14th May 2019
The first step towards landing that ideal role in finance is selling yourself on your CV – and to do that, you really need to make the most of all of your relevant skills.
It’s important to be able to cast a critical eye over your skills and experience in order to identify those that are deemed desirable to hiring managers in the finance sector. Many of those ‘must haves’ are transferrable skills, so regardless of whether or not you have an accountancy background, you may have many more applicable skills than you first think.
Take a look back over previous roles, courses studied and even extracurricular hobbies and activities, to remind yourself of any hidden achievements and talents that make you a great match for the role. Be sure to highlight these on your CV so that a potential employer can clearly and quickly see that you have many of the elements they’re looking for.
What skills are important in accountancy?
Key assets will vary from role to role but some of the essentials (relevant to all areas and levels of seniority) include innovation, communication, commercial awareness and integrity. Here’s what you should be looking for:
If you have a job which involves using the telephone a lot, public speaking or any kind of customer service, you probably already possess excellent communication skills – and while this is important generally for any role, in finance, it’s essential that you can easily communicate complicated information to others concisely and in an understandable manner.
Don’t be anxious about a requirement for specific systems, if you’re competent in Microsoft Excel, then it shows that you can probably pick up a new system, such as Sage, without much difficulty. Additionally, knowing your way around Excel beyond simple spreadsheet creation is an in-demand skill itself, so bear that in mind.
Used to working in a busy environment
Chances are, if you’ve worked in a busy environment, then you are used to handling deadlines, work well under pressure and can take on whatever may be thrown at you. This is always desirable in busy finance environments, where they handle multiple client requests. See? You’ve got this!
Used to dealing with high volumes of data
Of course, finance is predominantly about data, so the need for excellent numeracy goes without saying. If you can demonstrate that you have previous experience of managing, analysing and/or presenting high volumes of data, it will definitely work in your favour.
All hiring managers look for a candidate who has a hunger for the job. Make sure you demonstrate your enthusiasm or give examples of when you have used your initiative to benefit a client or the business.
Strong academic background
An AAT, ACCA, CIMA or ACA qualification or university degree is often a desirable asset rather than a must-have, certainly at more junior levels, but if you can demonstrate a studious background it will show your willingness to learn, your commitment and your ability to research and analyse. Many companies actively promote study, so you could always gain a qualification while in the role.
Commercial awareness is, in essence, the knowledge of how and where a business fits in the market. This relates to how a company may be impacted by economic, social and political movements and how it can forge ahead and evolve. This may be tricky to demonstrate on your CV, but you’ll get the message across if, when thinking about your achievements, you tie your solutions back to those movements. ‘Because of impending auto-enrolment and tax legislation, it was crucial that I took X approach’, for example.
As an accountant, you will of course be dealing with sensitive information on a daily basis. Whether or not you have done so previously, integrity and trustworthiness are key characteristics that anyone can possess, regardless of their work experience. Just be sure to emphasise this on your CV.
Creative problem solving
Being innovative will help you stand out above other candidates, especially when it enables the creation of cost effective solutions. If you can demonstrate a blend of creativity with business acumen to help solve complex financial problems, you’ll have that hiring manager racing to call you for an interview.
A huge part of working in accountancy is proficiency in certain systems and processes, but this can all be learned providing you have the key basics – many of which are transferable skillsets. So don’t be dissuaded from a role you’d really like because you think you don’t have the right experience; look a little deeper and you may discover you have all the right assets!
Get in touch to discover how we can help you find your ideal finance role.