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How do accountants present transferable skills in a CV?

Written by: Helen Jones
Published on: 10 Mar 2021

Transferable accounting skills are a set of skills that can be utilised in a variety of careers. Whether you are looking to progress your career into the accounting world, or looking to break into the industry as a newcomer. 

There are many instances where you may need to demonstrate particular skills that might not be apparent from your career history. This can be especially so early on in your career or if you are looking to transition from one career to another. If you see a job you like the look of, know that you can do this but have some concern that your experience may not naturally show the required skills, it may be time to consider how to present your transferable skills. 

How do you find what skills are required for a job? 

The skills or competencies that your CV will be assessed against will usually be contained within the person specification for the role you are applying for. Every job advertised should have an accompanying job description and person specification. It’s the second part of this, the person specification that we are interested in. This will detail the skills and expertise that an employer is looking for. Gather together two or three example person specifications. Highlight words and phrases that appear numerous times to give you an idea of common key words and phrases. Read how to write a CV that stands out

Rather than looking for specific work experience, some organisations recruit predominantly using a key skills or key competencies approach. This is especially so for organisations that are open to work experience from a broad and varied background. You will be given a specific list of skills in this case to focus on so no further research may be required. 

Hard skills and soft skills 

Skills are usually divided in to hard and soft. Soft skills are common across all industries such as ‘communication’ or ‘organisational’ skills. Hard skills tend to be more focused and can be specific industry skills like ‘financial reporting’ within accountancy or technology focused such as ‘Sage’ or ‘SAP’.  You can choose either hard, soft or a mix of both in your CV. Always be guided by the person specification as to which skills to choose. 

How to present your skills 

Choose around four skills as individual subheadings in your ‘key skills’ section. Write a sentence on how you utilise the skill and what it means to you. Importantly, give a couple of examples of how, where and when you have demonstrated the skill. Giving specific examples is important and focus on the outcomes. It is always the results that are more important than the action. Use facts and figures to highlight both the scale and scope and outcomes of your examples. 

You can use examples from any work, education or other experience to demonstrate transferable skills. They don’t necessarily have to come from similar work to that which you are applying for. 

Tailor your skills for each application 

Examples of transferable skills for accountants: 

1. Critical Thinking 

Often an accountant needs to gather, analyse and interpret financial data which requires you to evaluate information as well as understand its implications. 

The ability to look at data from more than one side of the coin is advantageous, not just for accountants but for a wide range of jobs and industries. It can be applied in many ways, with critical thinking is an in-demand skill. 

2. Work Ethic 

This one may seem obvious, but having a strong worth ethic is required in many roles and positions. 

Included in work ethic is time management, respect for company policy and showing initiative. 

3. Organisational Skills 

A skill that accountants, in particular, require when they juggle several projects at once making sure that their attention to detail is consistent across the board. Time management, in particular with the ability to adjust workflow priorities. 

4. Attention to Detail 

Having close attention to detail and a critical eye is imperative to the accountancy industry. 

5. Communication 

The main role of an accountant is to analyse large amounts of data and then provide that information into a format which is organised, uniform and easy to understand for non-accountants inside the business and out.  Language skills are included in this skill set. 

6. Digital Skills 

Knowing the basic functions and more advanced tools that various digital products provide is a transferable skill that is valuable on your CV. 

7. Adaptability 

Being able to adapt in any situation means that you are likely to learn and grow in your career, facing each new challenge as an opportunity rather than a blocker. Along with adaptability, being proactive is yet another transferable skill that many employers find particularly interesting. 

8. Transparency 

Being honest and transparent in your work is a transferable skill especially for the accountancy industry. 

9. Leadership 

Being able to mentor, teach, and be an approachable and friendly face for people that you’re responsible for are all skills that are welcomed into any workplace environment. 

Leadership skills include the strategic thinking and planning that is required in accountancy in general. Being able to offer advice with confidence and certainty as well as providing well thought out solutions to any problems that arise. 

10. Writing Skills 

Having the skills to communicate findings and information clearly and concisely is an exceptional skill to have. 

The ICAEW Academy of Professonal Development can help you hone your skills. 

New roles are posted every day from businesses across the UK from a wide range of industries on ICAEW Jobs. Get started with your applications today by uploading your CV and get job alerts when new roles appear.