It’s a common misconception that working in accounting is all about the numbers – but there is also a range of other skills that will help you succeed: what we call “soft” skills. Unlike hard skills, which can generally be quantified, soft skills are those human traits or personal attitudes that are a little more difficult to measure. Some examples include analytical thinking, communication, leadership and time management.
Working in tax is a varied and flexible career that allows you to use a range of soft skills to solve problems and help others. According to research from the World Economic Forum, 35% of the skills necessary to succeed in a job today will be vastly different in five years’ time, making those soft skills more important than ever before – whether you’re already trained in tax preparation, are considering a career change, or simply want to learn something new.
So, what are the most important soft skills for tax professionals to master? We caught up with freelance marketplace and management platform, Expert360, to bring you the 5 soft skills currently in high demand for a career in taxation:
Companies often request accountants who can “crunch numbers and make them talk”. With companies ranging from enterprise to start-up level, the ability to communicate numbers with simplicity and purposeful insights is essential. Being able to listen with clarity is also very important.
This might not always be in the job description, but balancing a number of tasks at once and “keeping the plates spinning” will help enormously in building trust within a business. Be prepared to take on more responsibility and back yourself to get things done.
3. Willingness to ask questions
No matter how long you’re at a particular company, you have to find your voice. There is no such thing as a silly question. Often the simplest questions are the best, such as “Why are we doing this?”. Learn to engage with people within the organisation and seek feedback on your ideas. This will help build your skills as a team player.
4. Courage under fire
Be brave and have the courage to make recommendations to your superior or line manager. They might not take on the advice but do so will show your capacity to problem solve and offer positive or workable solutions to complex situations. People like ideas and like being surrounded by people who are prepared to think outside of the box.
It’s important to develop a sense of self-awareness about how you react in certain situations. Your professional career should be a journey of self-discovery and continuous learning. Try to think about how you sound, behave, present yourself, and manage your emotions. Pay careful attention to others – what can you learn from their feedback? Greater self-awareness will help to fine-tune what you’re good at and where you need to improve.
Key take away
So if you're trying to stand out from the crowd, you'll need to combine your functional skills and experience with your softer skills. Though every financial situation is different, by applying those creative & problem-solving techniques, you'll adapt easily, influence your stakeholders and shine above the rest.