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The Not-So-Obvious Accounting Skills

As someone who works with a large number of companies and their accounting teams, I usually have insight into what employers really need in an applicant. In the world of finance, there is no replacement for experience, certificates, and advanced degrees. And, while these elements are what will get you the interview, they only tell part of the story. How you will succeed once in the position is usually based on skills beyond the books. A number of employers shared the need for accounting and finance employees who possess these surprisingly simple attributes:


Successful accountants are highly organized people by nature. More than just tracking the numbers, working accountants manage multiple responsibilities, portfolios, transactions, filing dates, project deadlines, and much more. Being organized, while mandatory to succeed in an accounting position, also builds trust and confidence from those around you – and really, in any job role.


Accountability is the responsibility of an accountant to perform a specific function. Auditors reviewing a company's financial statement are responsible and legally liable for any misstatements or instances of fraud. Accountability means that you take the time to be more than careful and knowledgeable about all professional practices. Accountability also applies to all of your workplace commitments. From communications to reporting, accountants need to own their work and ensure its timely and accurate execution.


Honesty and integrity are highly valued in any profession, and must be beyond reproach in the accounting world. Transparency for accountants means offering visibility or accessibility to information concerning business practices and financial performance. In the workplace it means you share complete and accurate information, even when it may reflect negatively on you. In reputable organizations accountants are valued because they always provide a clear and unvarnished view into financial and business practices.

A combination of what you know and how you will behave on the job are what employers really want to figure out before they extend an offer, and what they expect after you are on the job.