There are, of course, many skills needed if you want to enjoy a successful career in the accounting field, but don’t overlook your hobbies and interests when it comes to identifying your strengths. Taking a holistic look at what you have to offer can make a real difference to your CV, and allow you to stand out to prospective employers.
The essential skills for accounting roles
Of course, if you are looking for a position in accountancy or other accredited professions, having the right qualifications is the essential first step. For the role of Accountant, relevant qualifications are likely to include a degree from a recognised institution, as well as an AAT, ACCA, CIMA or ACA certification.
However, it’s important to note that these qualifications are often classed by employers as “desirable” rather than “must-haves”, especially for more junior or entry-level positions. If you don’t have the qualifications listed, focus your CV on your willingness to learn instead. If you have undertaken any courses or extra learning, include the details even if you feel that it may not be relevant to a finance-focused role.
For example, an evening course in any subject tells future employers that you are committed, motivated and happy to study in your own time. As many companies are keen advocates of continuing professional development (CPD) and training, highlighting this quality is likely to work in your favour, and you may even find that your new workplace will support you to gain those valuable qualifications once you are hired.
Communication is key
It’s considered an essential quality for almost any modern role, and communication skills are highly valued in the financial sector. If you already work in an environment where you need to frequently talk with colleagues and clients, either by telephone or face-to-face, you will have good experience of effective communication.
A background which includes some public speaking can also be of benefit when looking to move into your dream finance role. After all, accountancy and related topics can be complicated and challenging to understand, so you will need to be able to clearly convey information to stakeholders, colleagues and other parties in an accessible way.
Transferable skills have real value
There has been a lot of talk about transferable skills in the recruitment field, and for good reason. If you can demonstrate that you have a good range of versatile skills such as great time management, creativity, integrity, and adaptability, then you are already showing that you have the makings of a great employee. Look back over previous roles and even your leisure activities to find examples of your transferable qualities that will be attractive to potential employers. If you volunteer with a community group, for example, you can demonstrate great team-working skills, whilst if you are a keen runner you might be able to evidence your commitment to working towards goals.
If you have experience of working in a busy environment, are accustomed to handling heavy workloads and know your way around IT systems and software, don’t be afraid to mention it. Typical workplaces in the financial sector are fast-paced, with plenty of data to be analysed, managed and presented. Whilst having a head for numbers is a prerequisite for a successful accountancy career, showing that you can balance multiple clients and prioritise your workload is also extremely important.
In our increasingly digitised world, having a sound knowledge and understanding of IT is a real asset, too. However, don’t be daunted if you are less than a technological whizz. If you are familiar with Microsoft suites including Excel spreadsheets, then you will be able to pick up skills in other common accountancy software applications such as Sage.
Have a head for business
Whilst the chances are that your day-to-day focus will be on your immediate clients, it’s always advantageous to demonstrate that you have some wider business acumen, too. Showing that you are aware of the commercial aspects of running a company can help you stand out from other candidates, and includes an understanding as to how the sector or business is affected by political, economic and social factors. If you can provide examples where you have shown awareness of these factors in previous jobs or projects, you will certainly present yourself as a high-calibre candidate.
The ideal candidate
Whilst there are plenty of qualities and skills needed for a successful career in finance, by carefully evaluating your past work and life experience, you will likely find that you already possess many of these. Take confidence from your prior achievements and show your ambition: that way, you could soon be in your ideal finance role.