This guest blog has been written by Rachael Johnston from the Accountancy Partnership.
When looking for graduate accounting roles, it’s easy to presume most firms are looking for someone with excellent accounting skills who can crunch serious numbers. While that’s a great starting point, accounting firms tend to look beyond that and often hire juniors, who they can train as they work.
This is great news for students because it means you won’t be faced with firms asking for several years of experience fresh out of university.
Let’s look at the four key things an accountancy firm looks for when they hire.
It’s safe to say that being an accountant involves a lot of hard work, so having a good work ethic is one of the key things a hiring manager will be looking for. Luckily, you’ll already show this with a degree (we know how hard you students work!). So, discuss what you studied and give examples of any extracurricular things you were involved in, or talk about part-time jobs you had.
‘Soft skills’ are personal attributes that help you work effectively with your colleagues and clients. The great thing about these skills is that you learn them naturally during university – so always ensure you speak about them in your interviews!
Soft skills are made up of 4 key factors:
Self-management – Accounting requires keeping on top of deadlines and meetings, as well as various other tasks that need prioritising. Think of the deadlines you’ve had at Uni, and how you prioritised them and submitted all your coursework in a timely manner. Having the ability to manage your tasks (and yourself) is a highly rated skill.
Communication – The role of an accountant is based on talking to clients and explaining complex things regarding their account, as well as making them feel at ease (because running a business and submitting tax returns can be stressful!) Having this skill means half –the –battle is already won when becoming an accountant.
Problem-solving – It won’t always be plain sailing; problems will occur – but if you can come up with effective solutions, your clients will trust you’re the best person to look after their accounts.
Leadership and teamwork – This doesn’t mean you’re expected to become a team leader! It’s more about your willingness to help colleagues – such as giving someone advice on what to do with a client or showing initiative instead of waiting to be asked what to do next.
No matter what company you interview with, you’ll need to do some basic research. While recruiters will never expect in-depth knowledge, asking questions like, ‘I see you’re an online accounting firm, how does that differ from a high street accountancy?’ will show you’re engaged.
Doing your research and asking the right questions could be the thing that grabs you the role!
The recruiter will try to picture you in the role and assess whether they think you’re the right fit. But they’re not the only ones who decide this, a culture fit is a two-way street! It’s super important to ensure you join somewhere you’ll feel comfortable and happy.
Remember: Always do your research, and most importantly be yourself. Good luck!
Article written by Rachael Johnston – Content Marketing Executive of The Accountancy Partnership – Providing online accountancy services nationwide for a low, fixed monthly fee.