Accounting is an extremely competitive industry, especially for those fresh out of college. Accounting firms are always trying to recruit the best up and coming accountants to grow their staff. Accounting graduates may have certain firms that they are interested in, or may just be waiting for the best offer to come their way. Even though firms are always looking for emerging accountants, they won’t choose just any graduate. There are specific skills and attributes that many firms look for.
Plans to Pass the CPA Exam
Many firms want students who have already completed their 150 hours by the date of hire. Other firms expect new associates to complete the CPA Exam within the first one or two years of employment. It’s important that recent graduates know what their hour status is and if/when they will be sitting for the exam. Keep in mind that some firms offer bonuses to associates who have already passed the exam or pass it within a certain amount of time after their hire.
Comfort with Technology
We’re in the age of ever-evolving technology. Accounting graduates need to have at least a basic understanding of Excel and the ability and willingness to quickly learn new software programs. Many firms are now looking for candidates with experience in data analytics. This area of technology will become more popular in the coming years, and it’s in every student’s best interest to take classes in and outside of school in this area to be a more competitive applicant.
Strong Communication Skills
The ability to speak and write clearly and effectively is vital for most careers, but especially accounting. Interpersonal and customer service skills help new employees create relationships with their clients and their team.
A Diverse Resume
The resume is the first thing a recruiter sees about an applicant. Firms are looking for accounting graduates that have some work experience, involvement on campus, volunteer work and more. The impressive GPA is not going to cut it, because it doesn’t make an applicant stand out. Diverse experience and involvement help show that an applicant has experience interacting with different people in different situations, which shows important soft skills that translate to the accounting field.
A Team Player
Teamwork makes the dream work. It’s rare that an accountant wouldn’t have to collaborate with others in their firm. If a recent graduate has never worked in a team situation, whether in school, sports, or clubs, they are missing a necessary skill for the job.
Ready for Office Culture
Whether this comes from previous office experience, or the way a candidate carries themselves in an interview, the maturity and manners required in office culture is a big plus for a recent graduate that wants to stand out amongst their peers.
Non-technical skills such as organization, time management and integrity are the extra skills that round out a candidate. Again, the impressive GPA won’t cut it if an applicant is late to the interview or doesn’t answer an email because their inbox is a mess. Remember to highlight these skills in your resume or interview as well.
Appropriate Social Media Presence
Last but certainly not least, firms and their recruiters will look at a recent graduate’s social media accounts to make sure the applicant doesn’t have any inappropriate or alarming posts. Once someone is hired, they represent the firm and add to the reputation of the firm. Any social media posts that are in poor taste will certainly knock a candidate off the list of consideration.
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