By Jim Wong, CPA | February 4, 2015

Good manners will open doors that education cannot. –Clarence Thomas

How do your soft skills stack up in today’s market?

With so many specialized positions out there for accounting, finance and IT professionals, everyone knows that specific technical and educational requirements are necessary to be considered for numerous types of roles. Years of experience and schooling are mandatory to perform the job of, say, a Systems Engineer, Sr. Siebel Developer or Sr. Financial Analyst, right? Yes, but what might not be so obvious is a collection of other skill sets that are just as crucial but not necessarily taught in school. And those are — soft skills.

A recent Forbes article discusses the concept of “soft skills” or “people skills” in the corporate world and explains that qualities like empathy, effective communication and time management are real, sought-after abilities that employers look for in their employees. In fact, these skills are often what drive personal and professional success, especially for accounting, finance and IT professionals.

So, why is it that soft skills are so important in today’s corporate culture? If you’re up for a promotion to Controller, Director of Finance or CIO, often times having strong, soft skills can and will set you apart from your peers, especially with the job market the healthiest it’s been in years and the competition at its highest.

Below are a few key soft skills that are important for accounting, finance and IT professionals to keep in mind:


Having a positive attitude not only opens your mind up to other business strategies or tactics, it helps prevent you from getting pigeon-holed within your function. Don’t cloud people’s judgment of your value by moping around or having a “woe is me” attitude. Show your worth by smiling, offering positive feedback and being supportive towards all functions, company-wide.

Relationship Building

Building effective relationships with your colleagues, direct reports and managers is key to achieving your own personal success. It goes hand-in-hand with employee engagement which has been proven to increase retention and make employees more productive; as a result, increasing the bottom line. It also helps with networking which can be beneficial throughout your career. It can also provide you with some fun! Overall, showing that you, too, can be a team player is a necessary and smart step.


Being able to negotiate in any capacity, whether it be negotiating a salary or negotiating conflict, is something that will show employers that you have valuable critical skills, including conflict-resolution and confidence. That goes a long way if you’re an accounting, finance or IT professional, when often times you’re faced with issues surrounding financial reporting or operating systems and you have to make decisions or negotiate transactions quickly.


Even if your title isn’t a leadership or management role doesn’t mean you can’t exhibit the qualities of a good leader. Often times, taking the lead on a project or handling a situation without being instructed to shows drive and initiative — all soft skills that will help you with your personal and professional growth. Whether you’re looking to move into an accounting, finance or IT leadership role, or you’re looking to gain respect from your peers, building your leadership skills is important.


In any role, showing that you’re motivated is very appealing to a manager or leader. It also shows that you’re coachable and open to learning new skills, systems or practices. Whatever drives you to getting your job done, i.e. money, praise, recognition, etc. is incidental as long as the motivation is prevalent in your job performance and productivity.

What are some other soft skills that are essential in the work place? Comment below and let us know!

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