If there is a general war for talent, finance is fighting on the frontlines. The number of students on the CPA track fell to its lowest level in 20 years during the 2001–2002 school year, before Sarbanes-Oxley ratcheted up the demand for auditors and doubled the workloads of in-house controllers. As a result, accounting firms are competing fiercely for new graduates and CFOs are bemoaning the difficulty of finding capable staff.
Accounting is so hot, in fact, that students are now courted in their sophomore years and often entertain juicy offers well before they graduate. Who would have guessed that accounting majors would come to be recruited with an intensity formerly reserved only for basketball stars?
But it's not just entry-level professionals who are feeling the love. Experienced executives, particularly those at more-senior levels, can now parlay the demand for their skills as never before. Curious about how CFOs, controllers, and others are negotiating this world of expanded opportunity, deputy editor Lori Calabro, with help from Alix Stuart, Laura DeMars, John Goff, Gareth Goh, and Roy Harris, has put together a careers package that looks at the new realities both within and outside Corporate America. "A Perfect Fit" follows the job searches of several finance executives at various stages in their careers as they look for their ideal job, while "Hire Callings" traces the odysseys of 11 people whose search for that perfect fit has taken them in completely new directions. Together, these stories offer a portrait of a profession in flux, and of professionals who are far more inclined than their predecessors to chart their own courses within it.