As you start your career as an accountant, you need more than just the right credentials and knowledge on how to crunch numbers. You also need soft skills such as a firm handshake, the ability to make eye contact, and strong communication skills. These soft skills are essential when looking for jobs and when trying to land clients.
Soft skills are often really intangible concepts such as confidence, adaptability, and emotional intelligence. They can also include conflict resolution, management skills, and positive work ethic.
Unfortunately, it can be hard to identify which soft skills you have and which ones you need. Consider talking with friends, old professors, co-workers, and anyone else who has worked closely with you. Ask them point blank if they think there are any soft skills on which you need improvement. Then, find ways to improve. In terms of communication skills, practice with friends.
If you’re interviewing for jobs or setting up meetings with clients, ask your friends or colleagues to help you prepare. Mock interviews and meetings are a perfect place to practice. You may also want to read books or sign up for classes and seminars. Look for leadership and management courses in your area, and if you live in a small community without a lot of options, consider taking courses online or travelling to conventions.
Professional success involves a lot more than the information you learn in your accounting classes. Throughout your career, you also need to work on your soft skills. As these skills improve, you’ll likely find it easier to interview with prospective employers, talk with clients, and even manage and interview your own employees.