The Hard Truth: Employers Value Soft Skills

Julie Shenkman
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In today’s collaborative business environment, organizations value accounting professionals who bring strong soft skills to the table along with their financial expertise. The ability to communicate effectively, promote teamwork, present ideas, manage people and projects, and solve problems is critical to the success of a business.

Since many organizations now want accountants to assume more strategic roles within the company by interacting with colleagues in many different departments, strong interpersonal skills are no longer just an advantage – they are now essential to career success.

If you are beginning your career and are looking for ways to climb the corporate ladder, your communications skills – both written and verbal – are as important as your accounting skills.

  • Develop teamwork skills. Look for opportunities to participate on project teams and don’t hesitate to offer your expertise when you encounter situations where you feel you can contribute. Take an active role in cross-functional groups and collaborate with others to identify unique and innovative solutions. Accountants can often add value to group interactions by offering insight on how decisions will affect the bottom line.
  • Listen. One of the most underrated soft skills is effective listening. Good listeners offer their full attention to a speaker, tuning out everything else going on around them. Think of instances when you began planning your next comment before the other person had finished talking. In your enthusiasm to state your point of view, it is possible that you could have missed out on an important perspective or concern.
  • Multi-tasking. The ability to manage and implement the multiple phases of a project is an important skill to master. You can improve your productivity and achieve more by maintaining a daily “to-do” list. Also, businesses want employees who are eager to learn and accept new responsibilities. For example, if you engage primarily in traditional accounting ledger activities, ask your manager if you can work on information technology initiatives or long-term strategic planning, which can enable you to develop and utilize different skill sets.

Soft skills are anything but soft. As accountants move from the backroom to the boardroom, their visibility within the organization is magnified. By developing these skills to match your business knowledge, you’ll improve your odds of success in the workplace.

This article was provided by Accountemps, a division of Robert Half International, Inc. As the industry leader and expert in temporary financial staffing, the company provides an array of resources to job seekers, including salary data, job search tips, advice on which skills are in demand, and online courses providing continuing professional education credits. Accountemps has more than 330 offices worldwide and offers online job search services at www.accountemps.com.

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