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The Top Skills Recruiters are Looking for in Accountants in 2021

Monday, April 19th, 2021

Accountants play a crucial role – They’re responsible for much more than just handling money, they create strategy and drive process improvements across entire organizations!

Lots of accountants – seasoned and budding – have questions about which skills they should hone in order to offer maximum value in the workplace. Below, we’ve detailed a handful of the skills recruiters are sure to be looking for in 2021. The ideal accountant of today and tomorrow should already be cultivating these talents.

Relationship skills
We know – relationship skills aren’t technically accounting skills; but you’re going to need them as we forge ahead into the world of automation. Allow us to explain.
Automation is gradually spreading its branches. More and more of the accounting process is now being automated. Transactional and basic tasks that don’t require people skills aren’t being carried out by people anymore. For accountants, this means a lot more time spent actually talking to clients.

Accountants of old could get away with being a little abrasive or quiet. They had some great excuses for avoiding human interaction; there was a lot of manual bookwork to be done. This just isn’t true anymore. If you want to see success as an accountant in 2021 and beyond, you’ll need to hone your people skills.

General business knowledge and skills
Accountants aren’t just accountants; they’re involved in lots of important business decisions. The actions accountants take often have a ripple effect throughout an entire business.

This is why it’s so important for today’s accountants to have a great knowledge of general business. Most accounting jobs will require you to collaborate with colleagues across department lines. This is a lot easier to achieve when you know your way around business fundamentals. General business knowledge will help you understand where you and your team fit into an organization’s overall picture.

Data analysis
If you’ve heard anything about data in today’s world, you already know it’s seen as a literal goldmine. The better you are at data analysis, the hotter you’ll be on the job market. Your clients will expect to have access to predictive data – if you can’t provide such, they may pass you over for someone else.

Accountants in 2021 need to understand how to turn big data into concise and useful insights. Lots of businesses are opting to hire professional data scientists alongside with their accountants to make this happen. If you can offer an all-in-one solution (an accountant with data skills), you’ll stand out amongst the crowd.

We think this one goes without saying. If you aren’t tech-savvy in 2021, you’re going to be hard-pressed to find a job as an accountant. Accounting is constantly changing – and so are the tools you use on the job. You need to be flexible and adaptable when it comes to new technologies.

Some examples of tech-based skills that are currently in demand include:

  • Microsoft Visual Basic capability
  • Advanced Excel ability
  • Aptitude with Hyperion
  • Knowledge of business intelligence software (i.e. IBM Cognos)

Communication skills
Communication skills technically qualify as relationship skills, but we think they deserve their own mention. Even accountants of the past, who could avoid a lot of interaction with clients, had to interact with each other in teams. Communication skills have long been a part of the accounting career, but they’re more important than ever.

Today, people expect to be treated positively and respectfully in the workplace. This goes for clients and colleagues. Long gone are the days of brushing off a coworker telling them you have better things to do.

Critical thinking
You could boast all of the skills mentioned above, but they wouldn’t do you much good without some critical thinking talent. Critical thinking is used to evaluate financial reports, apply accounting practices to new information, and identify solutions to financial problems.

Specialized skills and experience
Specialized skills help you stand out amongst a crowd. If you have unique experience, it could make a big difference on your resume. This is especially true if your talents concern consumer protection or capital adequacy. 2021 is changing the landscape of accounting – hiring managers and recruiters are looking for experience with:

  • KYC
  • AML
  • CCAR

Prioritization could probably earn its own spot as a job slot. It’s incredibly important to understand how to prioritize work, and this is doubly true for accountants. You deal with a lot of data day-in and day-out when you work an accounting job; and if you don’t know how to prioritize efficiently, it could have a serious impact on productivity. Accountants today need to have excellent prioritization skills to benefit both their own work and their clients.

Hirable Accountants in 2021
If you’re looking to boost your chances of catching recruiters’ eyes this year, consider spending some time to hone the skills listed up above. Accountants in 2021 need to demonstrate:

  • Relationship skills
  • Business knowledge
  • Data analysis skills
  • Tech-savviness
  • Communication skills
  • Critical thinking
  • Specialized skills
  • Prioritization

A Few Closing Tips for Accounting Resumes
Accounting resumes aren’t just about the skills you list on them. There are lots of steps you can take to create an accounting resume that shines through the crowd. Here are three of them:

  1. Quantify your work experience: If you can include metrics and data in your resume, it’ll stand out amongst a sea of words. Prove that you were effective in previous roles by demonstrating your exact impact. This shows that you understand metrics’ role in accounting and it helps paint a picture of exactly what you’ve achieved.
  2. Set a resume objective: Your resume will be stronger and more cohesive if you have a resume objective in mind. Whether you’re looking to demonstrate your people skills or you know you need to show off your results at your last job, keep that in mind as you build your resume. Avoid generic objectives that will allow you to get lost in the smoke of other applicants’ forms.
  3. Do your research: Your resume isn’t just about you; it should reflect aspects of the position you’re applying for, too. Do your research to learn about the companies you apply to. Fold what they’re looking for into your resume. The more targeted your approach, the better your likelihood of success.

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