Before discussing ways to improve your employability, let’s look at some very good reasons why you should want to make yourself more employable.
There remains a skills shortage in accounting and finance, the war for top talent rages on. And while that sounds like employers are lining up to hire anyone with even a little knowledge of accountancy, don’t be fooled, employers are in need of people with the right combination of skills, but they’re having trouble finding them.
‘Our latest research has found that the majority of CFOs are finding it challenging to identify and attract skilled accounting and finance professionals, a trend that has significantly increased over the last three years,’ says Matt Weston, director at Robert Half UK.
‘As finance departments are looking for not only the technical skills, but also the right soft skills and cultural fit, finding the right accounting and finance professionals can be challenging.’
This is a view shared by Lee Owen, senior business director at Hays Accountancy & Finance, but he highlights that this is also an opportunity for people to actively make the effort to fill the gap and provide employers with the skills and talent they need. ‘There has never been a more crucial time for job seekers to ensure they have the skills employers are looking for in order to stand out from the crowd.’
Skills shortage - some data
According to Hays, over three quarters of accountancy and finance employers (76%) said their top challenge when recruiting in 2018 will be a shortage of suitable applicants. A high percentage of accountancy and finance employers (59%) said they have experienced moderate skills shortages in the last year, with 9% saying they have experienced extreme skills shortages.
Key skills in demand in 2018
- Effective communication skills
- Financial systems knowledge (ERP/SAP)
- Financial modelling
- Stakeholder management
- Advanced Excel (V-look ups, PivotTable, SUMIFs)
- Commercial awareness and business acumen
- Business partnering
- Double-entry accounting proficiency
- Attention to detail
- Strong organisational skills.
Five ways to be more employable (and fill the skills gap)
Dip your toe in the world of finance by studying introductory ACCA courses online, many for free, on ACCA-X, our new award-winning MOOC. These courses even count towards ACCA Qualification papers, so when you decide to enroll on the journey to becoming an ACCA member, you’ll have a headstart. Not only this, but these courses look great on a CV, impressing employers with your passion and determination.
Ethics and Professional skills module
Ethics and professional standards are at the core of ACCA and it’s why we continue to innovate around how we provide our students and members with the best possible foundation. Indeed, in October 2017, we introduced the new Ethics and Professional Skills module. The new module is designed to increase your employability. It develops the full spectrum of advanced ethical and professional skills, exposing you to realistic business situations. It comprises six interactive units, covering 1) ethics and professionalism; 2) personal effectiveness; 3) innovation and scepticism; 4) commercial awareness, analysis, evaluation and problem solving; 5) leadership and team work, and 6) communication and interpersonal skills.
Networking - ACCA events
One of the benefits of being part of the world's largest and fastest-growing accountancy body is being able to network with lots of like-minded professionals - ACCA members are a global professional support network. Even before you become a member, there are networking events all over the world where you can meet like-minded peers and employers seeking the next generation of finance professionals. And don’t forget LinkedIn – another great and easy way to network with peers and employers.
Three things you should know about networking events
Volunteering and work experience
As Matt Weston highlighted above, it’s not just about technical accounting skills, employers want people who will fit into their company culture, work well in a team and represent their firms to clients. Soft skills such as communication, time-management and teamwork are highly sought after, so do all you can to gain them, either through paid work or volunteering – employers will love it.
Accounting and finance are fast-moving professions; you need to stay up-to-date with regulatory changes, new government and business systems, and the latest accounting software. A lot of this can be done simply by reading the business news, but go the extra mile, subscribe to specialist news outlets, go out of your way to research developments, join relevant industry and professional groups on LinkedIn, get involved with discussions. It’s easy to stay abreast of what’s going on, but you must put the effort in daily - appearing knowledgeable and in touch with developments will make you stand out to employers.
Studying ACCA and becoming an ACCA member is the best piece of employability advice we can give. Combined with the points above, you’ll be difficult for an employer to ignore – find out more about the ACCA Qualification