Twelve percent of CFOs surveyed say they plan to hire professional-level accounting and finance staff in the fourth quarter (Q4) of 2011. A net five percent increase, according to Robert Half Professional Employment report just released.

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Hey! The report also shows that 21% firms plan to increase bonuses for the accounting and finance staffs.

The Robert Half Professional Employment Report is based on telephone interviews with more than 4,000 C-level executives and other leaders from a variety of fields throughout the U.S., who are asked about their hiring plans and general level of optimism for the upcoming quarter.

Survey respondents included more than 1,400 CFOs at companies with 20 or more employees; 1,400 CIOs at companies with 100 or more employees; 500 senior human resources managers at companies with 20 or more employees; 100 lawyers at law firms with more than 20 employees; 100 corporate lawyers at companies with 1,000 or more employees; 125 advertising executives at companies with 20 or more employees; and 375 marketing executives at companies with 100 or more employees, all of whom have hiring authority.

CFOs were increasingly optimistic about the hiring outlook, according to the report. The net 5% of financial executives who planned to increase accounting and finance staff in the fourth quarter of 2011 was up four points from the previous quarter?s forecast and the highest projected increase in three years.

 

Three Top Demand Position in Accounting and Finance

Here are 3 positions in top demand, according to the report:

1. Financial Analyst ? Companies need analysts who can evaluate financial plans, forecasts and budgets. Firms are looking for employees with a combination of fnctional expertise and strong inter-personal skills who can develop and effectively communicate strategies to control costs and boost profits.

2. Business System Analyst – Companies seek professionals who can combine finance and information technology expertise, enhance the organization?s existing systems, and leverage new hardware and software.

3. Staff and Senior Accountants ? Firms are hiring experienced professionals to manage fundamental accounting needs, including preparing financial statements, maintaining general ledger and performing account analyses. ?Experience overseeing areas such as accounts payable and receivable is highly valued.

Also promising, according to the report: 91% of financial executives expressed at least some confidence in their companies? business prospects for the final three months of the year.

Bonuses Plan in Q4

Executives were asked how they anticipate year-end employee bonuses will change those awarded last year, 21% respondents say that bonuses will increase for the Accounting & Finance, 17% respondents say lower and 60% say remain unchanged. Here are the complete figures:

For all industries, 12% of executives interviewed for the report said they were planning to hire professional-level staff in the fourth quarter of 2011, while 5% foresaw cutbacks. The resulting net 7% increase in hiring activity is up four points from the third-quarter forecast. The portion (82%) of hiring executives saying they anticipated no change in staff levels was down from 90% three months ago.

Fourth-quarter hiring projections were higher than the third-quarter forecast in nearly all professional segments.

In other side, CFOs reported greater challenges finding skilled financial professionals. In the third-quarter report, 41% of CFOs said it was at least somewhat difficult, but the number jumped to 59% in the fourth-quarter survey.