Posted by Accountemps on Wednesday, February 5, 2014 - 00:00 | Follow me
Accounting professionals should never stop seeking opportunities to learn, improve and develop their skills, but in today’s workplace financial skills shouldn’t be the sole focus. The development of non-accounting skills — soft skills and interpersonal abilities such as work ethic, leading with compassion, customer-service orientation, enthusiasm, and the ability to respond well to criticism — are critical components to success.
You may be on your own, though, to find a way to hone your soft skills. According to CFOs polled in an Accountemps survey, a lack of interpersonal skills is the greatest barrier to moving up the corporate ladder for accounting and finance professionals. Despite this, only 19 percent of executives polled said their organizations are likely to invest in non-accounting skills training for accounting and finance staff in the next two years.
Here are some of those top skills in demand for accountants today — and how you can work toward developing them.
Analytical and strategy skills
Accountants are not just expected to crunch numbers anymore — they're expected to know how to analyze and communicate them to colleagues who may not understand accounting language. Being strategically minded and possessing the ability to deliver data-driven conclusions in an easily digestible manner can allow you to share information on how the company can increase profits and lower costs.
Business and leadership skills
The role of the accountant is broadening. Employers are beginning to look for candidates who can play a larger role in their business — candidates who have the ability to help develop strategy, make leadership decisions and even serve as business partners across more than one department. The key to developing sharper business acumen is to see the “big picture” — how external trends apply to company strategy. Pay close attention to what your boss has to say about company priorities and, if possible, find a mentor. This will allow you to develop a stronger understanding of your company’s business.
Written communication skills
Solid communication skills are invaluable in the workplace. Accountants must be able to use strong verbal and written communication skills to effectively tell the story behind their business and its numbers, especially when communicating to those outside of the department who may not be familiar with accounting terms and jargon.
Although you probably didn’t pursue a career in accounting because of your love of writing, today written communication is an essential competency for success in the field. Whether you’re crafting an email to your supervisor, sharing information about financial products with a client or preparing a report for the bank loan committee, you need to be able to write clearly and concisely. To improve your writing skills, stay on top of accounting articles, news and blog posts. Why? Reading is a key way to develop written communication skills. As a bonus, you can at the same time monitor and stay aware of new trends in your industry.
Verbal communication skills
To develop verbal and presentation skills, practice is key. Online courses and involvement in Toastmasters International can help you tune up your public speaking skills. But sometimes just speaking to your friends, coworkers and family about your work will help you develop confidence as a speaker and improve your verbal communication skills.
It may seem difficult to hone these skills on your own, but it can be done. The best way is to research, read and watch tutorials while keeping up-to-date with industry news about technology as it relates to accounting.
Looking for more career advice, accounting professionals? Visit our Accounting and Finance Professionals' Career Center for networking advice, job interview tips, online branding and free courses to enhance your accounting skills.