In today’s competitive job market, finance and accounting applicants often come with resumes chock-full of certifications and professional qualifications. But did you know it takes non-accounting skills to set yourself apart from the crowd?
An Accountemps survey found that, in addition to traditional accounting knowledge, CFOs see general business knowledge as the most-valued non-accounting skill, followed by information technology, communication skills, leadership abilities and customer service orientation. (See the infographic below for details.)
So if you’re solely focused on crunching numbers, you might be overlooking critical soft skills needed to be an accountant today.
Here are five reasons why these non-accounting skills are in demand:
1. General business knowledge
Accountants are playing a larger role in businesses today. Employers are looking for accounting and finance professionals who possess strong business acumen to help develop strategy, inform key decisions and serve as business partners across multiple departments.
2. Information technology
As organizations face mounting pressure to meet corporate governance regulations and ensure the security and integrity of their financial data, aptitude in emerging accounting technology becomes particularly important. Employers are looking for accounting professionals who are proficient in the latest database applications and enterprise resource planning programs. Also, many companies are migrating to more sophisticated systems and analytical tools, so they’ll need accounting and finance professionals with strong technical know-how to adapt quickly.
3. Communication skills
Accounting and finance staff need to be able to tell the story behind the numbers, particularly for colleagues in other departments less familiar with accounting principles and jargon. Both verbal and written communication skills are critical for success in an accounting role.
4. Leadership abilities
Managers have an eye on the future and want professionals who possess strong leadership qualities who can step into more senior roles when the time is right. They look for individuals who can avoid or resolve conflicts, adapt well to change, mentor others and embrace continuous learning.
5. Customer-service orientation
“How can I help you?” shouldn’t be a phrase far from accounting professionals’ minds. Hiring managers today seek employees willing to roll up their sleeves and pitch in, even if it doesn’t directly benefit them. Remember to give excellent customer service to your colleagues on the job, too. Your career will benefit from it.
As an accountant or finance professional, you may already have the technical expertise and certifications to do the job. If you want to advance in your career, though, you really need to demonstrate other qualities — these non-accounting skills that are essential to your success.
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Editor's note: This post was originally published in 2013 and was updated recently to reflect more current information.