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Progression advice for Accountants in 2021


Posted in Candidates

Posted by Jo Howell
Published on 17 February, 2021

The pandemic put a large spanner in the works for many employees looking to move up in their careers. From having to shift their whole working experience to online, to entering a volatile and unpredictable jobs market – it’s an understatement to say that it’s not been an easy time. 

However, as we begin to see glimpses of light at the end of the tunnel with the vaccine roll out, the market is finally becoming more accessible for potential mid-level and senior candidates. Employer confidence is once again on the rise and recruitment opportunities are becoming much more frequent compared to what we’ve witnessed over the past 12 months. 

So, what should Accountants do to clinch that new role in 2021?

Explore sectors that are strong, or can be agile, in this market

While it is key that we keep hold of the growing sense of optimism, it is important to remember that we’re not out of the woods with the pandemic yet. Certain sectors and industries are still going to be in danger for the foreseeable future therefore, it is crucial that you look to move to more stable markets, or at least ones that can be agile in this unsteady time.

For example, businesses that are predominantly online or have a strong e-commerce branch are more likely to come out unscathed from the pandemic due to the momentous shift to a much more virtual world. 

You need to be a perfect match

Online onboarding and the need for an agile and experienced workforce has left employers with very little time for extensive training or handholding when it comes to bringing in new hires to a business.

Therefore, to stand out from the crowd, ensure you are applying for jobs where your skillset slot in perfectly. Avoid a scattergun approach when sending out your CV; instead opt for a much more targeted process, aiming to contact only those firms where your experience, skills and knowledge match a potential employer’s exact needs. 

You’ll need hard skills...

Accountancy requires a very elaborate set of skills, all of which need to be impeccable, if you are to succeed in moving up the ladder. From a keen eye for analytical detail to scrupulous organisation, spreadsheet proficiency and strong numerical ability – it is crucial you keep these hard skills up to scratch to not only provide a fantastic service, but so you can also provide invaluable help, guidance and training to the junior members of your team.

...soft skills...

Accountancy isn’t just a numbers game anymore, it’s as much to do with people as anything else, and the need for great interpersonal skills is crucial. Ensure you build upon those ‘softer skills’ such as empathy, communication and fantastic customer service as you progress to stand you in great stead for managerial and leadership roles. 

...and new skills

The pandemic has left no stone unturned, and businesses of all shapes and sizes have had to adapt and change their usual working processes to stay afloat. In accountancy, technology has played a huge part in the survival of many firms. 

Cloud-based systems, data security tools, Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning are all buzzwords that are bouncing around the industry, and things that will very much become the norm for the sector in the not-so-distant future. 

To excel in accountancy, a clear grasp on the benefits, potential shortfalls and workings of these advanced systems will be crucial and will set you miles apart from the competition. 

Keep on top of newsworthy changes 

From IR35 reforms to Brexit, the movement and changes happening on a national and global scale will undoubtedly have an impact on the accountancy sphere. A good understanding of upcoming transitions and regulations will be crucial to ensure you are an instrumental player in keeping yourself and the business you work for on a level playing field with competitors.

Keep learning 

One thing that will never change within the industry is that employers will continuously look for candidates who are prepared and motivated to always be bettering themselves. By keeping up with qualifications and showcasing yourself as an active studier will stand you in good stead as a desirable candidate. 

The world of accountancy is changing, and the need for well-informed and competent new employees will be on employers’ agendas for the long-term. It is key to remember that, especially now, your ability to fit into a company seamlessly, whilst also having the potential to grow and build with the business, will be what stands you out from the crowd and secures you that first rung on the career ladder.

Recruitment Manager - Accountancy and Financial Services

Jo joined Cathedral Appointments in 2012 after over 20 years in recruitment spanning the whole of the UK - Aberdeen, Home Counties, Greater Manchester and the South West! She recruits for both Financial Services and Accountancy professionals and is known in the office for finding the needle in the haystack candidate where no one else can!

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Progression advice for Accountants in 2021


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