When applying for a job in the accounting, business or finance industries, having the necessary educational background and certifications indicate that an employee possesses the technical knowledge and training needed to be productive and efficient. Hard skills, however, are only one aspect of what employers look for in a prospective employee. They will also look for individuals with strong soft skills to ensure that their potential employee thrives and contributes positively to the organisation.
Soft skills are personal attributes that encompass interpersonal skills, problem-solving abilities, and personality traits such as empathy and timeliness. Most jobs require soft skills in addition to hard skills, whether it is presenting ideas to employees and clients, negotiating a contract, or networking with other professionals. Soft skills are the qualities that will take a competent and technically skilled accountant or business and finance professional to the next level in their careers. With a numerous range of soft skills to be developed, this article focuses on the essential ones that chartered accountants and business professionals need to thrive in the workplace.
Essential Soft Skills That Every Accountant and Business Professional Needs
1. Communication skills
Business professionals are often required to communicate frequently with stakeholders and present themselves at their best. Tasks such as presenting financial statements to board members and working with other colleagues require adequate written and verbal communication skills to make sure that the right information is conveyed to the right parties. This reflects competence while fostering greater trust between employees, increasing productivity and efficiency. As a result, chartered accountants need the ability to adequately tailor their message to their audience and explain technical jargon in a digestible manner to be effective in their jobs.
2. Teamwork and collaboration
As more companies move towards team-based projects and operations, chartered accountants and business professionals must be able to work well with others in order to carry out their tasks effectively. Whether it is determining P&L sheets or future endeavours based on current financial and business data, teamwork will be needed to achieve shared goals. Furthermore, collaboration is especially crucial in companies where remote-based work or multinational teams are common. In such situations, having a strong sense of teamwork ensures that employees of varying backgrounds can work together in order to achieve business goals.
While an accounting certification will equip individuals with important technical skills and knowledge, they will still face unexpected challenges throughout their careers. Creativity enables employees to come up with innovative solutions to tackle these problems effectively. Given that the world is becoming increasingly complex and unpredictable, accountants and business professionals alike will benefit from seeing things from a unique perspective in order to create opportunities that bridge business needs.
For chartered accountants and business professionals who want to achieve further success in their careers, adaptability is a key soft skill to develop. Whether it is a change in work environments or taking on more responsibilities, an employee who is flexible can respond to such changes effectively. This includes mastering new software to help them perform their tasks more efficiently, as well as staying abreast of industry trends to provide sound financial advice to board members.
5. Critical thinking
Critical thinking involves questioning assumptions, understanding the logical connection between ideas, and analysing facts to form a proper judgement; enabling chartered accountants and business professionals to see the bigger picture. For example, devising long-term financial plans requires critical thinking to discern patterns and extrapolate data to forecast future trends and expenditures. Critical thinking is crucial in times of crises as it enables accountants and business professionals to view the problem systematically and come up with the best possible solution to resolve them.
Unlike hard skills which can be acquired through education and experience, soft skills are typically harder to develop. In the eyes of an employer, an employee that can think critically and work well with others will stand out from the rest. As long as individuals make an effort to nurture their soft skills, they can consistently deliver stellar results to their organisation.
ICAEW South-East Asia offers accounting certifications that will equip you with essential knowledge and skills in accounting, business and finance, and is recognised by organisations all over the world. Contact us today to learn more.