Accountants analyse and prepare financial records for organisations and individual clients. However, in-demand skills for accountants vary by specific job title. For example, Certified Public Accountants (CPAs) specialise in tax forms, balance statements, and other forms of financial documentation that their clients must legally disclose. This role requires precision, analytical skills, and strong ethics.
Other types of accountants benefit from these skills, along with additional knowledge related to their professional niche. Management accountants, for example, must have a firm understanding of budgeting and corporate finance. In contrast, government accountants should understand the finer points of federal, state, and local regulations for taxation and financial reporting.
Regardless of their specific profession, all accountants must examine and interpret complex financial data and then communicate their findings to clients clearly and concisely. The role also requires strong interpersonal skills — many accountants work on teams and meet with clients regularly.
Accountancy. How many of you are aware of the skills required for a successful career in this area? In name, it may not seem the most glamorous career option available, but take a closer look, and you could find yourself at the heart of the business, making key decisions.
No matter how big a company ever gets, the need for an accounts department persists. Perhaps that focus is on auditing, maybe management or tax and finance related. Chances are, you will start in one of two career paths – technical or commercial.
For those of you with who feel numerically literate, here are the skills you need to start off on your journey.
Accountancy has been an indispensable tool of business since day one. No project can get off the ground without a tight control and solid method applied to the numbers. Innovation is needed because, as the business world evolves, so too does the accounting requirements that go with it. Often, recruiters will be looking for candidates with fresh ideas – poised to make an impact on the future of the accounting universe.
Hand in hand with a need for innovation is the need to understand the field in which you will be working. Assimilating new information and data, project management or meeting new clients forms the backbone of daily tasks. As such, understanding information quickly is essential, and it is through asking well thought out questions that you can get settled in no time. Start by understanding the different types of accountancy.
Part of the sacred requirements in any industry, once again, communication is vital. Accountants need to convey complex information in the most straightforward way possible. Whether you are an outside firm hired on behalf of a business, or you are part of an internal accounts team, you will likely need to work alongside colleagues on every level. Assessments of these skills start when you apply for your first accountancy role.
No matter where you work, what your job entails or who you work with, strong communication skills are incredibly valuable. Being able to communicate well in writing and person will help you to get a job, work as a team with your colleagues, interact with clients and, with time, advance professionally.
Well-developed interpersonal skills will also be useful for networking. Whether you have to attend a corporate function or are simply welcoming a new coworker to the office, the ability to assert yourself when meeting new people to establish profitable relationships will serve you well. Never underestimate the importance of making a good first impression.
It’s perhaps a little surprising that people forget about this. While certain skills are offshoots of common sense, the need for commercial awareness is crucial. Commercial awareness is, in essence, the knowledge of how and where your business fits in the market – how it is affected by economic, social and political movements and how it can forge ahead and evolve. It is about knowing your craft.
As with any role, enthusiasm is a key component that recruiters will look for. The ability to bring positive energy to a team and truly believe in what you are working towards is crucial. Enthusiasm is contagious; it demonstrates that you are willing to learn your trade.
Closely aligned with understanding and enthusiasm, the initiative is a must-have. It proves that you can work on your own, that you are an independent thinker and in turn, it will lead to you being trusted with more responsibility. It is particularly important if you decide to become a freelance accountant at a later stage of your career.
We all have particular brands we are fond of using. Most of the time, the reasoning behind our choices comes down to one thing: trust. The same applies when you are building your career. You want people to trust you. Credibility is the currency that you can trade on. With more credibility comes more opportunity. Through building a credible brand, you are also laying the foundations for a solid future.
A willingness to put in the hard graft is certainly recommended. As with any career, you will start at entry-level and, most likely, want to work your way up. It is not always going to be an easy path. An ability to work towards tight deadlines, juggle multiple clients’ needs and remain positive through these challenges is something that should not come as a surprise. Resilience is the ability to keep a cool head and put trust in your skillset.
Although this may not be immediately relevant, it is something to take into account before embarking on your career journey. Perhaps one of the benefits and appealing aspects of a career in accounting is flexibility. However, it is also important to build a solid foundation early on in your career. Changing finance and accounting jobs every year can be a disadvantage as employers will be looking for good CV stability and a career that has progressed well. Make sure you find the right balance.
Finally, the presence of or the willingness to include international work experience will add another string to your bow. While this may not be something that is immediately present on your CV, it is worth bookmarking this skill for later use. Many commercial businesses are concentrating on the next phase of their organisational growth, and more often than not, this is linked to overseas trade.
Honesty and integrity are highly valued in the accounting world.
Accountants – and the firms they work for – pride themselves on adhering to the strictest ethical standards. It’s why the public, other businesses and the government know that they can trust accountants to always look out for their best interests.
Being transparent when making decisions and giving advice has the added benefit of improving your working relationships. It will make teamwork easier and will help you to foster an environment that is respectful and collaborative.
Many accountants work on larger teams, so the importance of being trusted can’t be overstated. Get into the habit of thinking about the consequences of your actions each time you have to make a big decision.
Being a good leader means knowing how to mentor and teach, and making yourself approachable and available to the people you’re responsible for. You have to balance being a role model and the person in charge while still being part of the team. It also takes confidence, patience, and the ability to delegate – traits which don’t come easily to most people.
In accounting, leadership skills also include strategic thinking and long-term planning. Many accountants provide consulting services, which means that they offer advice and business solutions to help companies improve their operations, so the ability to look ahead is key.
The top players in accounting are generally known for being visionary – for making logical decisions that also involve a bit of creativity. To be a successful accountant, you need to be able to show your clients that you’re working to improve their present and future.
Accountants should look to be knowledgeable in general IT and accounting software, especially when it is likely your client will know how to use it too.
