In the accounting and finance world, many professionals measure their worth in degrees, accolades and relevant experience. While all of these traits can weigh heavily on an employer’s decision to hire, I often find that candidates don’t put enough emphasis on soft skills. Expressing soft skills during an interview and on the job can be a huge benefit to a candidate. I assure you, employers will not overlook these positive attributes.
So what are the soft skills that all employers are looking for? Not surprisingly, many of these traits are simply things your parents taught you. Say “please” and “thank you,” dress presentably, don’t chew with your mouth open. The list goes on and on. But while minding your manners can be charming, employers will also be impressed by other simple personality traits that you may not have considered.
Watch the latest #IGotThis in a Minute video, where we share inside tips on what soft skills you should have for your next interview!
The following soft skills not only can give candidates the edge in an interview, they may the difference makers that help you get ahead in your career. These are traits that can make or break an employee when confronted with an overwhelming workload, unclear direction or potential workplace conflict. Here are five soft skills that every up-and-coming accounting and finance professional should have:
While everyone should be a team player, a sense of independence can be just as important, and potentially have even more impact. Especially in the accounting and finance world, someone who expresses the ability to independently manage their workload and complete projects on time is incredibly attractive to potential employers. It’s every manager’s dream to have an employee who will take the first step in trying to uncover the answer to a question, or resolve conflict before asking his or her manager to help.
As an accounting and finance professional, it is crucial to remain neutral and look at situations logically. The most successful pros use objective analysis – without involving politics, persuasion or bias – to determine the best possible approach. In addition to remaining personally impartial, it is also important to not let the opinions of colleagues have too much influence when it’s time to make a decision. We often find ourselves so caught up in “the easy way,” or “the most popular way,” that we overlook “the best way.” Candidates who possess the soft skill of objectivity are true gems in the accounting, and corporate world.
The workplace is not much different than the rest of the world – you’re going to find that your colleagues all have different personalities, work styles and perspectives. They all come from different backgrounds and will use their diverse experiences to influence the way they interact with each other. Be understanding and respectful of their various viewpoints. Even if you can’t always relate, or don’t always agree, try to listen with an open mind. Being able to see and understand situations from different points of view is a valuable characteristic. Who knows? It just might complete change the way you approach a problem.
If smiling was considered a soft skill, I would consider that the most important soft skill to have. Work can be a stressful place and keeping an optimistic outlook can be challenging – especially when you’re trying to achieve any sense of work/life balance. However, the coworkers that I admire the greatest are the ones who are always optimistic and approaching situations positively. These employees tend to be more productive and, often, more successful.
Negativity and complaining is incredibly contagious and time-consuming. We are much more efficient when we are able to adjust to circumstances and quickly decide how to make the best out of the situation. The good news is: positivity is contagious, too. Candidates that can show potential employers that they are supportive, constructive and upbeat by speaking optimistically about their future will help the employer envision them as part of a long-term solution.
5. …But Realism
Although optimism can be an attractive soft skill, realism is just as important. A levelheaded candidate who can take a step back, consider all factors, and determine which path to take can be a huge asset to an accounting or finance team. A successful professional must be able to ask sensible questions like: What resources are available? What are the associated costs? What risks will occur? How can we communicate success to our clients? Having the right answers is important, but employers first want to know that you can ask all the right questions before making a big decision.
The next time you interview for a potential accounting or finance position, don’t forget to show off your soft skills! While your CPA degree, or college GPA can be impressive, the soft skills can be just as important to a future employer.