Your intellectual skills will not be judged by your academic grades alone.
Accountants need to be able to grasp new concepts quickly – whether it is assimilating new information or data, managing a project, or meeting a new client. If something is new to you, you need to be able to ask the right questions and follow the right leads during research. Your intellectual skills will not be judged by your academic grades alone: recruiters like to see that you can apply your knowledge to practical situations. Show you really know what the job entails. Recruiters don’t expect in-depth knowledge, but a good grasp of the basics will help you and impress them.
Recruiters are on the hunt for freethinkers with fresh ideas who are going to make an impact. Do you have the ability to create or identify new opportunities to develop the business? Many firms use processes that have lasted for years but are frequently tweaked to create improvements. Have you done something similar? For example, if your student society was planning on promoting itself via a stall at a student fair and you suggested giving out some freebies to attract people to the stand, then went about sourcing suitable items, you would have provided a basic innovation to improve society membership and increase awareness among students.
Accountants need to convey complex information in a professional and jargon-free manner, so learning to tailor your communication style is vital. You will also need to be able to work with colleagues, often in a team, at all levels of the business – good teamwork won’t happen without good communication between members. You need to be able to express yourself concisely, but you also need to be a good listener and good at asking questions. Recruiters will be assessing your communication skills through your application form answers, how you go about answering interview questions, and group work and presentations at assessment centres.
4. Commercial awareness
Knowledge of the business you want to work in, the sectors you would be working with, your employer and your employer’s competitors – aka commercial awareness – is essential if you want to work in accountancy and financial management. You can demonstrate commercial awareness at interview even through talking about a casual job. If you’ve worked stacking shelves in a supermarket be able to identify the issues facing the supermarket industry. Who owns the company? How is it structured? If you’ve worked in a pub you could be asked about the issues facing the drinks industry. Give the recruiter answers that demonstrate an insider’s – not a customer’s – perspective.
Recruiters are impressed by candidates who take the initiative and are enthusiastic and interested. Candidates who get in touch with recruiters and make themselves known are more likely to stand out. It’s a good idea to attend events and fairs and meet people from the firm you’re interested in. Enthusiasm is also shown by doing research – you wouldn’t bother researching something and keeping up to date with it if you weren’t generally interested in and enthused by it. Mention an aspect of the firm’s work that interests you and find a way to link it to your own skills and experience.
Other skills recruiters are looking for
The employer hubs are an invaluable tool for discovering an individual employer’s unique requirements, some of which you might not have considered. For example, take a look at what the recruiters at these firms are seeking:
- Colourful personalities (BDO)
- How you tackle a challenge (Deloitte)
- Credibility (Grant Thornton)
- Commitment to achieve success at examinations (Dixon Wilson)
- Leadership (EY)
- Integrity (PwC)
- Resilience (KPMG)