Cloud accounting is the latest technology break-through in the accounting industry. Working in the cloud means data and software are available anytime and anywhere, so clients can keep their finances up to date across different platforms. Many clients will also be technically savvy about the cloud, but for those who aren’t, the accountant needs to step in and explain it clearly.
The lines between accounting and technology are blurring so it’s not surprising that organisations are looking for people who are not just skilled in accounting but have technical skills – or at least a certain level of comfort and enthusiasm about technology.
Showing a willingness to learn new solutions and help others do the same is critical. Make time for training that is offered even when it seems to interfere with the day’s tasks. Learning new skills may save you time in the long run.
There is a distinct difference between hard skills and soft skills in the workforce. Hard skills are the specific tasks and abilities you need to be able to do to perform your job functions and perform them well. Hard skills translate to the tasks you’ll need to be able to do day in and day out.
When it comes to accounting, most of the hard skills you need to know come from higher education, a bachelor’s or master’s degree, and organisations will often require them. For basic bookkeeper positions, you can likely get by without higher education. Still, for accounting and business positions, the additional knowledge you get from a degree is vital to your success.
This is an industry accounting function that boils down to writing checks and managing the budgets for your vendors. It means working with department heads to understand what the vendors do, establishing budgets with departments, and working directly with the vendors to send them their checks when they submit invoices. Skills in accounts payable and receivable are extremely relevant for those in industry accounting and is a great skill to list on your resume.
Accounting departments in industry accounting are often responsible for managing all the vendor accounts that need to be paid. This means loading them into whatever software system you use, making sure they’ve delivered their goods or services, and more. On your resume, it’s smart to list that you have direct experience in working with vendor contracts, tax documentation, and invoices. All of these elements are used by accounting departments every day, especially in industry accounting.
Some people in industry accounting are responsible for working on budgets with departments and executives. They will help analyse the previous year and forecast how budgets will need to be handled the next year. They are responsible for helping distribute money to different departments, doing reimbursements when needed, and ensuring that everything is done with proper documentation and correct financial practices. You can use your resume to demonstrate that you have experience making budgets, and you understand the financial practices to keep a budget on track.
Everyone loves to get paid, and those in industry accounting are the ones to thank. Accountants are in charge of making sure that everyone in your organisation gets paid, from helping to set budgets to signing the actual checks. They are responsible for the deadlines, working with direct deposits, bonuses, and more and listing on your accounting resume that you have payroll experience sure to go a long way when applying for industry accounting jobs.
All the different kinds of accountants work with bankers, insurers, and solicitors as part of their job. It’s the job of accountants to get information and work with these other professionals to understand how an organisation’s finances are working. They communicate with these other professionals to get answers to questions, manage the organisation’s accounts, protect assets, and keep an eye on the overall financial situation of their organisation. Listing on the accounting resume that you have worked with these kinds of professionals demonstrates that you’re prepared to handle whatever a new employer can throw at you.
Audit accountants utilise GAAP or Generally Accepted Accounting Principles as they run their audits on companies. Internal auditors run audits on their own organisation’s finances, while external auditors run audits on other organisations. Accountants need to have an understanding of financial reporting to read a company’s financial statements and ensure that everything is being done legally and correctly. Organisations who aren’t running their finances correctly according to these standards could be committing fraud, so it’s vital for accountants in industry and audit accounting to understand what the proper procedures are.
Tax accountants need to have an understanding of how the tax code works and how it applies to individuals and businesses. They also need to know how to stay up-to-date on changes to tax codes and understand how these changes impact individuals and businesses. If you’re hoping to be a tax accountant, it’s smart to list the kinds of taxes you’ve done on your accounting resume so you can demonstrate your understanding of tax laws and codes to potential employers or clients.
Beyond the hard and soft skills that accountants need, some technical elements and accomplishments are required for accountants to be successful. There are specific software systems that most accountants have to use at one time or another, and knowledge in these areas is key to landing a job. Listing these on your resume will help you demonstrate that you’re prepared for job responsibilities.
Most of an accountant’s work will be done in spreadsheets, which are created in Excel. Most accountants will have hundreds of Excel spreadsheets that keep all their work. Accountants need to have more than a basic knowledge of Excel; they need to be able to use functions and formulas, creating detailed spreadsheets that look great and are easy to understand and read. Listing that you are fluent in Excel on your resume will help potential employers see that you’re prepared for the demands of an accounting job.
Many organisations utilise data analytic software to help look at their budget and finances. Accountants need to understand how to use these kinds of software systems in order to succeed. Listing data analysis software on your resume will show to potential employers that you’re prepared to handle the different software systems they utilise.
Quickbooks is a common payroll and accounting software that most accountants use. It helps small and medium businesses with payroll functions, invoicing, vendors, and more. Putting Quickbooks on your resume will demonstrate to all potential employers that you know the very basic, vital software involved with accounting. This is particularly important for industry accountants who are working on billing and payments in their organisation.
Vendors and clients are often housed in CRM systems, and accountants need to be able to work within these systems to handle payments and billing. CRM systems are also used to house customers and budget information. Accountants who list CRM system experience on their resume are demonstrating to employers that they are prepared to work with the various software systems that may be involved in their day-to-day responsibilities.
Nearly every organisation utilises team messaging and conferencing to talk to clients and other workers around the world. Being technologically proficient enough to be part of messaging systems and calls is vital for an ever-growing, technological workforce. Showing your ability to work within these kinds of technologies shows potential employers you’re prepared to work with coworkers and clients anywhere, anytime.
Once you’re on the path to get your accounting degree, it’s vital to know how to prepare your resume to land a job once you graduate. These hard and soft skills are vital to helping you find success in your dream accounting job.
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