Getting hired at top accounting firms can be difficult given the competitive nature of the field. Many accountants, both experienced and entry level, bring similar assets to the table. That is why it is important for applicants to demonstrate unique skills and experience. Four qualities that accounting firms look for during their hiring processes are business savvy, current knowledge, flexible thinking and foreign language skills.
A good accountant understands how his work helps the entire business succeed. Anyone with the appropriate training can crunch numbers, but how many can make those numbers work to the advantage of the company that hires them? Applicants for accounting jobs can give themselves a leg up on the competition by illustrating how their efforts have improved companies' bottom lines in the past. This can include anything from exploiting opportunities in the tax code to organizing training and promoting better record keeping for employees in other departments.
Accounting firms also look for candidates who keep up with latest developments in their industries. Laws and regulations change frequently, especially for global companies, and applicants who are on top of these changes stand a much better chance of getting hired. Emphasizing your knowledge of current trends in a cover letter and/or interview could make a big difference. If an interviewer's questions do not adequately address these topics, applicants can use the stage of the interview in which they are given the opportunity to ask questions to bring up recent developments that could be relevant to the position for which they are applying.
The right combination of efficiency, structure, and flexibility is also important. Prospective accountants should demonstrate that they cannot only complete repetitive tasks quickly and accurately, but also more efficiently. Flexible thinking within boundaries is a sought-after skill of accounting firms.
Finally, foreign language skills can set applicants for accounting firms apart, especially if the applicant speaks a language that is not widely spoken in the United States. Japanese and Portuguese are both good examples, though others, such as Mandarin and Russian, can also be very helpful. Fluency in a foreign language is extremely useful when working with companies that do business in countries where those languages are spoken, and it also helps demonstrate a global perspective. Even more helpful is an understanding of how business is done in countries in which the language is spoken. For those who do not speak a second language, experiences living and studying abroad can still show an understanding and appreciation for global differences that other candidates may not have.
Accounting firms look at many applicants with similar qualifications for most of the positions that they need to fill. Applicants that look like carbon copies of everyone else are unlikely to be successful. Demonstrating business acumen, knowledge of current developments, flexibility in thinking and foreign language skills are four powerful ways for talented individuals to stand out.
Photo courtesy of Alan Cleaver at Flickr.com
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