Accounting skills are in high demand. According to statistics from Burning Glass, over 1.3 million job postings requested accountings skills in the last twelve months. However, not all accounting skills are created equally. As part of our Intuit Academy program, we sat down with Sean Duncan, President of SMD Consulting & Accounting, LLC, to discuss the skills tomorrow’s accountants need to be successful. Check out Sean’s top five skills accounting associates need on their resumes.
Be More than a Data Entry Monkey
Think about your educational training. Did you learn to enter data into a field and do a calculation? Did you learn to understand why data is where it is and how to interpret that information for effective decision making? If it’s the former, you will be losing your job in a few years because artificial intelligence has almost reached the point where employers won’t need you. It’s a tough truth. Now, if you understand HOW accounting works, why it’s important, can support a manager/owner with financial analysis, and can help create success for an organization, then your expertise has true value. If you’re just starting your career, you may wonder how to glean that type of insight already. That leads us to the second critical skill.
Be a Voracious Learner
If you want to be successful, you must have a continuous desire to learn. Learn everything you can, and then learn more. The field of accounting is vast. Do you know the magic ratios that make a restaurant successful? Do you know what an RVU is and how to maximize it? Do you know the correct multiples to target when investing in multi-family properties? Do you know the correct debt to equity ratios for a software startup? Do you know which trust to set up to help a millionaire with their estate plan? Do you know what state has the most favorable tax environment for a manufacturing facility? In the field of accounting, there is a lot to master.
Whether you research while you are in college, in preparation for a job interview, or on the job; it doesn’t matter. Invest in yourself and continue to invest, so you can always be a valuable member of the team. Start looking for little pockets of knowledge beyond the journal entry that will help you grow personally and professionally. Be ready to bring that knowledge forward because of your understanding. Not an expert yet? Then be excited about learning it, so you can be an expert in the future.
Be an Excellent Communicator
I’m not telling you must publish an article or stand on stage in front of 500 people. What I want you to do is learn the art of getting your message across. Accountants are notorious for their jargon, and that drives everyone that’s not an accountant nuts (and some of us accountants too). When you learn all that amazing stuff from my second critical skill, I want you to be able to explain it in a way that a non-accountant can understand what you are talking about. If you use IRS form numbers, acronyms, or technical terms all the time, you will likely lose your audience (and they may be the ones paying you). When you truly understand a subject, you can explain it in multiple ways to multiple audiences.
Not only should you invest in obtaining the knowledge, but you should also practice how to communicate it. It could be as simple as explaining it to your non-accountant roommate or spouse for practice, or you could sign up for courses or seminars on professional writing or public speaking, or earn a communication certification. Whatever method you use, you need to be aware that this is a muscle that needs exercise if it’s going to get strong. Without the ability to communicate to management, clients, and stakeholders; you are limiting your upward mobility.
The value of being organized cannot be overstated. In the world of accounting, you will be drowning in data, reports, meetings, and information. If you cannot keep yourself and your work organized, you will forget things. Forgetting things leads to a deadline being missed, an appointment forgotten, or a calculation error. All of these “oops” moments will likely result in time lost, money wasted, and stress increased. No one likes those outcomes. Want to watch your boss lose their cool? Forget to help a client because your neglected to add an appointment to your calendar. If you know you struggle with disorganization, then you must find tools, systems, and support for getting over that struggle. Successful professionals find a way to organize their calendar, keep their records accessible, and accomplish their goals through organized effort.
Know your Software
I’m using the term “software” generically because every career track requires different specific software knowledge. If you are helping small business owners, I cannot overstate the value of a QuickBooks certification. If you are running a multi-family real estate investment organization, you may need to know the property management software. And for everyone, you really need to know your way around Microsoft Excel.
If you have a feeling where your career path is taking you, take the time to learn the tools that are used in that industry or niche. Any advance knowledge you have about it will not only help you in that interview, but it’ll also help you succeed in the job itself.
Bonus tip from me: Understand how to implement and use software that will add value to your organization even if no one else is using it. I was essential to a multi-billion-dollar corporation for years, because I was the only person that knew how to use Microsoft Access. Anyone who needed a report had to come to me. I was even asked to teach courses to managers and VPs as a result. Not bad corporate visibility for a guy in his early 20s.
Today, it can be as easy as learning apps and tech like Zapier, Expensify, or even just Slack. Become the resident expert in a piece of software that helps the company be more efficient or profitable, and you’ll stand out in ways you can’t imagine.
Looking to boost your accounting skills and credentials? Learn more about QuickBooks certification here.