Each year Proem Personnel Solutions fills hundreds of accounting roles with employers across the continent, and each time before we start a new search we have a meeting with our clients to discuss what traits an ideal candidate looks like. Our professionals found that clearly and confidently communicating your skill set and goals are detrimental to landing your next role. We’ve compiled the data and have narrowed it down to these four qualities that are a make or break for employers when deciding if they should present you with an offer.
The Right Network
I remember as a freshman thinking to myself, why in the world would anyone want to attend a boring network event for accountants, I’d rather be hanging out with my friends having some drinks. Fast-forward to senior year and it all clicked – it’s not about your grades, it’s not about your degrees. It’s about who you know and how much they like you, whether you’re a seasoned vet or a recent grad this is probably the easiest and most effective way to get an accounting job. Dig through your network and see who you know or who your close friends may know and ask them to put in a good word if you have an interest in a company or organization you may want to work at. Don’t brush networking aside because there are countless instances where great candidates have been passed on for an accounting job and a close friend of a partner or executive is hired instead
Work Experience in Accounting
Proem works with many talented candidates, but any employer who is looking to find a candidate for an accounting job will always have a preference to present an offer to someone with quality experience. For example, one of the candidates we placed this year had seven years of work experience in public accounting doing audit & assurance while completing tax work. A candidate like this was immediately hired in less than a week because of the level of experience she had.
With that in mind, not everyone out there would have had that much experience in accounting but what employers like to see is longevity and stability from a future employee. Candidates need to carefully think about what the day to day functions of the role would be to determine if they will be able to succeed. If you’re interested in an accounting role, review the job description- if it’s for a tax accountant you may be expected to demonstrate your competence by completing or examining a return. Don’t oversell yourself, when it comes to accounting because they’re so many different things a role could involve, that it’s better to be modest and humble about your skills now before your new employer finds you when you’re on the job.
If you’re a new grad, or so still in school trust me you will find it hard to land an accounting job, we know that it can be frustrating when employers are looking for “experience,” and you’re anxious to get your feet wet. Here’s our tip: if an employer truly wants to train someone and invest in their future, they will certainly look past the experience part and recognize that you’re trying to expand your skills. Stay positive feel confident. DO NOT LOSE HOPE!
Leadership & Communication Skills
As computers become more advanced and smarter, and with AI just around the corner, admin heavy or redundant roles will slowly be eliminated. What does this mean for anyone looking for a position in accounting? It means that you need to be able to adapt to effectively communicate to stakeholders or your clients if you want to rise through the ranks of accounting. One of my first mentors told me when I started off my journey into the accounting world, said to me that computerized accounting disrupted the profession when he was my age because it removed the bean counters and number crunchers. While that will always be a key part of the profession, it’s about understanding what the numbers mean and communicating it to the decision makers. If there’s any issue you’ve identified, an effective an accountant should be able to communicate that clearly. While it sounds easy, some accountants out there actually have difficulty with this. Your intangibles or soft skills will guide you through the wave of automation and AI we are about to live in, and you need these skills to separate yourself from the pack.
Attention to Detail
Dealing with a tonne of numbers, that are all interlinked to one another is one thing, but adding rules, procedures and compliance on top of that can make things trickier. That’s why its no surprise to see job descriptions that say “detail oriented” because any tiny mistake in accounting could be costly for your employer or client. Someone who can organize and manage multiple projects on the go would be perfect for an accounting role.
Ba da bing Ba da boom, passion or enthusiasm is the secret sauce when it comes to landing an accounting job, no matter where you are in the accounting hierarchy, you may get caught with “boring” or mundane tasks. CFO’s, Controllers and Partners all recognize that productivity has started to wane due to the rise in smartphone and that new candidates just don’t seem interested in what they’re doing. Everyone needs to take pride in the work they’re doing, to truly gauge how interested a candidate is, employers may occasionally ask “why do you want this role?” Use this as a chance to discuss what you’ll enjoy doing and what you don’t enjoy doing. If you enjoy doing tax returns or monthly forecasting, let them know you love it! HAHA
Most importantly, no matter where you apply to, try to personalize your cover letter or tweak your resume to improve the chances of being called for an interview. Try to form that connection with a decision maker right from the gecko.