are they paying – the ads give away tell tale signs of what’s happening in the profession and a measure of its health. Even news stories for Accountancy Age can be gleaned from a careful examination of the job pages, and it goes without saying that careful consideration has to be given to what’s being given away when an organisation places its recruitment notices.

First and foremost, the ads are about finding the right staff for the right job and moving on to pastures new. Managers would be shocked to know recent statistics show at any one time up to a third of finance staff could be registered with a recruitment consultancy. Another third will be prompted into sending off their CVs by browsing the jobs pages.

It’s disturbing stuff for partners attempting to bed down a team. But it makes the advertising vital. There is a shortage of good accountancy staff. It’s an applicant’s market and the pressure is on consultancies, agencies and firms to come up with better and better advertising to get the people they want.

Julie Murray, a spokeswoman for Michael Page Finance, one of the country’s largest recruitment consultants, says adverts have got to display finesse if they are to entice the right people into applying. ‘We spend more on recruitment advertising than any other company. We have a team of 20 people just working on putting together, designing and writing the ads. They can’t afford to be just wish lists.’

The Accountancy Age Recruitment Advertisement of the Year Award is designed to reward the best solo or campaign accountancy recruitment advertisement.

It must have been in the press – national or trade – in the 12 months to 30 June 2000. The award is open to consultancies, agencies or direct advertisers. Anyone wishing to enter has to submit details on the number of respondents to a particular ad, the calibre of the candidates, innovation in the message and a case study from the client. The closing date for entries is 28 July.

Opinions differ as to what makes a good ad, but those putting them together are clear that all successful recruitment advertising shares certain identifiable qualities.

Julie Murray at Michael Page says: ‘It has to catch the eye and it has to target the right audience. You can’t put it in a national broadsheet if the people you want do not read the broadsheets – there’s no point.’

Ads must also strike the right tone to reflect the sector in which the recruit will work. Those written for an accountant needed in the music industry will strike an entirely different tone to one seeking candidates for an investment bank.

‘You must consider what’s going to motivate the candidates to apply. The ad must understand the character and personality you are looking for,’ says Murray.

Those who read adverts week in and week out are a little more cynical about what they are seeing. One partner at a mid-tier firm says many ads claim more about employers than can possibly be delivered.

‘They’re like opening one of those noisy birthday cards – all music on the outside but once you open it up there’s nothing inside.’

Experienced accountants scanning the job pages for career advancement are able to spot a vocabulary of euphemism. Cliches annoy long serving finance staff. A partner at a top 20 firm says asking for ‘team workers’ is pointless.

‘It’s obvious you want team workers. You’re hardly going to advertise for someone who can’t work in a team because they’re not going to be any good,’ he says.

Imprecise information and generalities are also favourite bugbears -but there is appreciation for the good ads. An ad inviting candidates to move to a corporate tax office in Birmingham used the catchphrase ‘get your life into shape’ caused amusement and impressed one partner.

Another, which said ‘we are recruiting a senior partner for 20 years time’ impressed with its ‘forward looking’, message and clear invitation for ambitious people.

Whatever your view of the recruitment pages it’s clear they are becoming more sophisticated and professional.

For more details on how to enter visit

FIRST FOR CAREERS NEWS: ACCOUNTANCYAGE.COM is the leading website for accountancy professionals, providing news for the financial world as it breaks. It also provides daily e-mail news bulletins including access to our comprehensive careers survey and other careers news. This includes a comprehensive web directory, careers advice and access to Jobworld, which advertises thousands of vacancies in the finance sector.


Entry is free

Closing date for entries: 28 July 2000

Ceremony: 1 November 2000

Venue: Natural History Museum, London

Accountancy Age is happy to have won the backing of all five major accountancy bodies again this year along with a host of other key players in the accountancy profession.

As well as the presentations, the evening will provide an excellent opportunity to meet leaders of the accountancy world. You can reserve your seat at the profession’s top event of 2000 by dialling 020 7316 9539 or e-mailing:

– For an entry form visit:

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