With 2021 now under way, we consider what employers are looking for from trainees this year.
While 2021 has arrived amid a backdrop of uncertainty, trainees can still put themselves in a healthy position by honing the skills at the top of employers’ wish lists. Employers in 2021 are expected to place more emphasis on a combination of technical and soft skills.
‘Getting the required technical skills needs to be number one for trainees,‘ says Lee Owen, director at Hays Accountancy & Finance.
‘These are a non-negotiable prerequisite for roles in accountancy. But having said this, employers really are looking for the whole package, which includes technical and soft skills.
‘Topping the list of soft skills is communication, which over half of accountancy employers need according to our recent research. Following this is the ability to adopt change and flexibility.’
The Hays salary and recruiting trends report also finds that the most in-demand soft skills among employers includes communication and interpersonal skills, problem-solving and flexibility and adaptability.
Having up-to-date technology expertise will again be crucial in 2021.
You can be certain that working with finance-specific software programmes will be a given in your role, as accounting firms and other organisations continue to expand their use of accounting automation.
Examples of technology-related accounting skills that are in demand by many employers include advanced Excel, enterprise resource planning (ERP) experience (SAP, Oracle packages), Hyperion (for analyst and financial reporting roles), Microsoft Visual Basic skills and knowledge of QuickBooks (SMEs).
Presenting information in an easy-to-understand format, especially for professionals who are not finance experts, continues to be a must-have skill.
Robert Half advises that the ability to relay information clearly and concisely by enhancing your verbal and writing skills will be essential in 2021.
The good news is that working from home in 2020 may already have improved this skill, as you have had to turn to email (writing skills) and video platforms (verbal skills) for each and every daily interaction, from business requests to simple morning greetings.
Owen adds: ‘The amount of change and uncertainty that we have experienced in the world of work this year means that employers are placing more emphasis on the blend of technical and soft skills.
‘Well-rounded accountants who possess technical and soft skills will be the ones who strive in 2021.’
A study by Deloitte Access economics professes that soft-skill intensive occupations will make up two-thirds of all jobs by 2030. The study cites a willingness to learn as the most requested soft skill in the world of work today.
Hiring managers want the ideal candidate to be proactive and take the initiative to continuously develop themselves, as well as communicate this to others.
This could involve listening to webinars and podcasts, looking at what the competition is doing, keeping an eye on customer feedback, recommending news articles to existing colleagues and creating email alerts for themselves surrounding this topic.