How to Really Set Yourself Apart in Accounting and Finance Jobs

An increasingly global market and the continuing rise of social media are just a few factors changing the scope of accounting and finance jobs. While employers still place high value on education and experience in areas such as auditing and compliance, they’re increasingly seeking candidates who can bring something additional to the table.

To set yourself apart in the professional marketplace, follow this advice to add some sought-after skills — aside from what you might expect — to your accounting and finance jobs toolbox.

Advance with well-honed soft skills

Soft skills are often glossed over on resumes, with job seekers throwing in a few standard terms like “good communicator” and “strong problem-solving skills.” In a Robert Half survey, 30 percent of CFOs polled cited poor interpersonal skills as the key reason employees don’t advance in their organization. Interestingly, only one in five (19 percent) indicated their organization would be likely to invest in soft skills training for their finance and accounting professionals.

The message? It’s up to you to develop and hone your soft skills so a potential employer will notice when you show up ready to discuss attributes such as your critical thinking ability or multicultural awareness.

Raise your voice with public speaking  

Most people imagine professionals in accounting and finance jobs working behind desks, crunching numbers in solitude. However, putting together and delivering a public speech or presentation for clients — or for the organization — is often an important part of the job. If you have experience or training in public speaking, be sure to highlight it on your resume and in your interviews.

Related to public speaking, skills in persuasion are also valuable, so tout these if you have them and work on improving them if you don’t.

Sit down, listen and explain

In addition to compiling financial reports, you may be required to sit down with company leaders — or even clients or customers — and explain what the numbers mean and why they’re important. This requires not only the ability to clearly articulate your thoughts, but also strong listening skills in order to understand any problems or questions that may arise.


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Keep climbing with business acumen  

Professionals in accounting and finance jobs often find themselves in situations that demand well-developed business acumen. Understanding how the organization works as a whole is essential when it comes to explaining financial outcomes or defending budget projections.

Market yourself with social media savvy

Blogging and using professional social networking sites to brand yourself as an accounting and finance professional is key to success in a specialist economy. You can also pitch your social media savvy to a potential employer as a great way to promote the firm, reach new clients and stay updated on industry trends.

If you’re not sure how to get around sites like LinkedIn, Facebook or Twitter, it might be time to learn the lingo and show employers you’re ready to connect.

Get out your message to a wider audience

This one may seem a little out there, but it’s important from an external and internal perspective. For example, if the CPA firm you’re applying with is eager to boost its name recognition, the hiring manager may be looking for an accountant who can support media relations efforts by becoming an interview source for news outlets or writing a personal finance column for the local newspaper. This is also a key skill for managers, who must be able to consistently convey the company’s vision and expectations to their teams.

Looking for more advice on the subject of careers in accounting and finance? Read Top Skills and Certifications for Accountant Jobs.

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Editor's note: This post was updated in 2016 to reflect more current information.