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May 17, 2022

Skills Accountants Need to Succeed on a Job

The accounting and finance industries have become competitive, and companies only seek highly skilled accountants. Although impressive transcripts and certifications still matter, employers are looking to hire accountants with specific skills, and you need these skills to make a breakthrough in the accountancy sector. 

The pandemic has taught us that the ability to learn and adapt is vital to our job growth. As you manage your career in accounting and take the steps to advance it, make sure you enhance your accounting skills and learn new ones.

What skills are the most valuable complements in this constantly evolving marketplace?

Accountants still need to possess top-notch analytical abilities; however, these days, an accountant’s “soft skills” are becoming more important than they ever used to be. One reason for this is that significant portions of the accountant’s job are extremely vulnerable to being automated. In-demand accounting skills vary by specific job title, of course, but the following overview of skills for accountants — some technical, some not — can help you advance your job search, as well as your accounting career.

Specialized experience

Specialization, such as a focus on regulatory compliance, can be a strong addition to your accounting skills. Many employers look for candidates with a background in anti-money laundering (AML), Know Your Customer, Financial Industry Regulatory Authority, Comprehensive Capital Analysis and Review,  particularly rules related to capital adequacy and consumer protection.

Companies also seek accountants with experience in revenue recognition. Accounting institutes offer courses on revenue recognition to help you better understand and implement the current and new revenue recognition principles — and make appropriate revenue recognition decisions.

General business knowledge

The scope of accounting positions has been expanding over time, especially so in recent years. In particular, accounting professionals must collaborate with other departments, so it’s important to know what other teams do to make your relationship more productive.

Accounting professionals who possess strong business acumen can help develop strategy, inform key decisions and serve as business partners across multiple departments.

The better you understand the overall business, and how you and your team fit into the big picture, the more productive your relationships outside your department will be.

Be a Techie

As an accountant, there is no running away from technology, and the tech sector changes constantly, with new software and software upgrades getting onto the market daily. With advancements in software, cloud computing, and automation, accountants are working with new technologies all the time. Be familiar with all the latest technological trends in accounting.

You’ll want to gain familiarity and even enhance your expertise with the specific software and tools accounting leaders are looking for:

  • Advanced Excel
  • Enterprise resource planning (ERP) (e.g., SAP, Oracle)
  • Big data analysis, advanced modeling techniques, and SQL
  • Business intelligence software (e.g., IBM Cognos)
  • Microsoft Visual Basic
  • Hyperion (for the analyst and financial reporting roles)
  • Microsoft Visual Basic skills
  • QuickBooks (for positions with small and midsize firms)

If you want to advance in your current position, consider asking your manager what kind of professional development the company would support to sharpen your accounting skills. Or, if you’re searching for a job, you could enroll in a course in one of the skills areas listed above. Being proactive about your professional development could impress a potential employer.

Communication skills

Accountants need to be able to tell the story behind the numbers, particularly for colleagues in other departments less familiar with accounting principles and jargon. Both verbal and written communication skills are critical for success in any accounting role.

Whether you’re writing or speaking, you will have to present information about the business in ways that can be understood and acted upon. The insights you share will be of no use to others if you can’t communicate them in a way that can be understood and acted upon.

Ask yourself these questions about your communication:

  • Do you use jargon that might not be understood?
  • Are you providing too many numbers or too much detail for your audience?
  • Are you listening actively to others?

Adaptability and flexibility

Adaptability and flexibility are also top among the skills accounting professionals possess. A key driver for this trend is technological change, as the rise of artificial intelligence (AI) is a critical business tool. The ability to pivot and roll with change is an absolute must.

Leadership abilities

Leadership is one of the most sought skills in many sectors. Can you be trusted to do tasks with minimum supervision? Are you able to work as part of a team or even lead a team of accountants?  Managers have an eye on the future and want professionals who possess strong leadership qualities and who can step into more senior roles when the time is right. They look for individuals who can avoid or resolve conflicts, adapt well to change, mentor others and embrace continuous learning.


It will help if you are enthusiastic and hard-working while carrying out your duties while being understanding of your colleagues, resilient, and full of integrity. These virtues are hard to develop but having them puts you in an excellent position to progress in your career.

Critical Thinking Skills

Accountants must possess the ability to evaluate data, figure out when there are problems with the data or the documents supporting it, and propose solutions that will successfully resolve any issues that arise. As an accountant, you must not only have a thorough knowledge of current tax law; you must also have the ability to apply critical thinking and analytical skills to minimize tax liabilities for your clients – and you must be sure to comply with all relevant laws as you do so. This role will challenge you to sharpen and perfect your critical thinking skills because you’ll be utilizing them every day.

Customer service orientation

Whether you work in public or private accounting, solid customer service skills are critical. If you work in a public accounting firm, you need to be able to retain current customers and bring in new clients. And if you work in corporate accounting, you must meet the needs of the organization’s other departments and managers.

“How can I help you?” shouldn’t be a phrase far from accounting professionals’ minds.

Final Words

As an accounting professional, you may already have the technical expertise to do the job. As you build your career, consider earning in-demand accounting certifications. Look for opportunities to get training that will make you more marketable as a job candidate and more valuable as a team member.

That said, on-the-job experience is often the best way to learn or improve a skill. If you want to advance in your career, you need to demonstrate other qualities — these skills for accountants that are essential to your success.

Looking to boost your accounting skills? Reach out to Get Trained Get Hired to book a free 30-Minute career counseling meeting. At Get Trained Get Hired we provide you with the necessary training to learn practical skills to become an accountant. Our training is based on practical real-life cases. After the training, we work on your resume and try to place you in accounting firms through our network. You will also get access to like-minded individuals who are looking for jobs through our WhatsApp group. Please feel free to contact us at [email protected]. Or call us at 647-275-7150.

Disclaimer: The information provided on this page is intended to provide general information. The information does not consider your situation and is not intended to be used without consultation from professionals. Salman Rundhawa and Gettrainedgethired.com will not be held liable for any problems that arise from the usage of the information provided on this page.


Salman Rundhawa

Salman has a strong desire to help others succeed and believe in passing on the knowledge. He likes to mentor others and wish to play part in other people success.
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