Hand writing and counting on calculator in office on wood desk about financial data analyzing.

August 10, 2020, by Leah Sharpe

Qualities that accounting firms look for in applicants

By Elizabeth Hughes, Senior Content Writer at The Accountancy Partnership 

Planning for life after graduation can be a daunting task. You’ve never done it before, and so it’s difficult to know what to expect. If you’re thinking about work, there are some skills which are universally desirable for employers. Good time keeping, an enthusiastic attitude, and taking pride in a high standard of work are always popular. For those who have an eye on accountancy, there are more specific skills that accounting firms are looking for in applicants.

The ability to analyse information 

Anyone approaching or crossing the finish line of a degree can give this box a hefty tick. Data analysis is a core part of every undergraduate and postgraduate qualification.

It’s also a key skill for any accountant because we work with large amounts of data. Our job involves a lot of sifting to find what matters, but without losing sight of everything as a whole. Beyond interpreting the raw data we’re given, is critical analysis. This means detecting errors, and understanding where and why there are anomalies. Those nights in the library have gifted you with solid abilities to analyse and interpret information, and you might not even realise it.

Effective communication in a variety of ways 

A lot of people write ‘good communication skills’ on their CV (and honestly, we see it so often we almost don’t notice it anymore). What’s important to remember about communication is that it goes both ways.  

As an accountant you must be able to make sense of what the client is getting at, when they’re sometimes not sure themselves. This goes hand-in-hand with the ability to explain complex ideas and topics in simple terms.  

Fortunately, these are skills which graduates excel at. Presentations, reports, analytical essays, group discussions, seminars… you’ve done them all. Interpreting and relaying information in a variety of ways for different audiences becomes second nature. And yes, this skill also covers ‘good at working in a team or solo’. 

Organising your time and work

Did someone say multiple assignments due on the same day or very near to each other?  In the accountancy sector we have a broad variety of clients, but HMRC and other statutory deadlines are set in stone. It can sometimes result in unavoidable bottlenecks of work. 

Prioritising jobs is essential, both for client satisfaction and for your own sanity. But while organising work isn’t always easy, it’s a skill which every graduate has learned.

Taking a flexible approach to inflexible requirements

Whilst a project might have rigid requirements and processes, having a flexible approach is useful. Accountancy comes with all sorts of legal obligations. There’s no getting round them without trouble.  

But, adapting to the way work sometimes unfolds is an attractive skill, and one which many graduates have picked up. Whether it’s waiting for the client to send data (or someone to do their part of the group presentation), a flexible attitude helps everyone get on, and the job get done. 

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