Today’s workplace is different than it was a year ago. It’s virtual, fast-evolving, and hugely dependent on technology. And, the economy is more volatile for Generation X, Y, and Z than it has ever been before.
Whatever job you are applying for, at any level, it comes down to the hard and soft skills that will set you apart. During these unprecedented times, there is more competition of talent supply and less job opportunity demand. Most interview processes are solely virtual, and in this competitive market, it’s harder than ever to stand out.
Accounting and finance professionals need to hone in on analytical abilities and interpersonal skills while maintaining a clear understanding of popular software, in order to secure a job opportunity right now.
Responsible for an organization’s most valuable commodity: money, finance professionals bear a great deal of responsibility and stress, even at the best of times. During more challenging moments, the pressure is only heightened. To navigate confidently in this crucial role, here are seven skills accounting and finance professionals can focus on to remain competitive in the marketplace.
1. Attested Accounting Qualifications
A university or college diploma in business, finance and or accounting with all the relevant courses to pursue a CPA, CFA, CBV, CICA In-Depth and/or MBA certification of choice.
Other industry-approved certifications and ongoing study courses in financial modelling, investment analysis, technical accounting, and emergent audit methodology are key as professionals’ progress throughout their careers. Leadership and management are also areas to focus on and grow in.
2. Excellent Competency in Modelling and Critical Thinking Ability
Working with numbers, accountants and financial professionals need to be highly proficient with Microsoft Excel, often Access, and all types of Financial Modelling.
While not all accounting and finance professionals will use Microsoft Excel daily, spreadsheets are an integral part of the industry. Often this is part of a case-based interview process.
Companies today are looking for candidates demonstrating insightful analytical thinking abilities and capable of implementing lateral thinking. Candidates that showcase strength in scenario analysis, that are capable of drawing suitable conclusions and analyzing spreadsheet data to make enlightened predictions should be prepared to convince the hiring managers of these abilities by also giving KPI driven real-life examples of results.
3. Superior Interpersonal and Communication Skills
Due to the sensitivity and importance of money, accountants and financial professionals often have tough conversations, daily! The ability for accounting and finance professionals to build and foster successful relationships with customers, suppliers, and partners is critical.
4. Leading-Edge IT Software Knowledge
Accounting and finance professionals’ responsibilities go much further than simply tracking money coming in and money pouring out. They need to stay up to date with all the latest and most relevant software used for critical daily decision making. If you are interviewing for a potential job, find out what software the company uses and read up on it to ensure you’re well educated about the company’s process and technology usage.
5. Master Skills in Financial Language
Know the language, learn the terms. Understand the financial models, statements, projections. All of it.
6. Proven Problem-Solving Skills
Exceptional problem-solving skills are a must for accounting and finance professionals. Many aspects of the day are unpredictable, now more than ever. What will be the financial implications of an upcoming merger or new business structure? Proven skills in tackling complex problems and finding efficient solutions will help your career reach new heights.
Include detailed examples of successful problem solving on your resume, and speak to these examples (and more!) during a job interview.
7. Acute Commercial Awareness
Working in business, it’s key to have an understanding of what is happening in the world on a micro and macro level. This has never been truer during the global pandemic. COVID-19 will surely impact many, if not all, areas of the financials. Be well read. Follow the markets, your industry, along with the global and local economic updates and happenings.