For a number of job seekers and employees within the accounting job market, there is always a focus on their hard skills.
Whether that’s being CA/CPA qualified, obtaining an undergraduate degree/TAFE Qualification, or even the systems experience they have built up over time.
Whilst hard skills are definitely an important part of the hiring process and there will always be criteria for what hard skills are the most desirable, what can sometimes be neglected; is a jobseeker’s soft skills. This doesn’t just apply to the more experienced finance and accounting positions, where there is a close working relationship with CEO’s and Managing Directors. It also applies to the more transactional and clerical roles, working in a smaller team and to a Financial Accountant.
A job seeker’s soft skills can make or break the chances of receiving a job offer or possibly receiving a promotion. But what exactly are these soft skills which can enhance a job seeker’s potential?
- Presentation – Show pride in how you dress. When I meet a job seeker and they are dressed corporately (full suit etc) and throughout the interview they present themselves in a confident and professional manner, I instantly know that this is someone I would feel more than comfortable representing to a line manager.
- Communication – Make sure you speak clearly and you are prepared to explain your experience and responsibilities in detail. In addition, don’t be afraid to give examples about how you demonstrated your value in those roles. To give you an example, I have met with job seekers, who ‘on paper’ look perfect and would be successful in a short period of time; if the decision to recruit was purely based on hard skills. However, they struggled to articulate their responsibilities. It can lead to the thinking of whether these were their actual responsibilities as provided on their resumes. Job seekers in this category are more difficult to assist.
- Personality – This last behaviour is something recruiters and hiring managers want to see, to find out more about the job seeker. People want to work with people they like and to find interests in common. When interviewing job seekers who want to work in the accounting recruitment team with me, I always like to get to know them personally. What makes them tick, what motivates them, what do they like to do on the weekend/after work, and how I will be able to work with this person in order for us both to excel in our roles. Personality can give a hiring manager a clear yes or no answer of whether or not someone will fit in their team.
So yes, hard skills are important when looking for work. However, soft skills are just as, if not more important in terms of securing that highly desired role. They demonstrate to employers and recruiters who you really are as a person and it gives them an insight into their new team member.