The ten most sought-after trainee skills revealed

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One of the best ways to get the job you really want is to keep track of the skills that employers are looking for – and to ensure that your skills set marry up.

That may mean constantly investing time and money to increase your portfolio of skills, but the rewards will make it worthwhile. Businesses look for top talent and will pay larger salaries to recruit and retain trainees with the right abilities.

To gain an edge over the competition, keeping improving your essential job skills and never stop learning.

Leading recruiters believe that the following skills are currently among the most in-demand from leading employers:

  1. Strategic decision making – Finance teams are being asked more and more to contribute to strategic decision-making. Individuals who have commercial skills, and use their insight and understanding to improve business decision-making, are considered highly valuable.
  2. Industry specific knowledge – Although finance and accountancy roles are evolving, individuals still need to be able to complete the technical requirements of the role. Having a strong understanding of industry specific knowledge and regulations is always an essential skill
  3. Technically savvy – Finance and accounting is becoming more reliant on software programmes such as Excel, SAP or Oracle. Individuals need to be technically savvy in the latest versions of relevant software programmes.
  4. Confident communicators – The finance team no longer exists in silo and staff are expected to be actively involved with teams and departments across the organisation. Individuals who are confident communicators and can clearly get their points across to colleagues, clients and partners at all levels are in high demand.
  5. Show initiative – As finance and accountancy professionals are often relied on to serve as a source of aid for their business colleagues entry-level accountancy and finance professionals need to be ambitious self-starters and show initiative in order to progress in their career.
  6. Open to change – Individuals who are open to change and embrace new ways of working are in high demand – this applies to technology changes, adapting to industry regulation and even general working practices
  7. Ability to hit deadlines – Finance and accountancy staff are busy individuals who have a range of tasks to complete on a daily, weekly and monthly basis. As finance teams get more involved in strategic decision-making, and take on new roles within the business, the need to prioritise workload and hit deadlines is crucial
  8. Committed and loyal – Recruiting and training up new members of staff is a costly process, meaning it is important for employers to retain their staff. Employers look for professionals who are likely to be committed and loyal to the organisation
  9. Keen to improve – Individuals who show initiative and are able to come up with creative ways to solve problems are in demand. Organisations are always eager to recruit innovative staff members who are eager to continually improve business performance
  10. Strong customer service skills – If you work in public practice, it is essential for you to be able to retain current customers and bring in new clients. If you work in corporate accounting, you must meet the needs of the organisation’s other departments and managers. Either way, solid customer service skills are critical

Phil Sheridan, managing director at Robert Half UK, says: ‘Essential job skills in the accountancy profession encompass more than the ability to crunch numbers. The field is constantly evolving and the top 10 skills in-demand are constantly changing as a result.’

Karen Young, director at Hays Accountancy & Finance, adds: ‘Our findings put being commercially aware at the top of the skills needed for the future generation of finance professionals.

‘Business and economic climate dictate that organisations are becoming more proactive and business focused than ever before, so organisations are looking for individuals with top-class communication and influencing skills in addition to the necessary technical ability you will gain from studying’ she said.

As organisations continue to grow, they are looking for finance professionals who can interpret business and financial data, manage cash flow and communicate with colleagues and management effectively too.

If you’ve completed the AAT Professional Diploma in Accounting you’ve already started your journey to ACCA. You will receive free exemptions, meaning you will get a head start and qualify sooner.

Visit the ACCA website to find out more

ACCA (the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants) is the global body for professional accountants.

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