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Inside the Payroll Talent Shortage in Australia

Australia is facing a major shortage in payroll professionals, and as a result, doors are opening for workers looking to grow within the accounting support space.

If you’ve been considering a job working in payroll, here’s everything you need to know about these roles and how you can get a leg up when you start applying.
 

What’s behind Australia’s payroll talent shortage?
 

According to AccountAbility’s 2019 Market Trends report, 64% of Australian businesses say they plan on hiring within the next six months. Accounting Support roles, including Payroll jobs, will make up a significant portion of these new hires, for a number of reasons.

In 2019, we’ve seen an increase in the number of organisations using HR Shared Services—new software and technologies that aim to automate processes across a number of HR services, including Payroll.

While automation may sound like it would lead to a decrease in job availability, the opposite is true, because these new shared services require a wider range of skills and knowledge.

This means that to stand out, candidates looking for payroll jobs need to upskill themselves in a number of key areas.
 

“Employers surveyed stated payroll was by far the most difficult area within accounting support to attract quality candidates.”

         - AccountAbility 2019 Market Trends report
 

What skills do you need to be a payroll professional?
 

There are some basic skills you need to be a successful payroll professional, and some of them are quite obvious. A good grasp on numbers and accounting, coupled with strong organisational and communication skills, will be an excellent start when you begin applying.

But this payroll talent shortage is no secret, and you’ll be up against a number of candidates with these skills. Fortunately, you can get ahead by upskilling. Here are the top skills payroll professionals should develop to get ahead:

Excel expertise

Though there are new softwares that payroll candidates will need to understand, Excel is still a big part of any payroll job. Fortunately, there are some payroll courses, like this one from ExcelWithBusiness.com, centred around mastering Excel from an accounting support perspective.

Understanding of payroll legislation

The payroll industry is complex, which means having a deep understanding of the ins and outs of payroll legislation is a must. You can enhance your own knowledge and boost your profile by taking tax courses, attending events, and generally keeping up with the legislative news. Once you feel confident about this topic, showcase your knowledge by writing a blog or LinkedIn post.

Change management skills

Because the landscape of accounting support is changing so rapidly, you need to prove that you can keep up with the times. During job interviews and on your personal profile, demonstrate your experience and methods to manage change. If possible, get endorsements from references who have seen your change management skills in action.
 

How to get a job as a payroll professional

If you want to take advantage of this exciting time for payroll professionals, here are a few things you can do.

First, know what kind of role and salary you should be looking for. There are entry-level roles in Payroll if you’re new to the sector, but if you have skills and experience, you can begin applying for more senior payroll officer jobs.

A base Payroll Officer salary starts at $70,000, with National Payroll Managers making as much as $140,000 a year—and according to our report, these figures are only set to rise over the next 12 months. Know these numbers ahead of time before you start applying to make sure the roles you’re applying for are appropriately compensated.

In AccountAbility’s 2019 Market Trends report, we found that 59% of current payroll employees used a recruitment agency to find their current role—far more than any other method. If you want help finding your next role in Payroll or any position within accounting support, AccountAbility is here to help. Get in touch with one of our payroll recruitment experts today.