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Gone are the days where finance and accounting professionals are simply number-crunchers, as they are expected to be strategic and dynamic, possessing strong interpersonal skills and business acumen. Those who have these skills in addition to the necessary knowledge and qualifications are not only likely to secure a role, but they are also more likely to rise through the ranks – finance and accounting professionals with exceptional people and management skills make great business leaders.
The switch to remote operations over the last 12 months has put additional emphasis on the importance of soft skills, particularly the ability to work autonomously, so hiring managers will be looking for candidates who are ‘self-starters’ and motivated. An increasingly digital world means candidates looking to pursue a career in finance and accounting will require a broad spectrum of skills, including digital literacy, good communication skills, and confidence in using multiple systems, AI and big data.
While there is undoubtedly a lot of competition, there are a great number of opportunities for those looking to enter or advance in the finance and accounting profession. Consider the following skills when preparing for an interview and the ways you can demonstrate your capabilities in these areas:
Being able to translate finance information to non-finance individuals and departments is a crucial part of any finance role, particularly with rising levels of seniority. Confidence and the ability to persuade are also key, where presenting and justifying financial decisions is needed.
Regardless of the specific role, more commercially-minded candidates will have the edge over those with less business knowledge. Finance departments are ultimately the lynchpin behind strategy, so this makes understanding the bigger picture necessary.
It may seem leftfield for a finance role, which is more typically associated with numbers and data than innovation, but creative finance thinkers can take financial information and turn them in to ideas to drive business and profitability.
The ability to analyse data and financial information is the bedrock of transforming number-crunching into meaningful business strategy.
This relates to accounting-specific software (e.g. SAP, Sage) but also digitalisation more broadly such as AI and big data.
While additional, soft skills are highly important, it’s important to remember a head for figures is still a fundamental part of the job.
Given the last 12+ months of the working landscape, the ability to work proactively and without direct supervision has become increasingly important.
Many candidates fail to understand the importance of the part of the interview where they get to ask their own questions. To do so, however, is to miss a great opportunity. Not only is this the chance to assess whether the role and the company is right for you, it also provides a further opportunity to showcase additional skills.
Consider questions that will reflect well on you and provide insight that will help shape your decision. When you’re at the early stages of your finance and accounting career, it can be easy to forget you’re interview them too!
What are the strategic plans for the business over the next five years?
In what ways could my own role help support that, and what opportunities are there for my own growth within the business?
What’s the day-to-day working environment like, and what is your business ethos?
Edward Mann can assist you in finding the right job move where you can fully utilise your skills and plan for personal growth to ensure a bright future. Our consultants will help you at every step of the way, offering application support, and interview advice so you make the right impression.
We can help you perfect your interview skills too, be they in person or done remotely!
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