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What Skills do You Need to Develop for Success?

Two Black women sit at a table in an office space talking and laughing. They both have pens in their hands and open notebooks. A large window with a view of other buildings is behind them.
Photo by Christina@WOCinTechChat via Unsplash

Are you struggling to stand out in the finance world?

Does it feel like no matter what you do, you’re not landing any interviews?

Is it starting to feel like your applications are going directly into the spam folder?

Accounting has always had walls that are hard to break through, especially for women in finance. Now, with November being the slowest month of job growth since the spring and the accounting and bookkeeping industry losing 2,400 jobs in the last month, it can feel impossible to even get your foot in the door.

One way to distinguish yourself from the rest of the resumes in the pile is easier than you think: develop yourself in relation to others.

Being technically proficient isn’t all that firms are looking for. And let’s be honest: we all know that one accountant who knows the ins and outs of even the most complex concepts like the back of their hand—but they don’t seem to be moving forward.

But, by showing potential employers that you’re more than just the information you’ve learned, you can increase your chances of getting that call back.

What does this mean?

It’s time to roll up your sleeves and get to work on developing your soft skills.

Your soft skills are mainly your interpersonal skills. Your people skills, communication skills, personality traits—basically, non-technical skills that define how you relate to others.

We’ve rounded up a list of 3 soft skills that we think are essential to your career success and beyond: written and verbal communication, the ability to work on a team, and leadership skills.

Written and verbal communication

This one may seem obvious, but its importance often goes underestimated. How you communicate both on and off the page (or the screen) tells others a lot about you: your attitude, your level of professionalism, the amount of detail you look for, and more.

Two women are facing a large whiteboard with text and post-its on it. One women points at text on the board with a pen while the other looks in that direction. There is a large office table with pens, plants, and open laptops. There's another small desk on the left with a computer.
Learning how to communicate is essential—and most times, it's a lifelong lesson. Photo by You X Ventures via Unsplash.

When it comes to working with clients, being able to explain complicated issues using layman’s terms is essential in getting them not only to understand what you’re doing but to leave them satisfied with the service you’re providing them. (A satisfied customer is a returning customer, right?)

Showing patience and understanding in your emails and phone calls with your clients goes a long way to maintain your working relationships. But, your client isn’t the only person you should be focusing on when it comes to keeping up with best practices for communication. Keeping consistent and friendly communication with your colleagues shows that you are considerate of others’ timelines and expectations. Plus, teams that effectively communicate with one another are more productive and efficient.

How can you develop this skill?

This is easier said than done, but to hone this skill, you need to follow a 3-step procedure. First is observation. Pay attention to how you talk to others with texts, emails, and over the phone. In-person communication isn’t as much of an issue right now since we’re all working remotely, but it could serve you to take note of how you interact with the people you live with.

Next is to notice any patterns in your communication. Do you tend to be short with people when you’re stressed? Do you assume that the person you’re talking to knows the same information you do? These are the types of things you should take time to spot.